It’s dark and rainy here and will be for the foreseeable future. Jesus and Guillermo are in the basement removing asbestos (our furnace was condemned) and the cost of removing all of those sixty year old ducts and hopefully getting warm again has dulled the excitement of Santa Claus’ arrival. And so instead of filling the airwaves with uplifting stories and holiday cheer I’ve been on a grim mission to track down and label dead ancestors.
On the back of this picture is written: In the park where we had breakfast one Sunday morning.
I’m guessing the woman wearing a head scarf and the man pouring the coffee are my great aunt Millie and her husband Ben. I met them at least a couple of times when I was quite young and vividly recall thinking Ben was too handsome to be sentenced to life in a wheelchair. Shallow, I know but I was in the Disney princess stage. As to how Ben came to be in a wheelchair, time has dulled my mother’s memory. Was it WWI or polio? Who knows.
This picture, and several others of a similar ilk, have nothing written on the back. Nothing. The bespectacled young woman in the front row, with the “you gotta be kidding me” look on her face, is my grandmother. She was probably only sixteen but that look never changed. I believe one of the two elderly women is my great-grandmother but mother can’t tell which one.
Mother: “I was dead before my grandmother was born.”
Me: “No mother. I think you meant to say she was dead before you were born. You’re still alive.”
“One of them could be Mrs. Pease,” she suggests, a neighbor lady who looked after her grandfather after his wife’s death.
“Which lady is Mrs. Pease? You must remember her.”
“I only remember their cow. We used to bring it down to the barn so that Mr. Pease could milk him.”
“Her, could milk her.”
“I remember the cow.”
I don’t know if you’ve ever played “identify the ancestor” with someone who can’t remember what day it is … but five minutes is my limit. Of course, to a five year old all old ladies look alike but a cow – who could possibly forget their first crush, even if it was on a cow?
Unlike his daughter, my great grandfather seemed only too happy to have his picture taken. In this gathering he’s the fella sitting on the right with a little girl on his lap. The couple behind him are my grandparents and thus the little girl must be my mother. So who is the elderly lady sitting next to great gramps? She can’t be his wife because we’ve already established that she died before my mother was born. She must be that friendly neighbor lady, Mrs. Pease.
After comparing the two photographs I believe Mrs. Pease is the lady on the right (below) which means the lady standing behind my grandmother could be my great grandmother.
What do you think?
This assumption gained new legs when I compared photos of my great aunt Millie (from the Sunday picnic breakfast scene) through the years.
Here she is with my mother and uncle, aged 2 1/2 and 18 months respectively.
And years later at my mother’s wedding (on the left).
Yup, I’m reasonably sure I’m right although I’ll never really know. All I know for sure is that one Sunday morning long ago three people had breakfast in a park somewhere and apparently that’s how they wanted to be remembered.
24 thoughts on “In the park where we had breakfast one Sunday morning”
I like guessing games like these too. They are fun.
I enjoyed this ride.
Thanks Bojana. These were hardworking second generation Americans who didn’t have time for sentiment – I’m lucky they even made time to take photographs!
It was sth rare and precious back then. Sth memorable, unlike today. Nb will remember today’s photos whereas we’ll always cherish the old stuff.
I love the sleuthing component of ancestry and photo ID’ing work. And I recognize the rollercoaster feelings – you flip a photo and …
YAY!! Writing! Someone has taken the time to record the pertinent details every researcher wants to know.
And then, “In the park where we had breakfast one Sunday morning.”
What park? Where? Who is this “We” ???
I’m sure that photo was probably sent to my Grandmother in a letter that got lost. As a nurse for most of her life she religiously kept track of events and the weather in a calendar which somehow was lost. I’d dearly love to have that calendar but at least I remember it.
What a pity!
Hi. It’s too bad that countless photographs contain zero identifying info on the back.
Good luck with your furnace situation. How long will the repair/replacement take?
Gads – they’re still here. It’s a completely new system and so they are all over the house. Absolutely no privacy and the cat has gone into permanent hiding. We may have heat by Saturday!
I am really enjoying these trips down memory lane with you it’s really lovely. I know it’s wearing but I have to smile at your conversation with your mum 💜
Thanks Willow – that cow really made an impression on my mother.
It must have been nice to have had breakfast in a park. I’ve never done that. Perhaps I shall one day.
I agree with you, if Mrs Pease is in the photos, she’s the one on the right — as the other three are obviously related.
I, too, have cherished memories of farm animals, I remember them from when I didn’t know pig from horse.
The funny thing is my mother’s not much of a animal lover. But it was the depression and I imagine having a cow next door was a great comfort.
My email is messed up. Please send me one. I wanted you to see this.
Somehow it fits, at least in our world. Thanks. Duke
Thanks Duke – true.
Nicely done. You remind me I need to preserve old pictures for future generations. (Sorry about your abestos – let me know if you need a place to escape!)
Yeah – it was yet another expensive shock! Luckily we hadn’t yet planned any vacations and it is nice having a furnace that doesn’t sound like it’s about to blow up.
Asbestos is nasty stuff… Love those old pics!
Yes, it’s comforting to know it’s gone and that we’re not breathing it. I love the old photos too. I wish I knew how to preserve them.
Keep them in a safe dry place that has a pretty constant temperature and away from direct sunlight. Scanning them is also a good idea so you have digital copies for showing/sharing etc. 🙂
Hi – I guess folks did not even think of adding names to the photo backs –
but it would have helped.
and I like how you opened the post and ended with the breakfast photo …
and laughing at the:
“I think you meant to say she was dead before you were born. You’re still alive.”
and not in a bad way – just a human thing and the way you wrote it –
enjoyed exploring the old photos with you
Thank you. Mother’s never been particularly sentimental. Neither was her mother which I guess is why the pictures were just kind of thrown together. At least she saved them.
Yes – at least she saved them is right 😉
A couple of years back I took all my grandparents’ photos, put them in an album and attempted to label them. I had no one to ask so I gave it my best shot. I must admit I was glad when I had it all done. 🙂
Me too … it’s sad to see all these people your grandparents must have cared about and have no idea who they are. And what to do with them? Hate throwing away pictures but I’m certain my children will have even less of an idea.