Friday, December 14, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Lovers adrift


Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows lovers kissing across two vessels.  If we carry that image to its logical conclusion, those boats will drift apart, and the lovers will be separated.

The symbolism implied in the photo extends to the story of my great aunt and uncle, Catherine Walsh and Steve Barany.  

Steve and Catherine Barany



Could two people look any happier?
Steve and Catherine Barany

Steve and Catherine Barany























In her teen years my aunt Betty (Beverly Slade Anderson) visited Aunt Cat and Uncle Steve in their Washington D.C. home many times.

Jackie, Steve, Betty in Washington, D.C.
Jackie, Steve Barany, Betty (Beverly Slade Anderson)


Aunt Betty said Cat and Steve were lots of fun.  Steve made sure to show Betty and her friend Jackie a good time, usually going to hockey games and other sporting events, but they also toured the historic sites of Washington D.C.

Cat and Steve were loved by their neighbors.  They had lots of friends and enjoyed parties.

Steve and Catherine Barany
Steve and Catherine Barany on the left
with neighbors on the right

Steve and Catherine Barany at a party
At what appears to be a birthday or New Years party,
Catherine and Steve are on the front row, far right.

Catherine Barany
Front row: Cat is smoking and wearing a dark striped
sweater.  I wonder what the tags were for.  

But there’s a dark side to their story. 

By day, Steve was a machinist in the Navy Yard.  By night, he was a bookie.  He ran his business in the basement of their home.  No one was allowed to answer the phone except him.  If the call was for Cat or Betty, he rang a little bell to let them know to pick up the phone upstairs. 

The Barany household must have been much like that of George and Martha in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  Cat and Steve fought too much.  They also drank too much. Maybe that came with Steve’s business.  Maybe it was part of the Irish curse that Cat would become an alcoholic like her brother and two of her sisters. 

So like lovers on two different boats, Cat and Steve drifted apart.  Although legally separated, they continued to share the house in Washington D.C. for many years until Cat decided to return home to Portsmouth to be closer to her sisters.   In 1969, Cat and Steve died within months and miles of each other. 


Please visit Sepia Saturday for more stories of hugs and kisses, hello’s and good-bye’s, boats, and lovers.




© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

40 comments:

  1. A beautifully told story of love and disappointment. Cat and Steve looked so happy in the early photographs, but it all came crashing down.

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    1. I felt the same as you when I looked through the small stack of photos. Such a pity.

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  2. What a surprising ending to what looked like such a great relationship. I wonder if they stayed living together because his business was still in the basement.
    Nancy

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    1. I'm sure it was a matter of economics.

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  3. I admire the way you described the symbolism in the theme picture. Then you confronted us with what we just read and it still came unexpected. Well done, Wendy!

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  4. What a melancholy story, Wendy. I always dread hearing this kind of story about my own friends. I suppose sometimes it can't be helped, but that never stops me from hoping it turned out otherwise. I'm a firm believer in the dream of growing old together.

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  5. Wendy, one more interesting, so quite sad love story from the past.

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    1. Thanks, Titania. Too many sad love stories.

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  6. I love that you know so much about your family's history. This is an interesting story and does indeed sound like a movie!

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    1. Thanks, Paula. I'm just beginning to gather stories about this side of the family.

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  7. oh yeah, I forgot that he was a bookie and WOW, I didn't know Cat had dark hair! I always thought she was a redhead! LOL

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    1. I know! I knew her hair was dyed red, but I had never seen her with her natural color.

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  8. Such a sad story. Smiling faces can hide a lot...

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  9. An unexpected and sad ending to a story which seemed so happy in the photographs.

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    1. I never really knew Aunt Cat in her younger and happier days.

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  10. Maybe the camera can lie--or at least it doesn't know what's really going on. Great photos, but unfortunate story.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

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    1. I hope they really were happy in these photos, and that maybe they didn't bring out the camera after the happiness ended.

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  11. Oh! Too bad that things turned out so sad for them. They did look happy in their pictures. You did a great job on this post, Wendy.

    Kathy M.

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  12. Appearances can deceive apparently, because they looked genuinely happy in their pictures. No forced smiles there -- the eyes glitter. Did she put up with it because of the financial benefits? Think she didn't deserve a stand-up guy? Or was she smitten in spite of the challenges?

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    1. All good questions, but no answers. Even my Aunt Betty doesn't know. I'm pretty sure they lived together after the divorce for financial reasons.

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  13. Great photos and a sad ending. We had a bookie family living in our neighborhood and nobody even guessed until there was a police raid. Actually the family was pretty happy and seemed well adjusted. Now when I read this about the secrecy and think about the risk they were living with, they probably weren't as happy as they appeared. Demon rum ruined many family in those days...today, with all the help available for addiction, they might have had a happier ending.

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    1. One of Steve and Cat's friends who was also a bookie was arrested, but Steve managed to avoid being caught. A bit of a miracle, I guess.

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  14. Wow! What an unexpected ending to a seemingly happy love story at the start. How very sad. Did they ever have children?

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    1. No, they never had children - maybe a good thing in this case.

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  15. You told us in the beginning it didn't end well. Maybe they were happy in the beginning or maybe they were masters of the camera smile. My question is, how can you tell her hair isn't red in the photos since they are not in color?

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    1. Oh Kristin, you're funny. When my sister and I knew Cat, we were kids. Her hair was a bright red, orangey red. I have another photo of Cat with her hair dyed, and it appears almost blond in a black and white photo.

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  16. I laughed as the progression of photos kept multiplying the snuggling couples, and sighed at the ironic conclusion. Life is most definitely not what it seems. A very well crafted post, Wendy.

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    1. Well Mr. Mike, I wish I could claim the progression of photos was my plan all along. So if I can't be smart, I'm glad to be lucky.

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  17. What a fabulous interpretation of the theme. A visual and a literary treat. A pleasure to read.

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  18. Unfortunate end to that story. You just don't know the inside story behind an outwardly happy couple.

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  19. Keeping up appearances, so it would seem.
    My own parents knew something about that...
    Sad when something like that comes and ruins everything.
    Love is not always enough.
    :/~
    HUGZ

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    1. "Love is not always enough" - that's profound. Love songs would have us think otherwise. Now I'm thinking about some couples I know and have known who LOVE/LOVED each other but just couldn't be together. What was missing?

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  20. Though a sad true life story, they made for an interesting Sepia tale.

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    1. Thanks. On to a happier story next week, let's hope!

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