Friday, March 1, 2013

Sepia Saturday: The Gazette


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





This week’s Sepia Saturday photo of the woman factory worker dressed in white brought to mind a beautiful graduation picture of my maternal grandfather’s cousin, Elta G. Sullivan Farrar.

Elta G. Sullivan Farrar before 1920


I’m assuming this was a high school graduation picture, taken before 1920.

My grandparents maintained a lifelong friendship with their cousins, and they visited often.  So as a kid, I met a lot of old people.  My memories of most of them are rather dim.  But my memories of Elta are clear because she was just so darn nice.  And friendly.  And cheerful.

In the Cradock neighborhood of Portsmouth, Virginia where I grew up, if you wanted to know what was going on in the community, you didn’t need to read the newspaper or wait for the news broadcast.  You just had to check with cousin Elta.  “Elta the Gazette” – that’s what my grandparents called her. 
Minnie, Pearl, Floral, and Leota Sullivan about 1901
Four of the Sullivan sisters
Back:  Minnie Sullivan Breeden
Left to right: Pearl S. Strole,
Elta S. Farrar, Floral S. Merica
about 1901

Who died? Who is getting married?  When is the baby due? The preacher said what?  Elta the Gazette was our source for any and all details that mattered.   My grandmother could be telling about how many flowers were at so-n-so’s funeral and about some store going out of business.  If we asked where she heard that, her answer was usually, “The Gazette.”  Oh well, then, it had to be true.

How Elta managed to gather all the latest news (and gossip) from the local community as well as from “back home” in Shenandoah where she and my grandparents grew up was always the mystery.  Did she have a Deep Throat source we didn’t know about? 

Lucille Rucker Davis and Elta Sullivan Farrar before 1990
Left: My grandmother Lucille Rucker Davis
Right:  Elta Sullivan Farrar

Maybe Elta’s knack for getting the scoop was just her sweet and engaging personality that made people want to tell her things.   


Be sweet and stop by Sepia Saturday



© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

46 comments:

  1. She looks like a sweetheart. I'm willing to bet your guess is correct. :)

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    1. Thanx for the vote of confidence!

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  2. She looks quite cute as a youngster and as someone who liked a good natter as a grown-up.

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    1. I'm getting quite the lesson in British slang, Mike. And you're right -- she did enjoy a good natter. She was always very animated too.

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  3. "Elta the Gazette" sats it all. I meet an old lady in our village who would qualify for a similar title. She tells me things I didn't know about myself and how I became know as 'Bob, The Bramble' to distinguish me from another man named Bob.

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    1. Soooo, how DID you become known as Bob the Bramble?

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  4. What a lovely graduation picture. It's lovely that you included a picture of Elta in her older years.

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    1. Yeah, when I ran across that picture of my grandma and Elta in their last years, I was glad to have a reason to use it.

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  5. I love seeing your grandmother and Elta together as older women. How wonderful that they remained close all those years!

    It's funny you commented about "old" people. My grandparents (all four of them) lived in Fresno their entire adult lives and they had a bunch of friends there. My recollection of visiting them was that Fresno was just a city of old people because that's all we saw. I haven't been there in 30 years and I wonder if it's still filled with just old people.

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    1. It is funny how our perceptions are formed when we're kids. That moment of clarity in later years is like a paradigm shift.

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  6. I love the gazette tag, and Elta looks as sweet in old age as at her graduation.

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    1. We always thought Grandma was funny when she referred to Elta that way. It always made us laugh. Elta really was one of the sweetest people ever.

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  7. Wonderful pictures and story. What a great reporter would Miss Elta have been.

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  8. I'm betting all your guesses are right! You are so lucky to have these photos and all the stories of their lives together.

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    1. I am lucky. I wish I knew more stories or at least had a better memory about some of my older relatives and ancestors.

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  9. I'm guessing those who went to Elta for the latest gossip gave as much as they got. That pfirst portrait of Elta is so characteristic of the period between the wars. The shade os sepia and the way which it is mounted was peculiar to those decades, although it was far more common in the US than in the UK.

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    1. I love the style of portraits then. Maybe it's the clothes. They look so cool and whispy. I can see ladies of that time sipping lemonade on a porch swing, baskets of fern dotted around nearby.

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  10. Ella sounds lovely. I thought the same way as Titania. Nowadays Ella would probably be like a CNN personality.

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    1. Ha -- I was thinking more like "Entertainment Tonight."

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  11. Love those photos!
    I have a similar grad photo of my father from 1927. Such lovely photos- proud of an accomplishment, compared to today's grad photos.

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    1. Yes, there was a lot of pride in getting that diploma.

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  12. A sweet memento that really captured the essence of Elta. The girl's expressions in the second photo are priceless. My grandmother was a similar hub in the social network of the old analog days. She kept notes of every telephone conversation on a stenographer pad that recorded all the details of every call. I still have dozens of these pads, each a history of family and neighborhood news.

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    1. Those notepads must be fun to read. It's amazing that someone didn't just roll their eyes and send them to the dumpster years ago.

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  13. Elta must have been known as a good listener also in order to gather all the news..

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    1. I hadn't thought of that, but you're probably right.

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  14. Wendy,

    What a fun post. "Elta the Gazette." That's priceless. Now I have to know. Did Elta know about her nickname?

    And speaking of priceless, those are priceless photos you've shared with us. Elta sounds like a very sweet and special lady.

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    1. No, I doubt Grandma called her "the Gazette" to her face.

      I love the last picture of Elta visiting Grandma at the nursing home.

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  15. That dress is so pretty! Wouldn't you love to still have it? Etta sounds like a special lady.

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    1. I bet the dress was so soft and light.

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  16. I bet Etta would have made a brilliant blogger. We are probably the inheritors of the informal news sharing operation that used to be undertaken by people like Etta

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    1. Now I'm wondering what kind of nickname people will slap on me.

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  17. Nice when you have some stories to go along with the old pictures - and also photos of people both when they were young and as they grew older!

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    1. I wish I could say that for more of my ancestors.

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  18. Never a dull moment with people like Elta, what a nice pictorial record of her life.

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  19. You have such a wonderful sense of humor and it seems to be a family trait - Etta the Gazette... Love the story and pictures. Bet she was delightful.

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    1. She was delightful. Some old people don't want to be bothered with kids, but she always made a point of chatting a little with me.

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  20. Wendy, this was such a sweet post. I love Elta's nickname. We have a family member on my Dad's side known as "My Hell", because that was her favorite phrase.

    Kathy M.

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    1. "My Hell" sounds like a nickname I could expect based on other stories I've read about your family. That's hilarious.

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  21. What wonderful ladies. I love people that always know what is going on.

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  22. What a lovely memorial to a sweet lady. I bet she is remembered by a lot of people who came in contact with her. Great photos. Love the one of the 4 sisters.

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  23. I know my mom could spend hours on the phone, gossiping with a friend or cousin about the folks from her hometown. And then she'd give my father an update on the "situation[s]"...

    Elta looked very pretty in her graduation picture.

    I've also enjoyed your two "fearless women" chronicles above.
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  24. Such lovely photos all of which tell a story. Congratulations, too, on managing to reply to so many comments - you are kept very busy!

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