Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Boys Will Be Girls

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.





My parents attended a Halloween party in 1959.  The women  were required to dress as men and the men as women.  Didn’t Fred and Mary Eleanor make a lovely couple?















Friday, October 25, 2013

Sepia Saturday: "Breaking the Ice" - Take 2

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




This week’s Sepia Saturday is a special day:  it marks the 200th edition of Sepia Saturday.  To commemorate this amazing milestone, participants have been invited to share ONE of their own favorite contributions which will be collected in a keepsake book. 

As a family historian, I always try to link the weekly prompt to a family member and story.  I chose the story about my dad’s service in the Coast Guard for a couple reasons.  First, my response to the original prompt forced me to do research, and I always appreciate that kick in the pants.  Second, the process of writing the post made me see my dad, REALLY see him and his character in a way that I probably always knew subconsciously but had never thought about before.  Besides all that, the photos themselves are rather interesting for their historic and cultural value.

Now I present “Breaking the Ice,” the response to prompt #146 on October 6, 2012.

When Alan selected the photo for this week’s Sepia Saturday challenge, he was dreaming of his upcoming luxury vacation cruise.  While I’ve never been on a cruise, my dad did some cruising.

In the Coast Guard. 
My dad Fred R. Slade, Jr.

He enlisted shortly after high school on February 11, 1946, and was honorably discharged May 12, 1947. One year in service to our country must have been the minimum to qualify for the GI Bill enabling him to enroll in college for the fall semester.

Daddy was stationed in Boston, Massachusetts.  He loved Boston and he spent as much of his free time as possible at the Boston Symphony or at Fenway Park watching those Red Sox.  His work as a seaman involved decommissioning four ships.  I suppose that means he was cleaning out drawers and removing cannonballs preparing to spike the cannon.

USCGC Eastwind
photo courtesy of USCG.mil

He was assigned to the USCGC Eastwind, a wind-class icebreaker, considered the most technologically advanced icebreaker in its day. Icebreakers are special-purpose ships with a strengthened hull and an ice-clearing shape, with power to push through ice-covered waters. 











Breaking through the icy waters near Greenland.

The Eastwind and ships like it were able to drive their bow ONto the ice, breaking the ice under their weight.  The specially designed hull enabled the ship to direct broken ice either around or under the vessel; otherwise the buildup of broken ice could slow it down.   










Lowering a truck into a smaller boat
to transport to the air base

The Eastwind made four trips to Greenland patrolling the waters, but mainly supplying bases there.


I don’t ever recall seeing Daddy’s scrapbook of his time in the Coast Guard until after his death.  So I’m totally without stories about his shipmates and their work, which he faithfully documented in photos. 















But the scrapbook reflects Daddy’s personality and the traits that I have come to associate with him. 

First of all, he was always sentimental about mothers and children. 

Inuit people of Greenland


















Inuit family in front of their home



















He was curious about other cultures.



The powerful icebreaker held as much fascination for the Inuit as the kayaks did for Daddy and his shipmates.



He was in awe of nature’s majesty.






He was always amused by the antics of children and animals.

A most loved companion - "Skunk"


Skunk was the ship’s mascot.  Although mascots were not officially allowed, most captains turned a blind eye as long as the animal was cared for and boosted morale.  And in typical mascot fashion, Skunk didn’t belong to anyone in particular and would follow along with the men when they went ashore, even to the bars.  The men made sure Skunk sat on his own bar stool and drank some beer.  Yeeeaah, I guess there was no PETA chapter in Thule.










To see what other Sepians have selected as their favorite posts, please visit Sepia Saturday.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: The Ballplayer

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Unknown African-American baseball player about 1918-1921 Portsmouth, Virginia



Among photos passed down to me from my grandaunts Lillie Killeen and Helen Killeen Parker is this picture of a Negro baseball player.  I don’t know who he is or how Lillie and Helen came to have his picture.  Did he play on a local team?  A traveling team?  Was he an acquaintance?  The date is unknown, but most of the photos are from 1918-1921.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Let's Pretend


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




This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is a picture of a theatrical troupe in costume.  The stage is probably the ultimate world of pretend where an otherwise unassuming person can release his inner villain and a fresh-faced youngster can be transformed into a crippled oldster with the aid of a wig and makeup. 

As a child growing up in the Cradock neighborhood of Portsmouth, Virginia, my stage was my grandparents’ garage.  Every summer discarded window screens were rearranged to create walls for houses or schools.  Paint cans were lined up as sofas and chairs.  Stoves and refrigerators were drawn with chalk between studs. 

Wendy and the Allen girls, Portsmouth, VA about 1959
Left to right: The Allen girls Anne, Mary, Peggy,
and moi on the far right in a red and white dress
buttoned behind me to create some exotic outfit.



All my friends contributed dress-ups so that we looked the part of teachers, mommies, pioneers, or whatever was the character du jour.















Mary Jollette Slade and Susan 1966, Portsmouth, VA
My sister's friend Susan (left)
and my sister Mary Jollette (right) in 1966
both wearing taffeta gowns that had belonged
to my mother.

I loved playing dress-up.

And speaking of dressing up, I must cut this post short.  I have to get dressed up.  There’s some place I need to be.  Can you guess where and why?




All the world’s a stage at Sepia Saturday where my friends will be making plenty of curtain calls. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: A Wedding at Home

Wedding Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is wedding photos, announcements, and invitations.


Wedding Book Velma Davis Woodring 1927


This pretty little keepsake is the cover of a wedding book most likely presented by a minister as a gift to the bride and groom.  In this instance, the bride was my grandaunt Velma Davis who married Arthur “Woody” Woodring on January 15, 1927. 

The minister, Arthur Maiden, was a cousin by marriage, married to Velma’s cousin Minnie Coleman Maiden. 

The wedding was held in the parlor of Velma’s home in Shenandoah, Virginia.

Wedding of Woody and Velma Davis Woodring 1927
Woody and Velma
January 15, 1927

Wedding gifts were on display in the dining room.

Wedding gifts of Velma Davis Woodring 1927
Wedding Gifts


The guest book was simply loose half-sheets of paper folded to create a booklet. No sticker for decoration.  No bow to hold it together.  Not even a staple.

Guest Book at wedding of Woody and Velma Davis Woodring 1927
The cover of the Guest Book
I wonder if Velma didn't have enough paper
to start over.  This is not her handwriting.
Maybe her sister Violetta made this booklet for her.

Guest Book at wedding of Woody and Velma Davis Woodring 1927
Click to enlarge

It seems only some of the guests signed their own names because much of the handwriting looks the same.  Guests included Velma’s sister and brothers, some aunts and uncles and cousins, a few neighbors, and college friends.   There are no other “Woodrings,” so apparently Woody’s family did not make the trip from Pennsylvania for this happy occasion.

I wonder what my great-grandparents Walter and Mary Frances Jollett Davis served at their daughter’s reception.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Sepia Saturday: The House That Violetta Built

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




This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt of a ship under construction has given me an opportunity to display some of the photos that had been stuffed into an envelope and forgotten for many years.  They are of my grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan’s apartment building under construction. 

She was just a fairly young woman in the early 1930s when she broke ground at 473 South Mason Street in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  Her goal was financial independence.

Construction at 473 South Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA early 1930s
Breaking ground at 473 South Mason Street

Construction at 473 South Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA early 1930s
Supplies delivered to the back yard

Her plan was to build an apartment building with two floors and a basement, with two units on each floor. 






















Construction at 473 South Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA early 1930s

Construction at 473 South Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA early 1930s

Construction at 473 South Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA early 1930s












Construction at 473 South Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA early 1930s
Violetta was there to supervise - no surprise there!

She would occupy the left apartment on the first floor and rent the others. 


Construction at 473 South Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA early 1930s

Construction at 473 South Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA early 1930s
Look at that scaffolding!


Completed house 473 South Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA - front
Violetta's apartment was #1.  In the 1970s, she created a hall
through back-to-back closets and made #1 and #2
one big apartment.

By 1940, the house had been fully rented for at least 5 years, according to the census of that year.  Violetta and her husband Dick Ryan along with her mother Mary Frances Jollett Davis shared the one apartment.  Other renters included college professor Clyde Shorts and his wife and daughter, teacher Mona Lyon (who remained Violetta’s lifelong friend), factory owner Michael Mintzer and his wife and daughter, and telephone company engineer Henry Newman and his bride and baby.


Completed house 473 South Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA - back

In no time Violetta must have realized she had attic space that could be put to better use.  A renovation to the top floor brought her total to 7 apartments.

And what a lovely building she created too.  The fine details reflected in part the style of the day but also they were the result of Violetta’s desire for “nice things,” things like wood floors, beautiful wood moldings, brass doorknobs, brass chandeliers, fireplaces for each renter as well as one in the backyard.

Apt 6 473 South Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA  1973
Apt #6 - Note the beautiful woodwork,
fireplace, built-in bookshelves,
and just a snip of that brass chandelier.
Fireplace in the backyard of 473 South Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA
Violetta said that residents often held parties
together in the backyard.


Storage in even the basement apartments was generous with several deep closets, a kitchen pantry, and built-in bookshelves.  The four main apartments all enjoyed a beautiful porch facing South Mason.














While these photos would be considered just old photos to others, they are most fascinating to me because of the history.  The house at 473 South Mason was more than the Mecca of my youth when family vacations always included visits with Violetta.  It was home to many in my family at one time or another.

Violetta’s sister Velma lived for awhile in Apartment #6 in the basement, the same one I lived in as a bride.  Across the hall in #5 lived my cousin Glenn and his bride Rita.  Several years later my sister lived in #5 while in college.  The attic apartment (#7) was the newlywed nest for my cousin Barbara (Glenn’s sister) until the baby came along signaling they had outgrown the place. 


We youngins came and went but some of the residents were there a long time.  In fact, I can’t remember a time when they weren’t there.  Apartment #3 was home to Mrs. Ruth Cooper and #4 to Miss Rosalind Trent and her brother.

Ruth Cooper 1952
from 1952 yearbook
Madison College
Miss Rosalind Trent 1952
from 1952 yearbook
Madison College
Mrs. Cooper and Miss Trent were colleagues of Violetta’s at Madison College.  Mrs. Cooper was the sweetest little lady.  We always drove her to Richmond at Christmas so she could be with her family.  Miss Trent must have been the youngest of the three as she was still teaching English at the college even though Mrs. Cooper and Violetta had retired.  I took at least three English courses from Miss Trent, two during the same semester.  She even let me submit the same essay for both classes. 




Whenever I’m in Harrisonburg, I avoid driving down South Mason because my cousin assures me the house is just not the same, it's sad to say.  Like an old ship decommissioned and slated for scrap, 473 South Mason has lost her stature as a grand and desirable place to live.  I prefer to remember this house when it was one of the jewels of the neighborhood. 


Please visit my neighbors at Sepia Saturday to see what they’ve constructed this week. 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Grandma's Birthday


Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.



Lucille Rucker Davis and Rosalind Rucker Basham 1905
In the stroller:  my maternal grandmother about 1905
Standing:  her big sister Rosalind Rucker (Basham)


Lucille Mary Rucker Davis

October 9, 1904 – November 1, 1990


Friday, October 4, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Hold Still, Pal!

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




This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is the BAD photo, blurred, scratched, subject out of frame, whatever – just bad.  Fortunately – or UNfortunately – I have many that qualify.  In the days before digital photography, we weren’t aware of those bad shots until after we paid for them.  Maybe our ancestors thought, “I paid for it.  I’m keeping it.” 

As I’ve said repeatedly, the annual Jollett Reunion was a major social event not to be missed.  The albums passed down from my grandaunts Violetta and Velma are filled with the traditional “Group Photo” of everyone in attendance.  I’m sure many an evening was spent poring over the photo albums observing how people had changed.  There’s Millard.  There’s Sadie with the new baby.  Doesn’t Emma look good? 

But in 1925, they had this one to remember by:

Jollett Reunion 1925


Now, they didn’t KEEP this picture just because they paid for it.  Someone deemed it worthy of GLUING into the scrapbook.  They didn’t just toss it in the shoebox.  NO.  They GLUED it down.  Nobody was going to erase that day from memory.  No siree.   

A few years earlier and miles away, my grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker was preserving her own collection of bad photos including this one captioned “Just a picture”:

Photo in collection from Helen Killeen Parker about 1919
That's Helen bottom left, second one in.

Yeah, a picture that merited a caption.  And a lame one at that.

Helen didn’t stop with just the “white out” effect; she also kept photos with a “black out” effect, like this one captioned “Pals”:

Photo in collection from Helen Killeen Parker about 1919


Imagine being pals with the Headless Horseman!



Please make your way over to Sepia Saturday where the focus is on the “out of focus.”  Do not adjust your screen.