Friday, January 24, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Don't Turn Your Back

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





This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt focuses on the very thing that defines “winter” in the northern hemisphere:  SNOW.  However, here in Virginia, winters can pass us by without the first sign of a snowflake.  We are just as likely to be able to craft a snow angel or small snowman in early spring. 

In October 1925, a snowstorm out of the Gulf of Mexico dumped between 1 and 3 inches of the white stuff up and down the east coast from Virginia to Southern New England.  The unexpected mix of orange leaves and snow must have delighted the college girls at Harrisonburg Teachers College, judging by the number of photos in my grandaunt Velma Davis Woodring’s scrapbook. 

Many of the pictures were taken on campus looking across Main Street to the Wellington apartments where Velma lived during her college days. 

Velma Davis Woodring Oct 1925 Harrisonburg Teachers College (now James Madison University)
Velma Davis Woodring October 1925
Not the best shoes for snow!

Leta LeVow Oct 1925 Harrisonburg Teachers College (now James Madison University)
College roommate Leta LeVow October 1925

Oct 1925 Harrisonburg Teachers College




A couple photos made me think the girls had enjoyed a bit of a snowball fight.  However upon closer inspection of the enlarged scanned version, I discovered that what I thought was the remnants of a well-aimed snowball was actually a FACE. 


A face of Uncle Sam?? 

And a dog??

















And here’s another strange coat with what? a cat? on the back.













                                                                                    
What kind of coats were these?  Is it a joke or did the flapper generation actually dress like this?






Grab a coat and slip on over to Sepia Saturday for more wintery tales and scenes.

21 comments:

  1. Those coats are awesome!! I really want to know the story behind the pictures on the back.

    Paula@SweetPea

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    1. Me too but I'm not having any luck.

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  2. :) Love the coats! Could the pictures have been some kind of fad?

    Have a great weekend.

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    1. I'm assuming it was a fad -- I haven't seen any others like them online.

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  3. Oh what style and grace, so very stunning. I have a friend who moved there for one year, and she experienced a lot of snow, something she grew very tired of from her Minnesota days. She now lives in Florida! She just moved there this last summer.

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    1. Ever since my older daughter went to grad school in Florida she's been a whimp in cold weather.

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  4. Those pixilated coats of the 20's are today's art & phrase laden t-shirts. The 1920's were, in their own way, much like the '60's in that they were a time for breaking free from tradition. The pictures on the coats could have simply been a fad of those particular girls - or perhaps those particular college students. On the other hand, the fad might have been more widespread than that. However, I've never seen anything like them before. Too bad they weren't explained.

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    1. I've Googled every phrase I can think of trying to find similar pictures or some evidence that these coats were THE thing in the 1920s but no luck.

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  5. The Uncle Sam coat is really unusual. It looks like at least some of the girls had fur coats.

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  6. Fad or no...the coats are sure a great look for the 1920's. Look at those BUTTONS on Leta's coat. Wonder if they were mink or squirrel...LOL!! I'm betting those Gals came up with the 'Designs' on the back of their coats as a 'protest' of some sort...they look like Rebellettes! Fun post, Wendy and really neat pictures.

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  7. I do hope someone can come up with an explanation of those interesting coats. And as for the shoes ! I feel cold just even thinking of standing out in the snow in such everyday shoes. A great collection of photos.

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  8. I'm pretty sure the character in the top hat is Jiggs from the comic strip "Bringing Up Father" sometimes called "Maggie and Jiggs" The black cat applique does not have white muzzle of Felix the Cat which was a popular animated cartoon character. I think they could be sorority costumes.

    Here in western NC we have COLD but little snow, but I know my parents have had several inches in Virginia Beach only a mile from the ocean!

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  9. Love the coats, hope you find out what they were all about at some point.

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  10. With shoes like those they were in danger of catching chilblains.

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  11. Of all the STUFF Violetta and Velma saved, we have no coats! Frankly, I am shocked. I guess they bit the dust. Hope you learn the mystery behind the coats. Fun post!

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  12. Those coats are a study themselves, the fur appears warm and then the ones with the artwork on the back are something new to me. With the arctic cold we have been having I have used the very heavy fur coat from my late aunt, it's heavy though and takes strength to wear. Nice post of the flapper fashions.

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  13. Great photos, so glad the snow gave them an excuse to take these and memorialize those coats too. I remember walking a half mile during IL college, in snow to go somewhere that I needed to be dressed up for, with stockings and dress shoes...but it was definitely a fast walk. Never had a decorated coat (it was the 60s) nor a fur one.

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  14. What interesting coats! I also wonder if these were unique since they made a point of taking pictures of the backs of these coats.

    Brrr! These girls were not wearing boots in that snow!

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  15. I have never associated Virginia with snow, so thank you for enlightening me, though now I think of it, I remember seeing pictures on TV of Washington DC in a snowstorm. .Those first two coats were so stylish, but I Agree with Jana, the others look as if they had special designs on the back - and shown off in the photos.

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  16. Oh, those are fabulous coats (and fabulous pictures).What on earth can be the origin of those designs?

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  17. You had some great photos to share. I like the coats and the scene with all the snow on the outside tree is wonderful.

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