Friday, September 27, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Cough! Cough!

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt of the little boy lying sick in bed has given me an opportunity to share this photo:

John Jr. and Bob 1922
Photo from collection of Helen Killeen Parker
Photo dated 1922

They certainly look like healthy kids.   However, scrawled on the back is this note:

From collection of Helen Killeen Parker
"These were taken Mar. 1922
while they had whooping cough."

Whooping cough!!  What were their parents thinking?  Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease, one that lasts about six weeks.  As everyone knows, whooping cough has accounted for deaths of many children. 

While I do not know the fate of these two, I have been interested in these children ever since I featured them HERE one Sepia Saturday when they were romping on the beach. 

They are John Jr. and Bob, surname unknown.

Photo from collection of Helen Killeen Parker, dated March 1922
Click to enlarge

And here they are again suffering with whooping cough.  

They were with that same woman who was with them at the beach.  And the same poodle. 

Closeup of Bob's hair

In the earlier post, I had observed that “Bob” looked like a girl but was a boy.  Bob.  His name was Bob.  But looking closely at THIS photo, I now believe Bob is – cough cough – a girl.  He’s got a barrette in his hair.  I mean, SHE does.  WHAT?

Here’s another photo of John and Bob:

Josie, John Jr., Bobie, from collection of Helen Killeen Parker

And a note of confirmation on the back:

Josie, Bobie, and John Jr.
Bob suck her thumm  [sic]

Well wuddayaknow.  Now I have a new clue to help identify this family.  I wonder – is Bob/Bobie a nickname for Barbara or Roberta or something totally unrelated? 

Please visit Sepia Saturday - the perfect antidote for whatever ails you.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Nice detective work Wendy. It's a curious spelling of Bobby, with a single B, even as a girl's name it usually has two (Bobby or Bobbie) short for Roberta. Fancy taking them out and about whilst they were so sick!

  2. Ah my second cousin Roberta (whot just put on the Life Tribute for her mother) is called Robbie for short! Still today by her hubby, so you just never know. It sure does show how everything folks caught back then spread so quickly back in the day, by taking them out like that, doesn't it. They are adorable little ones, and I'm curious about who they all were too! I know one day you'll have all the pieces of their lives unfold right here.

  3. How funny-another Bobbie in the family-or maybe not in the family. Good work!

  4. It's odd, to me, anyway, that some mothers paid little mind to what their children wore in days of yore. My husband's mother put girls' bonnets on him to protect him from the sun & took photos of him that way. When I began going through all the old photographs I had a hard time telling him apart from early pictures of his sisters!

  5. How do you know they had whooping cough when the photo was taken? Could it have been taken before they were sick?

  6. Ohhh, the photos were taken while they had whooping cough. I thought it said they were "taken" while they had whooping cough ie. they died. Hope they lived.

  7. I don't remember anyone having whooping cough when I was young, but I have been hearing a lot about kids catching it lately.

  8. Yes Postcardy - lots more of it about now that people are a bit anxious about having vaccinations I think.

  9. A super post that fits the Sepia Saturday theme and the larger category of "What Were They Thinking?

  10. Good detective work finding that Bob is a girl! Often children were dressed androgynously making it difficult to determine with our gender specific perspective.

  11. I love that thumb sucking! My bet would be on "Robert."
    As for whooping cough- it is making a return since people are opting out of vaccinating their children. When my daughter was i treatment, her immune system was suppressed and she did contract whooping cough. Thankfully she was big enough and her lungs developed so she did not have too tough of a time. It is really terrible for young children.

  12. Don't you love how sepia saturday makes us look more closely at photos in our collection we wouldn't normally spend much time on? It leads us to all sorts of interesting finds - good luck finding Bob / Bobie

  13. Good luck. I hope that you can identify them.

    The lady in all the photos with the kids looks very imposing and like she would have been very firm.

  14. There were whooping cough epidemics when I was young during WWII) but I avoided it. I remember my mother telling me that my uncles wore frocks when they were young. I was horrified at the thought.

  15. I love finding gender bending vintage snapshots. It's always fun to leave you wondering.

  16. They seemed pretty cheerful for sick kids...
    Can't get over the Bob thing...
    Ah, the boy who was a girl!!!
    People will be confused in a century or so,
    looking back at our photos now
    as there are so many youngsters looking quite androgynous...

  17. I just had lunch yesterday with my friend, Bobi, which is short for Roberta.