Friday, January 16, 2015

Sepia Saturday: What's the Word?

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



This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt features a court room scene.  The writing on the photograph reminds me of a habit exhibited by my grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker.  Unfortunately, that habit rarely included those bits of information that family historians long for:  names, locations and dates.  To be fair, Helen sometimes wrote the date on her photos, but most of the time she exercised her creative side by writing mildly humorous captions.

Like this one:

Unknown potential husbands in photo album of Helen Killeen Parker  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Ideal Husbands, yet to be
Numbers indicate who will be married first


Helen carefully analyzed these male friends for their marriageability.  I wonder if the #1 guy predicted to marry soon was her future husband, Herbert Parker.  Too bad Helen didn’t provide names so that I could determine whether her predictions came true. 

What is most endearing about Helen’s captions, though, is the insight into the popular expressions of the day, roughly 1918-1921.

The Vamp
Through her numerous roles in silent film in the early 1900s, Theda Bara popularized the image of the femme fatale, “the vamp.”  It’s logical to assume that any self-respecting young flapper would want to model herself after this sex-symbol.

Helen Killeen Parker about 1919   http://jollettetc.blogspot.comUnknown man "The Vamp" at Ocean View about 1919  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com





















Monkeys
“Monkeying around.”  “You little monkey!”  Such references to monkeys are still in use to mean children or joking around.  Helen drops that phrase into her scrapbook frequently, as if it were the latest slang.  Maybe it was a new expression in 1919.

Friends of Helen Killeen Parker about 1919  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Helen is the 2nd woman in the row.
Friends of Helen Killeen Parker about 1919  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Helen is the last woman in the row.























Friends and maybe sisters of Helen Killeen Parker about 1919
Helen is the 2nd one in.


Terrible
How Helen used the world “terrible” is not clear.


Helen Killeen Parker's photos of Ocean View about 1919  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com


Helen Killeen Parker's photos of Ocean View about 1919  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Helen is 2nd one in.
Others are unknown.
Ocean View about 1919

Helen Killeen Parker's photos of Ocean View about 1919  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Helen is on the right.



















Did “terrible” signal a veiled compliment delivered with a wink?  Did it suggest some sort of moral strength or upright behavior?  Or was it just plain ol’  sarcasm? 


Don’t monkey around.  It would be terrible if you missed the stories and photos by all the Ideal Husbands and Vamps at Sepia Saturday



© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

30 comments:

  1. Isn't it amazing how words get changed throughout the years - so interesting and I love the notion of picking and marking the ideal husbands!

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    1. It is fun to watch popular slang come and go. A word that has taken on a different meaning right now is "sick." Every time I hear a judge on a reality show swoon over a performance and call it "sick," it throws me.

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  2. ‘scuse me but isn’t that second vamp of the male gender? I hope he wasn’t a possible ideal husband and was just monkeying around!

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    1. HA - you must be butter because you're on a roll today! Yes, that's a male vamp monkeying around for sure. Terrible!

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  3. What a fun post! I think the term "terrible" meant mischievous. And "butter on a roll"? That's one I've never heard before, but it's great. :))

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    1. You haven't heard that? It's an old one. Pick up line: You must be peanut butter because you're making my legs feel like jelly.

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  4. Terrible seems kind of like awesome, and monkeys seems kind of like mugging for the camera--but I am still puzzled.

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    1. I think you're right about "terrible." That seems to fit those pictures.

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  5. Helen and gang were "cooler than the other side of the pillow" Yes, that was TERRIBLE.

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  6. Perhaps 'terrible' was the in word for great, fantastic, cool etc. Young people always seem to have buzz words like this.

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    1. True. When I was in high school, the buzz word was "boss."

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  7. Terrible = Mischievous?

    Another enjoyable and fun post!

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    1. Yeah, that might fit those photos.

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  8. The post is great, but the "must be butter because you're on a roll" was terrible, indeed.

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  9. This was a fun twist on the courtroom theme at Sepia Saturday. I think it's great fun to learn how words were used historically and to follow the changes in meaning across decades. I wonder if there's a slang dictionary for the 1910s-1920s. Your aunt probably didn't have in mind that descendants would want to know who the people in the photos were but created the album for herself and her friends' enjoyment. (I still have photos from my own life without names on them....)

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    1. I'm sure labeling those photos is on your to-do list. It's been on my list, oh, how many years now?

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  10. Helen's photo comments may not have been edifying but they are certainly entertaining!

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    1. When I knew Helen, she wasn't hilarious, but she did have a sweet sense of humor. I can see that playful side.

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  11. I just wonder whether all those men turned out to be ideal husbands and didn't spend too much time monkeying around.

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  12. Your Aunt Helen sounds like a lot of fun. Perfect match for the theme photo.

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    1. She was a lovely lady, very caring. I wish I had been interested in family history before she passed away.

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  13. A perfect fit to this weekend's theme. Helen's notes are not unlike today's social media comments, but no digital remarks can match handwritten words.
    You also have a rare view of a box camera in the two "Monkey" snaps on the tracks.

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    1. I'm glad you're looking at my photos because apparently I'm not. I noticed she was holding something but I guess I assumed it was a purse. I don't know what I thought. Maybe I didn't think anything. From time to time I have wondered about Helen's camera, and now I see it. Thanks for pointing it out.

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  14. Your grandaunt and my grandmother would have been great friends!

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  15. Well this was the cat's pajamas and the bees knees!

    Even if she didn't leave a trail of information about the people, she left a lot about herself and that's something special

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