Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.
This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt suggests football, but it is not football season here yet. My grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker’s collection of photos which were passed down to me includes one of each of the sports in-season right now: basketball and baseball.
When I saw this photo postcard of a basketball team, I first thought Helen might have had more athletic genes in her than I had given her credit for. Then the faint white lettering at the bottom caught my attention. With magnifying glass in hand, I strained to read it under a lamp, by a window, by a different lamp and a different window. Tilting the photo to the side, to the back and forward helped. Finally the words appeared:
Naval Supply Station Basketball Team
Naval Base Hampton Roads VA April 19, 1920
According to the 1920 census for Portsmouth, Virginia, 17-year old Helen was a stenographer at the Navy Base. What was the Navy doing with a women’s basketball team and was Helen a member?
My search for Helen on the team came to an end when I fiddled enough with that list of names on the left of the photo to realize “Killeen” was not there. What had looked like “Killeen” turned out to be “Ripler” or “Miller” or maybe even something else.
Left to Right
Ripler ? Miller?
Without more to go on, I cannot identify these members of the basketball team. There is a Mary Howard in the 1920 Portsmouth, Virginia census, living at home without occupation; however, coincidentally her sister Pauline was a typist at the Navy Base. Mildred Metcalf was listed in a couple city directories for 1922 and 1923 but alas, no mention of her occupation. A family of Mantinbands appears in those same directories but not in the census. So it occurs to me that perhaps these women were not residents but maybe Navy personnel, nurses maybe.
Obviously I can’t solve all the puzzles that old photos present, and this next one is no exception.
The time? Probably early 1920s at the latest based on the car and the dates on other photos in Helen’s albums.
The place? There is no sign of a stadium so maybe the players were local, maybe even one of the Navy’s intramural teams. The people in the background were dressed similar to people in another of Helen’s photos from a trip to either Richmond or Washington DC.
The people? No idea. Enlarging the patch on the uniform failed to produce a conclusive interpretation. NH? N4? 1YH? 1Y4? M4? MH?
Any other ideas?
See who else is in the line-up at Sepia Saturday.
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