Friday, February 5, 2016

Sepia Saturday: Who's Behind Those Foster Grants?

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


This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows a crowd around a man with a movie camera. As a child, I envied friends whose parents took movies of their vacations. My parents never owned a movie camera. Maybe the 8 mm was too much extravagance for a family whose summer trips consisted of tours of battlefields and natural attractions in our home state, Virginia. But like some of the on-lookers in the prompt photo, my mother sported some large white framed sunglasses, a distinct fashion trend in the summer of 1965 when we toured the Shenandoah Valley.

Mary Eleanor Davis Slade Aug 1965 http://jollettet.blogspot.com
Mary E. Slade August 1965
Mt. Vernon Motel Charlottesville, Virginia

Mary Eleanor Davis Slade and Mary Jollette Slade Pollock Aug 1965 http://jollettet.blogspot.com
My mother and sister Mary Jollette August 1965
Mt. Vernon Motel Charlottesville, Virginia
I am ALMOST in the picture along with my camera case.
Usually there are large gaps of time between snapshots of my childhood, but in August 1965, Daddy was the consummate shutterbug capturing the stops along our vacation across Virginia. The exact chronology of the stops and hotel stays are long forgotten, but the photos prove we had a grand ol’ time at the Mount Vernon Motel in Charlottesville. No doubt a trip to Charlottesville included a ride through the campus of Daddy’s alma mater, THE University of Virginia, aka “Mr. Jefferson’s University.” Highlights always included the Rotunda, the Lawn, the stadium, and, of course, Copeley Hill where my parents lived while he was in school along with other married students who became their life-long friends.

Not far from Charlottesville is the Skyline Drive. That summer, we stopped at Big Meadows Wayside, a lodge, restaurant, and visitor center. We probably bought some lunch and shopped for souvenirs. Bear sightings, especially around the campgrounds, are common on the Drive, so a stuffed bear for my sister was an appropriate purchase.

Wendy Slade, Mary E. Slade, Mary Jollette Slade Skyline Drive 1965 http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Skyline Drive Aug 1965
Me, Momma holding her sunglasses,
Mary Jollette holding her little black bear
Even though the ride along Skyline Drive offers the same vista view for miles and miles and miles, we always stopped at various overlooks. I would bet my mother’s favorite was Naked Creek Overlook where she might gaze down over the land that once belonged to our ancestor Fielding Jollett and others we were yet to learn about.

At the opposite end of the Shenandoah Valley is Natural Bridge near Lexington in Rockbridge County. Admittedly the appeal of this National Historic Landmark was lost on me in 1965, maybe because the summer heat was trapped in the walkway leading to the big hunk of stone. I was not sure why we bothered. Did I even notice where George Washington had carved his initials “G. W.” when he surveyed the surrounding site in 1750?
Wendy Slade, Mary Eleanor Slade, Mary Jollette Slade at Natural Bridge Aug 1965  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Natural Bridge Aug 1965
I'm sure Momma's sunglasses are in her left hand
along with a sweater and purse.
Natural Bridge 1965 http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
While I was not impressed, my mother’s family always held a soft spot for Natural Bridge. According to family lore, the Marquis de Lafayette was given the land where Natural Bridge stands in gratitude for his service during the Revolutionary War. Then supposedly he passed it on to some woman in our family who then gave it or sold it to Thomas Jefferson. What? No history of Natural Bridge that I have ever read mentions Lafayette, let alone a member of my family. Historians confirm that Thomas Jefferson purchased Natural Bridge from King George III for 20 shillings in 1774 – BEFORE the Revolution. However, our family does have a connection to Rockbridge County: my maternal grandfather’s paternal grandmother was from Rockbridge County. Maybe she lived near Natural Bridge, close enough to justify such a wild tale.

On reflection, I have come to appreciate how much of our summer was not just a time to rejuvenate but also an opportunity for my parents to pass along family stories. So what if we had no movie camera!

Grab your Foster Grants, your Ray-Bans, your Oakleys, or no-name shades because it’s Lights! Camera! Action! all day at Sepia Saturday.


© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

29 comments:

  1. Good spotting of those white sunglasses wuth matching family shots! Mary doesn't look too happy to be photographed in that first picture, but perhaps she was just feelng cold after a swim.

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    1. Evidently she was cold. Momma looks cold too.

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  2. Ah yes, the big white-framed sunglasses. I had a pair or two of those in the '60s. That was quite a summer trip!

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    1. Mine had a dark frame, but a few years later I had lime green frames.

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  3. Such lovely memories, even without moving pictures. You mother looks very fashionable with her statement sunglasses. Good to look back and enjoy what you had.

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    1. Thanks. I am sure my mother chose those glasses with fashion in mind although you wouldn't know it by the clothes she was wearing which look rather basic. Maybe they were fashionable too, I don't know.

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  4. We must have been freezing at the pool in C'ville. Momma has on a sweater and I look cold.

    I am glad Momma and Daddy stuck to taking us around Virginia; we were always ahead in history class!

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    1. Maybe it was later in the day. It doesn't look like I had on a sweater.

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  5. Your sister, sitting hunched with arms akimbo, does not look too happy, as if she is getting a telling off from your mother. One of those episodes that can happen on family holidays!

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    1. I know what you mean. She insists she was cold, but she does look rather pouty.

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  6. Loved the pictures and the memories of those days of long ago. I think the best part was the sharing of family stories.

    Betty

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    1. I'm glad they shared the family stories.

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  7. I can relate to your lack of interest in history at that point. I was about thirty before interest started kicking in. Good thing your father took all those pictures.

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    1. Yes, I'm much more interested today than back then.

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  8. Great collection of vacation shots...including the "Sights to see". The sunglasses are a winner!

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    1. Thanks. We hit the hot spots, that's for sure.

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  9. I have my grandmothers photos but very few of us kids. I don't remember mum or dad having a camera. My grandmother did so I believe that the photos that we have were taken my Gran.

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    1. It seems like we didn't have a camera for a long time. Maybe my dad was using my camera.

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  10. We both spotted the potential of the sunglasses this week! Our Summers were also filled with educational trips, even if some were just days out; I guess the love of learning stayed with us both.

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    1. You and I are very often on the same wave length. I've noticed even in our comments to others, we notice the same thing or respond the same way. Often I have to change my comment because you beat me to it!

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  11. Ahhh, if you'd had a movie camera you'd be needing to digitize all of those movies now. Look at the work you saved yourselves. :-) My mother had very similar sunglasses!

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    1. I knew there had to be a silver lining!

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  12. Hi Wendy... I'm old at blogging and genealogy... enjoyed your site... I keep wondering how I can post my BLOG NAME across my pictures..... a nice safeguard!
    Wonder what to google or how to learn the trick???

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  13. Nah, we didn't have a movie camera either but we have lots of photos to make up for the lack.

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    1. I'm glad for the photos we have, but I wish there were more.

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  14. Super post to pick out the cool "shades". Home movies were never a thing in my family either, though my dad bought dozens of cine cameras and later video cameras too. Unfortunately we never did anything exciting in motion that was really worth recording. And now the projector and VCR player are obsolete too, so what little videos my dad made are impossible for anyone to see! Photos and slides are more stable historic records.

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  15. You might not have had movies of your vacations but you certainly have some great memories with the holiday photos.

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  16. Now is the time to put all of those family memories together with the photos and get all family members to include theirs. A totally fascinating trip to be told from different points of view. It's always fun to find out how much reality varies from person to person.

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