Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Captain Dick

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows a man speaking into a large megaphone. Four years ago, I was ahead of myself AND Sepia Saturday when I mistook a megaphone for a telescope. In response to the prompt photo which featured a telescope, I used this photo:
Ordnance Office Pig Point
Ordnance Office Pig Point
Oops. Anyway, I told the story of how my grandaunt Helen’s husband Herbert Parker had been a clerk at the Pig Point Ordnance Office in Suffolk, Virginia during World War I. Since then I have learned a little more about Uncle Herbert and his family.

Sometime ago, my dad’s sister gave me a suitcase full of pictures, letters, and cards that she saved when she cleaned out our Aunt Helen Killeen Parker’s home. Some of those letters were love letters full of news of the day’s events, always ending tenderly hoping to hear back soon. In one letter, Aunt Helen mentioned “Captain Dick”:
Captain Dick said he wanted me to be around real early in the
morning so I could feed the dogs. I told him I would be there.

There is a photo of Captain Dick too in Aunt Helen’s scrapbook.

Ephraim Champion Parker

But who was he?

Helen’s mother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh even knew Captain Dick. In a letter to Helen, she wrote:
.... Sonny was to do something at the league and Ebby
was going for him. hope Miss May is feeling well also
Cpt. Dick Herbert & yourself. Tate joins me in
fondest love to all from Mother
When I asked my aunt whether she had ever heard Aunt Helen talk about a “Captain Dick,” she recalled hearing that name but could not remember who he was.

Then the genealogy fairy showed up. A distant relative sent an old photo to my aunt thinking she was the proper person to have it.  

Ephraim Champion Parker and Herbert

On the back was written “Ephraim Dick Parker and Herbert.” That is when my aunt remembered - Aunt Helen always called her father-in-law “Captain Dick.” Why? We have no idea. Herbert’s father wasn’t even named Richard. He was Ephraim Champion Parker.

Herbert was the only child born to “Captain Dick” and his wife Margaret Williams. They lived at 1616 Atlanta Avenue. That is where Herbert brought his bride in 1927. He and Helen lived downstairs; Herbert’s parents lived upstairs. That arrangement probably worked well for Helen since Herbert traveled frequently in his job with the railroad.

Herbert Webb Parker
Herbert Parker in his home office

Even though Herbert was living in my lifetime, I have no memory of him. However, I have vivid memories of his office. It was a pine paneled room just off the living room. French doors were always open, but I imagine Herbert might have closed them when he was concentrating on work. 

Econolite train motion lamp
Lamps like this sell on eBay
anywhere from $35-$350.

On a side table stood an Econolite train motion lamp. It always seemed like a toy to me, but knowing Herbert used to work for the railroad makes the lamp make sense to me now.

Having seen the photo identifying Captain Dick and Herbert as a little boy, I believe the identity of this previously unknown boy in this photo is coming through loud and clear. 

Possibly Herbert Parker about 1910

It looks like Herbert to me.

To see what others made of this week’s prompt, please follow the links at Sepia Saturday. I SAID PLEASE GO TO SEPIA SATURDAY!

© 2018, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Yay for you finding who Captain Dick was...and I love the lamp with the train...some little motor made the outside shade go around, right? Yes, it would be nice to have more Sepia interest these days.

  2. I love the idea of the "Genealogy Fairy" floating around our homes and occasionally granting us little wishes that reveal some hidden object that might be the answer to a riddle. Or maybe not.

    My mom, now 87, may be that fairy as she spends hours and hours every week sifting through family stuff. She's always discovering a long lost piece of ephemera squirreled away in some forgotten box. I imagine families without pack-rats have very dull lives.

  3. Nicknames stir interest & Mystery (perhaps that's the purpose of them?).
    I am reminded of an old (and quite famous,in Blues Circles)Louisiana singer called "Champion Jack Dupree" his wikipedia page who lived a couple of miles from me when I was a lad in Yorkshire ,England (itself a strange & unlikely story..but true!)
    He got the name "Champion" because ,when young, he was a boxer.
    Maybe your "Captain" was named for sporting reasons also?

  4. Nicknames can be a real puzzle. My Uncle Jim's name was not James. It was Ira Edwin. He was named after his father (my grandfather) Ira Edwin the 1st. My grandmother didn't like the name Ira, said he looked like a 'Jim', and forever after called him and their son "Jim". :)

  5. How wonderful to have that crucial photo waft your way to help you unravel the Captain Dick mystery! Love the photo of Herbert's office. Pine paneling was common in summer camps among my paternal relatives, so it strikes a chord. That is also an excellent train lamp. I seem to remember seeing one of these in my youth.

  6. I love the genealogy fairy - could you send her my way, please?