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20060823

The family. Life is hard. (Book 2)


soozika says:
Oh dear, they sure do not look like happy campers. I think I also have a few scanned ones of those REALLY old photos of my forefathers (and 'foremothers' ) ... remember they sported quite stern gazes as well. What a difference to the photos that people snap these days...


Hi soozika.
True, they don't look like a very happy family. In these old photographs they do often look that way. In those days a photographer was a novelty, an expensive one. The photographer seems always to have caught them just after the children have been admonished to "hold still and quit fidgeting or you'll regret it when we get home." The stern expressions still linger on the adult's faces and the children are still playing innocent. Sometimes the children look downright fearful though, and the adults just look tired. It really was a hard life back then.

The youngest child clearly holds a feeling of fear and distrust, possibly for the photographer but probably of life itself. That aura is in all of them to some extent.

The three youngest are holding wreaths, probably the camera-man’s idea; the oldest child holds a hat. The young ones are wearing dresses of identical fabric but different patterns. Quite likely they are home-made by mother, as much of the clothing was then.


The oldest is wearing a dress she probably made herself. She has a scarf, a broach and a pendant, once belonging to mother. I would guess the children to be 14, 10, 8 and 6, or near that.

That would make the mother in her thirties. She looks 60 and very tired. And very determined. The firmly bitten lower lip is part of her expression now, her face nearly incapable of a smile. The child on the left matches her closely.

The man spends much of his time on horseback. His jacket is perhaps leather, as it has a bit of sheen. His hair appears to be trained with a hat or sombrero. His hands are gnarled and the knuckles swollen. He is not a banker or a merchant. Farming or ranching is his trade probably. He has worked hard. The girls help greatly but he has always wished he had a son or two to help with the heavy work.

The struggle has been relentless but the family prospers to a degree as photographers were expensive luxuries then. A family photograph was a symbol of success.

The photographer may have given up aspiring to create a work of art, settling for just “thanks”, a few positive responses and a living. But here he has at last, had someone study his work, appreciating his craft and ability.

On the back of the photo is written in an ancient penmanship: Grandpa & Grandma.
Then script in different ink and hand: Dad’s great grandparents.

That would mean it was at least four generations ago. Well over one hundred years.

The man in the picture could have been born as late as 1850 but probably earlier. In the photo with four children he is at least in his 30's placing the date about 1875 to 1880.





The family. Life is hard. (Book 2)
Originally uploaded by anyjazz65.

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