Friday, July 2, 2010

Somber Little Faces







As noted in that funny old-fashioned hand on the back of the photo, this is my grandma Eva by her sister Honey in the fancy stroller, their older brother Simon (from whom I get my middle name, Simone), so protective behind them.

What strikes me is the formality of the children. The white fur and black astrakhan, the bonnets, the embellished hat: in contrast to the modern babies I see, in cotton onesies and bare toes, these children are stiff and overdressed, their expressions serious, worried and a little melancholy.

In his grown-up life, though, Uncle Simon was a kind and garrulous man, generous and funny. My mother remembers him bringing a huge strong-smelling salami, in its casing, often when he came for dinner, and one memorable time, a whole bag of candy-store malted milk balls scooped and measured just for mom...

24 comments:

Pat said...

I can imagine their small faces breaking into grins the minute the camera disappears.

Megan said...

Honey looks to be on the verge, here.

But what a wealth of garments!

nick said...

They're very formally dressed, aren't they? Particularly Simon in the fancy hat and coat (they'd be seen as very feminine these days!). I think only Hanna looks melancholy, something's definitely upsetting her! And the stroller is amazing, I love the intricate wheels.

Brian Miller said...

such seriousness...wonder if those close made it home that clean...lol.

Leena said...

Lovely healthy children, manners were different of course and the happiness came from different things than nowadays.
Good weekend to you and yours!
Thank you for your comment on my site!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

what a marvelous portrait.

the expression on honey's face is soprecious.

dangerouswriter said...

A very formal and beautiful family portrait in that lovely sepia, Leah. I guess in these days it was not so common as it is for us to tale pics, hence the seriousness -almost solemnity-.

Leni.

Nancy said...

What a precious photo, all the more precious because of the writing on the back with names and birth dates. Simon looks like a little man, don't you think? When I look at these early photos I often wonder what the children thought when a black box with a person behind was pointed toward them. The two girls almost look like they're not sure what's going to happen next - worried, maybe. What a dear photograph! Thanks for sharing it.

L. D. Burgus said...

I am curious about the handwriting on the back. I like how certain sets lean left and others lean to the right. The photos are great and Simon sounded like an interesting person.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Where was this photo taken? Was this Brooklyn Heights?

Pat transplanted to MN said...

a gorgeous photo but yes they are serious looking, though he almost has a smirk, even baby is straight faced!

Suzanne said...

Beautiful photo, but Leah, shouldn't they be out playing or something!!!???

Betsy said...

They are in fancy outfits, aren't they! So sweet...and yes, they do look a little worried!

Crazyasa said...

Babies were dressed extravagantly then. I love that fathered hat your uncle has on. Thanks for sharing.

e said...

I think people dressed in their best for photos and these kids were probably told to be on their best behavior lest they soil their finery...It is an interesting contrast to the informality of today. Uncle Simon sounds like a fun guy...

I loved Hedgehog's writing!

Mrsupole said...

It is funny how times have changed and probably during those times due to the cost of a photo, everyone would dress up in their best clothes. I think we would have wanted to be dressed in our finest if we only had a few photos taken of us each year.

You are very lucky that someone wrote their names and birthdates on the back of the pic. I need to sit down and do that with my pics. Maybe stickers would be better because the writing seems to come through to the pic.

Thank you for sharing.

God bless.

John Hayes said...

They do look so very formal! It's a wonderful photo.

tony said...

Maybe The Worry Of Knowing Where The Next Salami's Gonna Come From.?Great Photo.

Barbara and Nancy said...

It's a great photo! What's an astrakhan? I assume it's part of their wonderful clothing. The writing on the back is so distinctive and creative.

Madame DeFarge said...

They do look so serious - do you see any resemblance in your baby photos? Such a marvellous photo though.

Alan Burnett said...

It is a great photograph, but I agree that there is a formality about it. But this may be because the photographic technology of the time meant that exposures were long and therefore set impressions had to be maintained. It is not until the new generation of cameras of the 1920s that expressions became much more free.

Karen ^..^ said...

With clothes that formal and binding, naturally little children feel the need to look and act formally as well. That expression, "clothes make the man" is so true. If you dress someone up, and admonish them not to get dirty, they will behave. But they won't be happy about it, LOL.

Princess said...

Great photo Leah.
the chidren were dressed up for a portrait as photographs were very expensive to have taken and developed. Very unlike today with snap happy digital generations.
I love the push chair and the attempted stoicity on the two older childrens faces.

My great grandmother once told me after asking why she was never smiling in a photo that, having a photo taken back then was a very formal thing and any sign of smiling or frivolity was frowned upon as a sign of un-refinement
or commonness. Regardles of the class you came from... And "one could not have ones children looking like common street urchins"...

Mark Sanderson said...

They're very grown up looking, which is quite unnerving. It's as though they are about to tell me to sort out my act, while perhaps offering me a cigarette.