Thursday, January 31, 2013

Taking Another Look


I found another picture. And I changed my mind. I don’t think it’s a picture of a mother; I think she’s a grandmother.

Remember the mystery family whose photograph I found the other day? The one with the label on the back—helpfully listing each child’s name and age…but never mentioning their surname?

I need to revisit that photo. And compare it with another one.

On the photo I posted on Sunday, I mentioned that the names listed were for siblings Peggy, Ricky and Brad. Naturally, I had presumed that the two adults in the picture with these children were their own parents.

young children with family

Now that I look back on that scene, it has me wondering. Would the dad of a seven year old have such a pronounced receding hairline? Granted, I went to college with a guy who started going bald when he was nineteen, but I think that’s unusual.

And the woman? Maybe I’m letting the hairstyles of the fifties fool me into thinking this was just a young mom with an old-fashioned hairdo. Maybe the case really was one of a grandmother with a then-currently-fashionable fifties style.

Context is everything. If I’m looking at a 1950s photo, I need to approach viewing it with 1950s eyes.

unidentified faces from family photographs
Here’s the photo I just found. Unless I’m mistaken, it is a snapshot of the same woman as was in the photograph I posted on Sunday. I dunno…could it be the same outfit, even? Maybe taken that very same day?

Taking a look at her appearance in this individual portrait, I suddenly don’t think “young mom.” I start sliding towards “proud Grandma.” Of course, I don’t know the history of hair coloring (even though I’m old enough to remember the tag line “Only her hairdresser knows for sure"). Then again, this is a black and white photograph, so maybe even the photography can fill in the blanks when it comes to hair color.

I once again wonder who this woman is. Although the photographs I’ve received—all jumbled into one box—were actually from two families, I tend to feel that this one might have come from Bill Bean’s collection, rather than his sister Leona’s. My tendency is to think this might be a relation of Bill’s first wife, Ellen—whom I’ve not yet introduced to you.

The difficulty in forging any link to Ellen’s family is that I know virtually nothing about her except her name, and what she looked like in family photos. I never met her. I don’t even know what her maiden name was. And I’m sure not having any luck finding such rudimentary facts in all the usual research places.

So Ellen will have to remain a mystery person, even though I’ll be posting some pictures that include her in the next few days.

And as long as Bill’s Ellen remains a mystery to me, this other woman—whether mom or grandma—will have to remain anonymous, too.

And you know how I just can’t abide mysteries…

12 comments:

  1. I agree -- same outfit, same woman. And she does indeed look more mature now that her arms are exposed.

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    1. Funny...that's exactly what first caught my eye, too, Wendy--her arms. I have to laugh at how that fifties hair style threw me off!

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  2. I agree - same woman. And the gentleman in the first photo looks to be more of grandfather age to me.

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    1. Thanks for the confirmation, Debi. I don't know how I missed it the first time. Don't you think they all look like they are watching a TV program, and the kids' mom or dad captured the moment on camera?

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  3. Hi Jacqi,
    Definitely same woman in both photos: shirt same little dash-ey pattern; glasses, face, etc.
    Some people I have in old photos I finally identified the same way you're going about it: comparing photos.
    BTW, I really appreciate your comments on my blog and your faithful following. I agree about the weather--but that was my Uncle Will. Hard time expressing his feelings or getting past work and giving advice, as you'll see in future letters. Hope I can keep this up. I waited too long to get started.

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    1. Linda, I felt like I was going cross-eyed, trying to see if those dashes were the same in both pictures--probably what comes of looking at photos of people I've never even met. Only when the subject becomes more familiar do I start seeing similarities in the small details.

      Your blog has always been an inspiration to me, and I definitely want to follow this new series of letters. It's funny about that compulsion to talk about the weather. I have relatives from that time period for whom that is actually important. It makes me wonder if that were a graduation requirement in finishing schools of that era! A good conversation doesn't seem to be complete to them without a thorough handling of the weather :)

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  4. You have my vote! Same woman, same day, and your hunch she is the grandmother is very true. She certainly looks too old to be the mother, especially in those days where most people had kids much younger than they do today. I guess it could be a great-aunt and uncle or family friends, but the certainly not the parents. Great detective work!

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    1. That's a good point about that generation's tendency to have their children earlier in life, Smadar. I'm guessing the grandmother might be sister to one of the in-laws in this Bean family. Only problem is: I can't proceed any further until I discover the maiden names of the in-laws!

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  5. Hi,
    It has to be the same women, same shirt, same glasses, same smile! I got new glasses, that sort of helps me see the photo better. lol!
    Jacqi, thanks for commenting on my blog. I'm doing really good, your sweet to ask. I am trying to get more family posted. As you can see from my index, I have a lot to talk about.
    Betty

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    1. Thanks for that confirmation, Betty! Even though the second picture is from a different perspective--and certainly different lighting--that smile sure does come through. Well...the glasses help complete the picture, too.

      Glad to hear you are doing well. Looking forward to reading more on all your blogs. I see I missed a post, somehow, the other day...

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  6. Grandma or favorite Aunt or good friend..the possibilities are all out there:)

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    1. It's those endless possibilities that have me worried...

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