Friday, September 2, 2011

Baby Face

Baby Sarah, Thomas and Anna Clifford
Do you like your own baby pictures? I thought Google had an answer for everything, but when I posed that question to their magical search box, they let me down. I’ll have to go on mere intuition here: it’s my hunch that some do, some don’t.

In the Tully-and-related-friends collection I’ve been studying, however, there were evidently a lot of people who liked their children’s pictures enough to save them. For generations.

After all, what’s to see in a baby picture? A round face, bald head, nondescript near-smile, and hopefully wide-open trusting eyes—at least not the squalling, red-faced variety that announces nonverbally that his little highness is not pleased with how the photographic sitting is going.

On the other hand, there is quite a bit of fun to the sport of pulling out the prior generation’s baby pictures and seeing if that nose or forehead really does take after Uncle Elmer’s.

Out of the many baby pictures shared in the collection loaned to me, I selected this set to show with today’s post, not only because I can offer a before-and-after comparison, but because I already had found some genealogy research online for this family. In fact, I’ve emailed in the past with one member of this family as we’ve collectively worked on our Tully connections.

On the back of the first picture, original owner Edna Tully McCaughey wrote: “Mama’s sister Ellen Clifford, called Aunt Nell; three children Ann, Tom and baby Sarah, called Sadie.”

“Mama,” of course, was Sarah Swanton Tully. Her sister, Ellen, married an Irishman named Patrick J. Clifford. They raised their family near Chicago in the area just over the Indiana state border known as Valparaiso. Since there were only three children listed in this note, the photograph must have been taken some time between late 1886, the year baby Sadie was born, and August of 1890, when the next child, Grace Helen, was born.

In a way, it feels strange to gaze at baby pictures of children now long gone. The oldest child, born in 1883, succumbed to tuberculosis in 1923. Thomas, the young boy seated in the center of the picture, married, had a namesake son, and lived a long life, passing away in 1970.

Sarah (Sadie) Clifford Skibbie
And then there is baby Sadie. Though seeming to retain what might be called a baby face into her teen years, Sadie grew into a lovely young lady, becoming the bride of Albert T. Skibbie. Together, they raised a family of four daughters and a son. (Another son, Robert, died in infancy.)

Looking at the childhood pose of these three Cliffords reminds me that, whether you like your own baby pictures or not, someday someone may be showing them off to people who were not even born before it comes time for you to pass from the scene. So don’t be selfish and hide those pictures. Sport that cranky likeness or fuzzy head. Someday, other generations will be charmed to get to know a little more about you.

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