Sunday, July 8, 2012

Here’s Looking At Us

Here they all are, for all the world seeming to be looking at us, waiting expectantly for our response. Each set of eyes implores, “You remember me, don’t you?”

And yet, unfortunately, I don’t. I want to scream out in frustration, “If you wanted someone to remember you, why didn’t you make sure your name was written somewhere on that card?”

Obviously, someone wanted to remember these people—this splendid season of life, these special moments to cherish. This card has been kept in our family for just over one hundred years. That must indicate it holds one hundred years’ worth of meaning.

For someone.

But not for me.

How I wish it were for me. I struggle to piece the clues together: the relationships, the relative ages, even the identity of their pets, for crying out loud. I notice all the little details—like the fact that someone decided to slice nearly a half inch off the side of this postcard, for instance. Or the big leaf protruding from the tropical-looking plant obscured by the gentleman standing to the far right (we’ll see that plant—and human—again in a photo tomorrow).

I play around with the names and dates in my Tully family constellation. After all, the matriarch of the family, recently-widowed Catherine Malloy Tully, would by 1911 have been sixty three years of age—just the right age to play the matriarch sitting in the front row of this photograph. Her daughter Agnes, the violinist, the performer, sitting so regally in her feminine outfit with the petite-waisted fashion of such bygone eras, could easily have played the part of the ingénue as the center of attention in this vignette.

From there, though, the comparisons fall apart. The couple to the far right—could they be the ones with the baby in the beach picture?—don’t appear to be the right ages to represent Mary Monica Tully and her husband of the last nine years, Austin McGonagle. Even the comparative ratio of men to women does not match that of my Chicago Tully family; patriarch John Tully—now gone these four years—had brothers, it is true, and a few nephews, too, but not enough to field this lineup of men on the back row. Catherine, herself, was an only child—no help there in contributing to such a robust family structure.

With these considerations, I despair even of ascertaining whether this photograph contains the likeness of Agnes Tully Stevens, herself.

And yet, I would so like to know.


  1. The other dog is in this photo too..I think that the three men on the left are related someway maybe brothers?
    Possibly Agnes and Catherine..the ages seem to fit..when do you think the photo was taken 1905? That would be my guess. The one fellow wears a different a conductor of a streetcar?
    I get a holiday/retreat feeling of the that a boardwalk and a lake in the background?
    yes more questions than answers..but a lovely old photo:)

  2. Austin had a brother Thomas Charles McGonagle who had (at least 3 sons) ... perhaps the photo has a bunch of the McGonagle clan in it...

    Also, Agnes hubby William Henry might be in this - not married yet, but perhaps seiously dating and chaperoned (back in the day) What sort of family had he?

  3. I'm trying to figure out which of these fellows (if any) is the balding swimmer guy. The only two possibilities in my mind are the two in the center-back with the soft caddy/driving like hats - leaning towards the one left of and next to the long faced woman.


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