Monday, February 13, 2017

Hearing the Voice

Other than a few remaining pictures—which may or may not resolve the remainder of our questions concerning the mystery photo album I found here in northern California—there is not much of a "big reveal" left to discuss. We've determined that the pictures were taken in County Cork, Ireland, and that they mostly have to do with the family of Mrs. John Pim Penrose Hawkes of Bride Park House. The dates were provided to us: the summer of 1936.

In the course of studying the family, we learned that a number of Mrs. Hawkes' in-laws (her husband had twelve siblings) had emigrated from Ireland. The most interesting of those settled in the New York area, most notably Thomas Gibbons Hawkes, founder of the cut glass manufacturer bearing his name. Mrs. Hawkes' own son, also named Penrose, eventually moved there and became a key figure in the company's success.

Mrs. Hawkes' only other child was a daughter who opted to remain in Ireland, marry and raise a family. It was she who turned out to be the one creating the photo album and sending it as a Christmas gift—but to whom?

This is the question that will take some quiet contemplation. Almost as if we are listening to her voice, we need to glean the clues from her album notes. For one thing, because she addresses her brother in the third person—"Penrose, looking very cross!"—it is unlikely that the album would be sent to him as a memento of his visit. And yet, it had to go to someone for whom the dig would have elicited the same response as his sister's.

Because the sender also addresses the other Alice in the album in the third person, it is unlikely that the album was meant as a gift for her—if, indeed, my guess is correct that that Alice is T. G. Hawkes' daughter, who made regular trips from New York (and later Canada) to Ireland.

I have already discussed another possibility—my initial thought that perhaps the album was meant for Penrose's wife. That, however, we've long dismissed, as Penrose and Marion weren't married until well over a year later.

The label on the photograph of the tea party guests threw me off, not including any relationship labels for the Hawkes family members in attendance. This made me think the album was not meant for a mutual family member. The more I think about it, though, perhaps Alice was merely cataloguing names at that point. Perhaps I shouldn't read so deeply into every action.

We'll take a look at a few more photographs in the next few days. These bring up some names we haven't yet considered—although whether they offer us any further clues, I can't say. Still, it would allow us to put some closure to the rest of the album, regardless of whether we ever solve the mystery of how a family photo album mailed from County Cork, Ireland, in 1936 ever ended up in California when none of the family had moved here.

Iris - doing "la grande dame"! - June 1936


  1. Alright, Jacqi, if you conclude that some poor ol' tourist found this lovely album in an antique shop in Ireland and then took it home to California where it was once again cast off, I'll be as angry as I was when Bobby Ewing's death turned out to be a dream.

    1. I promise, Wendy, to not do that to you...unless, of course, that turns out to be exactly what happened.


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