Monday, March 19, 2018
Having collected several photographs from one antique store in northern California, all bearing some form of the inscription, "To Thirza," I thought my task, in returning these abandoned photographs to appreciative family members, would be fairly easy. Surely, I thought, these would all be relatives somehow linked to the Thirza Cole whose photograph I also had rescued.
The more I tried to make the connection, though, the less likely it seemed that these photograph subjects were linked to each other—even remotely. With that, I was left with the 1920s photograph of Thirza Cole, an 1880s vintage likeness of Ralph Pollock, and a turn-of-the-century baby picture of Mildred Rigg.
But no connection.
There is, however, one more photograph listing Thirza's name—this time, with more than just her name, for the reverse of the baby picture contains a brief note. Better yet, it includes a full name.
For today, I'll introduce you to this baby, as well as a small detail I just noticed from the front of the photograph. Since it involves a convoluted explanation, I won't share how I figured out the connection just yet. We'll begin with that tomorrow.
As it turns out, the name on the back isn't exactly the baby's name, but just knowing the name came in handy, once I started researching what could be found about Thirza. The inscription served, later on, to confirm I was on the right track as I thrashed about, unsure of which of several research avenues to pursue.
And that small detail I just noticed? It was the imprint of the studio where the photograph was taken, but even that, at first, wouldn't have been much help to me. It was such a tiny mark as to make it difficult to read. In fact, even now, I'm not sure that it says, "F. L. Ray," but that is not what matters. The real clue is what is listed underneath the nearly illegible studio name: the studio's location in Salida.
If you think that clinches the matter, guess again. The city was given, all right, but not the state. My first thought was that it referred to a community in northern California, close to my own home. As I found out in my research, though, there is also a small town by that name in Colorado—a tip which turns out to be an encouraging lead.
So, for now, here's baby Louise. Tomorrow, we'll begin the tale of how the names on the reverse of this picture helped secure certain puzzle pieces in the right place in Thirza's bigger picture.
Above: Was that name affixed to the top of the baby picture really Louise? The handwriting made me question my own eyes. Thankfully, there was an accompanying note on the back to confirm it really was baby Louise. And the studio imprint? Salida? Nearly obliterated by the stain in the bottom right corner. Photograph currently in possession of the author.