Monday, April 25, 2011

A Walk Down Other People's Memory Lane

As I’ve noticed several vintage bloggers point out, it can be really fun looking through old photographs of family members and ‘real life' people (as opposed to celebrities). It’s fascinating (and sometimes humorous) to see pieces of life from so long ago and useful to get an idea as to what regular folks looked and dressed like on a day-to-day basis. It’s just as frustrating to look at studio portraits of celebrities from the past and try (and fail) to achieve their look as it is unrealistic to expect similar looks to the styled and Photoshopped stars of today’s popular culture.

But mostly, I like leafing through abandoned photo bins at antique shops and the pages of my family albums to get chuckles out of awkward 60s hairdos and stoic Victorian era portraits, and to marvel at the fact that these people, some of them of my blood, lived through these eras and saw times I am forever trying to connect with and understand. And to them, it was just regular life, but many of them would live long enough to see so many milestones of history that would change their idea of regular – the internet, the Civil Rights movement, WWII, the Red Scare, the cell phone, food preservatives, gender-integrated gym classes (something my grandma was shocked to learn – that I did gym class with the boys. Well, to be honest, I wish I hadn’t, because they were awfully rude in Frisbee and made me lurk on the edges of the field for fear of getting Frisbee-d in the face and stuck with a permanent dent in my forehead). 

Anyways, the point to this: below I’ve posted some old pictures of my family and their friends. They were all scanned by my mom months ago, as she was assembling a family history project. Hopefully you enjoy them – they’re not that great, as most of my mom’s family settled in North Dakota and Minnesota and were farmers, so they weren’t exactly glamorous. But when Gracie uploads some of her family pictures soon, that’ll be a treat – her family was living in New York City during WWII!

My grandma Joyce when she was 14 in 1944. She had naturally curly hair, which of course I couldn't have had the good hair-fortune to inherit.

My mom as a wee tot.

I'm pretty sure this is Laverne, my great-grandma.

A picture I really like of Amy and her husband. She's some great-great relative of mine.

My great-great grandma Harrington and her brother Charles. He's rather dashing in his uniform, isn't he? I wonder what that uniform was for... I'm no good at identifying that kind of apparel.

Great-great grandma Harrington, great-grandma Laverne, and my grandma's sister Linda. I just feel so frustrated when I look at this picture because IF ONLY my family had been uber-economical and saved more of their clothing! That bag! The jabot! THOSE HATS!!

Not very good quality, but this is great-grandma Laverne, probably in the mid 1920s.

Probably my favorite. Luella, my great-grandma's sister. I think she and this picture (and her hair, if only I could do that!) are so pretty. 

My grandma Joyce in high school (she's the farthest to the left).
And last but not least.... the great beauty of the family!
Just kidding. Obviously. Although I'm not kidding about this fellow being family, he actually is. William Sowden is the name. I'm not sure how we're related, but we are, he just goes wayyy back, as evidenced by the quality of this picture and style of his beard.

Till next time!

- Emily


  1. these are fantastic. thanks for sharing! I am curious about Charles's uniform as well. Hard to first thought was "Boer War," but really not an expert on clothing pre 1920s (and know even less about military stuff). Laverne was quite the looker!

  2. Thanks!
    Boer War, thats an idea! I'll have to remember to ask my mom about it next time I visit.
    - Emily

  3. These were great to look at! And that last one gave me the giggles...Beautiful women with beauiful names!

    Xx Claire

  4. Thanks Claire! I know, Mr. Sowden is a bit funny looking, but when I was little the picture just scared me!
    - Emily

  5. love these old photos! I've been posting some on my blog too ; )