Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Men of the Eastwind #20

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Unknown sailor on USCGC Eastwind 1946 or 47  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com


When my dad was stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eastwind in 1946-47, he took pictures of his shipmates during tours to Thule, Greenland but didn’t provide names.  Maybe the family of these sailors will find my blog and share their story.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sepia Saturday: On Patrol

 Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.



This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt inspires thoughts about danger and safety. Every day parents entrust their children to bus drivers who might follow a car too closely or forget to check for sleeping students at the end of their run. At school, students pass through metal detectors and walk down halls monitored by uniformed guards. “Lock-down” is in everyone’s vocabulary. Since the massacres at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech, students’ safety in the classroom is no longer a given.

When I was a student in the 1950s-60s, chewing gum in class was a capital offense. The most dangerous thing we did was run in the halls. There was no uniformed guard to slow us down although maybe a teacher or the principal would call out a warning. Most often though our safety was in the hands of our own:  The Safety Patrol.

Safety Patrol Cradock Junior High 1956  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Cradock Junior High School 1955-56

I am not in this photo, but if the school photographer took pictures of the Safety Patrol six years later, then I was in that one. And I was likely smiling as proudly as the members of the 1956 squad.

The Safety Patrol at Cradock Junior High School was a volunteer position. We simply went to the office and signed up. If there was a slot open, we were in. I am not aware of any background check to ensure that we could actually model safe behavior.

Members of our Safety Patrol served several functions. One group stood inside and monitored the halls making sure no one ran. The other group was posted outside on the steps. That was my assignment. We made sure no one entered the building too early – we had to wait for the bell. In the afternoon, I’m not sure what we did. I suppose we held the door and made sure no one fell down the steps. Whether there was more prestige in being assigned inside or outside, I did not care. I actually liked standing on the top step where everyone could be in awe of my little white belt and shiny badge.

During my brief tenure with the Safety Patrol, I was more interested in wearing that belt than recognizing my role in a respected national program to promote safety. Until this week when the prompt sent me scrambling for a topic, I did not know that

  • The School Safety Patrol program was organized in 1920;
  • The American Automobile Association sponsors the Safety Patrol;
  • Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were patrol members, as were a number of astronauts, a Nobel Prize winner, governor, baseball player, and chief justice;
  • The belt has a name:  Sam Browne.
Proceed safely to Sepia Saturday for more stories and old photos.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Men of the Eastwind #19

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Unknown sailor on USCGC Eastwind 1946 or 47  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com

When my dad was stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eastwind in 1946-47, he took pictures of his shipmates during tours to Thule, Greenland but didn’t provide names.  Maybe the family of these sailors will find my blog and share their story.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sepia Saturday: Wall of Fame or Wall of Shame?

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.


This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is almost too easy:  damaged photos. Welcome to my world. How much time do you have? Several boxes and five photo albums are filled with damaged photos that keep me occupied for hours on end looking for signs of familiarity, searching for clues to family relationships, and gleaning insight into my family’s daily lives.

When I remodeled the bonus room over the garage this past winter, I wanted to make it my “Gene Cave” (although the hubster has tried to hijack it with a “Man Cave” big-screen TV and antler mounts). Bookshelves were decluttered not just to HOLD the old albums and books of research, but also to DISPLAY them artistically. They are fine, but the focal point of the room is one wall reserved for old photos of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

Family Wall 2015  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com

As expected, some of my favorite photos are also the most damaged. Wrinkles and creases, missing corners, mildew, stains and faded images can be repaired with software like Photoshop. To restore a photo means to repair those flaws in order to return it to its original appearance. I am no pro when it comes to Photoshop, but I can remove random spots and stains; a crease is easily erased as long as it doesn’t pass through anything intricate. My brother-in-law, on the other hand, is a champ, so I put him to work restoring several photos for “The Family Wall.”

However, there has been quite a bit of conversation in the genealogy world about the ethics of photo editing. In one camp are those who believe any alteration to a photo is wrong. They hold that wear and tear is part of the life of a photo. They doubt anyone’s ability to assume or know what the original even looked like. On the other side are those who want to preserve old photos as a way to remember and honor their ancestors without the distortions caused by stains and cracks. They argue that a photo with a “nice” appearance is easier to understand and enjoy.

I side with those who favor restoration. How could anyone not prefer the restored version of my lovely great-grandmother, Mary Sudie Rucker?

Mary Sudie Eppard Rucker edited http://jollettetc.blogspot.comMary Sudie Eppard Rucker original http://jollettetc.blogspot.com



















Maybe because I have created so many traditional scrapbooks in which I cropped photos either to highlight a subject or simply to make it fit on the page, I’m rather cavalier when it comes to manipulating old photos. I think nothing of editing out a lot of sky as I did with this photo of my great-grandfather Walter Davis.
Walter Davis original  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Walter Davis edited  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com




















Did my use of the cropping tool ruin the picture? Purists would say yes – just because we CAN do it doesn’t mean we SHOULD. However, I disagree. I did nothing to alter the essence of the photo since whoever took the picture (likely my grandaunt Violetta) was focusing on Walter, not the sky. Truth be told, I would feel no guilt editing out that pole for the sake of aesthetics, but I chose not to.

James Franklin Jollett edited  http://jollettetc.blogspot.comThis photo of my 2X great-grandfather James Franklin Jollett could not be enlarged to fit in a 5x7 frame without cutting off his feet. My brother-in-law deftly cloned some landscape in order to “stretch” the photo to fit. Did we go too far in altering the geography of the photo? I do not know what was REALLY there, and honestly, I do not care. Maybe I should, especially if there was a historically significant building or person in the background. Since I don’t know, I am comfortable assuming the background was just more of the same.

Julia Walsh Slade original  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
This photo of my paternal grandmother Julia Slade is just bad. The dress is totally blown-out without a sign of detail. Was it a print fabric? Lace? Were there pin-tucks on the bodice? With enough time, my brother-in-law could have fashioned quite a nice dress, but even my cavalier sensibilities said no to that. Dress notwithstanding, it is the best photo of my grandmother as a young woman so it made the Wall.

Julia Walsh Slade edited  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
In a seeming contradiction, I cannot be more pleased with a restoration project than my brother-in-law’s masterful manipulation of the one and only photo of my great-grandfather John Fleming Walsh. It is actually two little cardboard chips, each smaller than a dime.

John Fleming Walsh original  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com






He “created” a jacket based on the clues in the photo. He also straightened John Walsh’s head, probably out of necessity to align with the collar. Of all the restorations, this one probably pushes the boundaries, but I have no objections. The coat seems true to the original.


John Fleming Walsh edited  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com

Maybe I’m wishy washy. Maybe I simply rationalize in order to feel good about my decisions. But I hope I am faithful to some rather conservative standards for photo restoration:

  • Scan photos at a high resolution and save in TIFF format as a digital master.
  • Save any alterations including changing the color, cropping, or applying more sophisticated techniques such as removing stains and creases as JPEGs with unique names.
  • Stay true to the original as much as possible. That is, avoid the temptation to Photoshop something in or out that would significantly change the truth (for example, adding a person to a group shot, deleting a cigar from someone’s hand).
  • Consider how changes to a photo might change the story.
Please visit the Sepia Saturday “family wall” of bloggers, of whom none have been digitally altered.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Men of the Eastwind #18

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Unknown sailor on USCGC Eastwind 1946 or 47  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com


When my dad was stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eastwind in 1946-47, he took pictures of his shipmates during tours to Thule, Greenland but didn’t provide names.  Maybe the family of these sailors will find my blog and share their story.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sepia Saturday: Good Sport

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.



This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt suggests football, but it is not football season here yet. My grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker’s collection of photos which were passed down to me includes one of each of the sports in-season right now:  basketball and baseball.

Naval Supply Station Basketball Team 1920  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com

When I saw this photo postcard of a basketball team, I first thought Helen might have had more athletic genes in her than I had given her credit for. Then the faint white lettering at the bottom caught my attention. With magnifying glass in hand, I strained to read it under a lamp, by a window, by a different lamp and a different window. Tilting the photo to the side, to the back and forward helped. Finally the words appeared:
Naval Supply Station Basketball Team
Naval Base Hampton Roads VA April 19, 1920

According to the 1920 census for Portsmouth, Virginia, 17-year old Helen was a stenographer at the Navy Base. What was the Navy doing with a women’s basketball team and was Helen a member?

My search for Helen on the team came to an end when I fiddled enough with that list of names on the left of the photo to realize “Killeen” was not there. What had looked like “Killeen” turned out to be “Ripler” or “Miller” or maybe even something else.


Naval Supply Station Basketball Team 1920 http://jollettetc.blogspot.com

Left to Right
Mantinband
Moore, cptn
McPherson
Ripler ? Miller?
McConnell
Mary Howard
Mildred Metcalf
Humphries, Mgr
Mahler
? Coach
Forehand

Without more to go on, I cannot identify these members of the basketball team. There is a Mary Howard in the 1920 Portsmouth, Virginia census, living at home without occupation; however, coincidentally her sister Pauline was a typist at the Navy Base. Mildred Metcalf was listed in a couple city directories for 1922 and 1923 but alas, no mention of her occupation. A family of Mantinbands appears in those same directories but not in the census. So it occurs to me that perhaps these women were not residents but maybe Navy personnel, nurses maybe.

Obviously I can’t solve all the puzzles that old photos present, and this next one is no exception.

Baseball players about 1918-1920  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com


The time? Probably early 1920s at the latest based on the car and the dates on other photos in Helen’s albums.

The place? There is no sign of a stadium so maybe the players were local, maybe even one of the Navy’s intramural teams. The people in the background were dressed similar to people in another of Helen’s photos from a trip to either Richmond or Washington DC.


The people? No idea. Enlarging the patch on the uniform failed to produce a conclusive interpretation.  NH? N4? 1YH? 1Y4? M4? MH?

Any other ideas?




See who else is in the line-up at Sepia Saturday.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A to Z April Challenge: Z is for Zone


“We need to get together more often and not at a funeral.” How many times have you and a cousin said that? Funerals are much like a family reunion. You can learn a lot about a family just by looking at who showed up. Using my grandparents’ guest books and sympathy cards, I’ll be exploring “Who came to the funeral?

is for Zone, the neighborhood zone. When I was going through the cards from when my maternal grandfather died in 1963, I was especially touched by one in particular. The neighbors had all chipped in to send flowers to my grandmother.

My grandparents lived at the corner of Gillis and Frailey. The list of names on that card is the geography of Frailey Place.

From Google Maps street view
Left to Right: Davis, Louden, Harris behind the trees
On the “peninsula” between Frailey Place and Travis Place was the Louden family. They had a daughter much older than the majority of the kids on Frailey, but she would always speak if we were out in the street jumping rope. She would even take a turn holding one end for a game of High Water-Low Water.

Mildred Harris lived at the corner of Gillis and Travis, to the right of the Loudens’. Her yard was like a garden in the 1960s. She was a friend from church, so I’m not surprised to see her name included in the list of “Your Neighbors” which seems otherwise to be families along Frailey.

I believe the Bowens lived on Travis, probably next to either Mrs. Harris or the Loudens.

From Google Maps street view
Left to Right: Harris, Cummings, Foltz, Hornick
Across from my grandparents and right behind the Loudens were the Hornicks. They were accountants with an office in their home. With a paved driveway that looked like a divided highway, they had the best rollerskating surface in the neighborhood. The covered carport at the end of the driveway was perfect for twirling and skating in circles. The Hornicks never complained about our intrusion. Occasionally they closed the kitchen door, but that was the worst that ever happened to us kids except, of course, when they were actually parked in the carport. Bummer! The Hornicks always prepared my parents’ and grandparents’ taxes, and when their son took over the family business, he did the same for us until he retired a few years ago.

Next to the Hornicks was Mrs. Foltz and her son and daughter. Sonny was one of the few boys in this girl-heavy neighborhood. He often joined us in our games of tag, and he came to all the birthday parties. I’m not sure whatever happened to Mr. Foltz. He came and went until one day he went for good.

Mary Jollette Slade, Debbie Ellis, Donna Cummings  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Debbie, my sister Mary Jollette, Donna
Next to the Foltz house were Russ and Tess Cummings and their four kids. Donald and Barbara were teenagers, so I didn’t know them as well as I knew Katherine and Donna. Barbara and Betty Foltz next door were cheerleaders, and they practiced cheers out in the yard. They were the cool girls making everyone want to be a cheerleader. Katherine always had good paperdolls, but my favorite toy of hers was a cute pink metal kitchen set. Donna was at that funny age – a couple years too young for me and a couple years too old for my sister, but despite the difference in age, Donna was easy-going and always a good companion willing to play whatever part she was assigned in our many make-believe games.

The last house on that side of the street was the Harris house. What I remember most was playing in their ditch that ran parallel with Victory Boulevard. That ditch seemed deeper and wider in the 1960s than it does today. Still, what a dangerous place to play – where were our parents?

From Google Maps street view
Allen house was the only two-story on Frailey.
Next door to my grandparents was Earl and Betts Allen and their four kids. Big brother Dickie was too busy with Little League to bother with us girls. I played with Peggy, Mary, and Anne probably more than with any of the other kids on the block.
Anne, Mary, Peggy, and Me
in dress-ups

The card reminds me of what a fine time and place to grow up. While I don’t see the Frailey Place kids often, we are still Facebook friends. Too often we see each other at a funeral. One by one, we have buried all the parents now. Mr. Cummings was the last one, just a couple weeks ago.

We need to think of a more cheerful reason to get together now.

Zip, Zoom, or Zigzag over to the A to Z April Challenge Zone for Zillions of Zesty Zingers by Zealous Zanies before they are Zapped.  But the challenge is now over, so it’s time for me to catch some zzzzzzzzzzzz’s.

Now give me my Survivor Badge!


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.