Photo ops at the turn of the 20th Century…

by Alden Cole on August 8, 2015 · 0 comments

“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” – Malcolm Stevenson Forbes (19 Aug 1919 – 24 Feb 1990)

FullPages5:9:10:11@72At left, a scan of four pages from a small soft-bound photo album put together in approximately 1905 by Nellie Alice Kemp [Freeman] (7 Feb 1882 – 27 Jul 1966), a teacher who was an aunt to my aunt Dorothy May Tenney [Cole](3 May 1910 – 19 Mar 1990). Below, a series of enlargements from
5.WomanonStairsCRAdjWPthese four pages plus a few cropped-in images in order to take a better look at the faces. Each of the eleven pages that constitute the album measures 5-1/4″ x 7″, with each albumen print measuring 2-1/4″ x 3″. The only annotations in white ink inside indicate a few place names in the Nova Scotia
5.1TwoWomenCRWPBay of Fundy area. None of the individuals portrayed in these early ‘virtual’ snapshots are named – except one ‘Myrtle’ standing in front of a shoreline – nor are dates given. None of the faces look familiar to my eye, which has gotten knowledgeable about my
5.1TwoWomenCR2WPfamily’s physiognomy by studying numerous images lately. There’s a good chance I have no traceable relationship to any of those portrayed since they were growing up in Nova Scotia, a good distance away from my roots in Dayton, Maine.
9.1WPThanks to this disconnect, these early ‘snapshots’ become ‘art’ instead of ‘just family history’ for me; they reveal a timeless quality. They’re a reminder that people really did wear clothes like that at one time, even for a picnic. Plus there’s the beguiling humanity of mugging
9.2WPfor the camera; the obvious fact that candid as well as posed photo ops of this nature were popular, then as now… Indeed We Are Family!

“Good questions outrank easy answers.”
– Paul Samuelson (15 May 1915 – 13 Dec 2009)

Below, friend Heinz Sauk-Schubert who lives in Portsmouth NH sent me his impressions evoked by these antique images from yesteryear.

9.4WP“It’s surprising to me that everyone, dressed in their finery, had no compunction sitting on grass, lying and rolling in it, leaning against trees or rocks, and gingerly stepping, not always knowing exactly into what. Ordinary people appear to have had a pervasive kind of
9.3WPtact that perhaps touched every aspect of their lives. And the images of family picnics speak of a geniality that contemporary picnic images rarely convey. Perhaps it is a matter of distance in time. Perhaps I project a kind of nostalgia onto the image that then blends with my perception
10CRWPof it. While that may be partly true, I doubt it explains all that I read into the images and the world they present. I mean, how can one look at the picnic images and not think of Edouard Manet’s painting Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe? The
10CR2WPpicnic in the woods painting that ushered in Impressionism?”

11.1LineupCRWP“The examined life is no picnic.” – Robert Fulghum (6/4/1937- )

11.1LineupCR2WP“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald (24 Sep 1896 – 21 Dec 1940)



“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
– Maya Angelou (4 Apr 1938 – 28 May 2014)

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: