Monday, June 30, 2008

The Sawmill

Why a story about a sawmill on a family history site?
The answer is that most of the immigrants came over here during the early 1900's and were just beginning to get established in their new country when disaster struck - The Great Depression. This story gives you some idea, in a humorous way, how serious this time in our nation truly was.
This is a little story my dad told me and I'm not sure who the characters were - he never would discuss that? Who knows? It could have been a family member?
During the great depression sawmills were common places of work for whole communities. From the cutting of the timber through the sawmill operation to the distribution of the product was a very important facet of the community.
This was one of the few enterprises that was still operational.
This particular small mountain sawmill had about a dozen workers. They brought their lunches in personally marked pails and left them in a temporary shed while they worked.
A new man had been hired to the crew but his financial situation was so bad that he could not afford to bring any lunch. On his second day he was so hungry that he went to the shed before the other men on the crew came for lunch. He picked up several lunch pails and finally grabbed the heaviest one and ran into the woods and hid to enjoy his newly claimed “pot luck” lunch.
He was surprised to find a claw hammer and three black walnuts in the pail!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Unknown Broidioi(?) Family

I hope that this photo is not too small for you to get the points I am trying to make. I wish I knew who these people are?
This portrait was on my cousin Pascal’s family history website with hopes that someone could identify the family. He knew that they were part of our family, but who were they?
They are a nice looking family. You can easily see that the parents show pride in their family. The lady looks a bit tired but why wouldn’t she? Six kids that close together would probably cause some tiredness.
Notice the discipline of everyone in the portrait. Even the baby is participating. How in the world did they achieve that?
It stands out to me that two of the kids have little uniform type outfits on that are basically the same. The white baggy socks on the one child seem out of place? I’m sure there is a story there. Did he get his other ones dirty and have to wear his play socks for the portrait? Reckon maybe there was a family crisis prior to the portrait over these baggy white socks? These are the type things that fascinate me.
All eyes are on the camera. This is simply amazing! Is it possible that this family has posed for many other pictures? Normal class people would not be posing regularly – could they possibly be of the elite class?
Everyone visible in this portrait has clean shoes. The immigrant’s shoes in my “Faded Portrait” poem were worn and run down in appearance. They were wearing nice clothes but their shoes looked like every day work shoes. This family probably didn’t have work shoes?
The man shows dignity and class in his suit. His head is back and he looks proud. This tells me that he probably normally wears dresses this way. He shows security in every way. This whole family looks as if they do this all the time?
Again, at the time of this photo there were two World Wars in this family’s future. I wonder what happened to each family member? Sadly, their stories we will never know. Before the sadness of this thought overcomes me I realize that they all are gone now.
But for an instant in time they are together – peering into the lens of a camera for us to wonder about this many years later.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Henri Broidioi Wedding Portrait

I haven’t studied photographic techniques of the early 1900’s but I really believe that photographers must have attempted to have everyone in the portrait have the same expression. I call it the early 1900’s scowl. Look at today’s photos. Some smiling others looking solemn. Could you imagine someone in 1910 slipping and putting their hand behind some ones head in the “rabbit ears” sign? I have never seen that nor do I think that I ever will.
This is a happy scene but you have to realize that these same people will not be asked to survive one World War but two. I wonder what happened to each? Knowing that they were in the center of both.- did they all survive?
Less seriously, don’t you just love those hats? Is it possible that someone in the group might have operated a men’s hat shop?
Also, I see several neat mustaches in the group. Grandpa Broidioi wore one. In his own humor he called it his “soup strainer.” I remember that he always had a dignity about him even when he was in his overalls. I will always have that image in my mind.
I think that we have arrived at the fact that most of these macho guys are grandpa’s family – 9 brothers and 2 sisters. I believe that the top row plus the groom are probably his brothers. His two sisters are harder to pick out but 2 of these young ladies are most probably his sisters.
I enjoy looking for stories in each face and each pair of eyes. Even with the “1900’s scowl” their eyes and expressions show a window into their lives.
I enjoy studying and imagining each ones situation in life from their appearance and composure as the shutter opened. If a picture is worth 1000 words then I want to write them down. I enjoy pondering and questioning each face while trying to figure out what frame of mind each was in.
Have you ever been part of a group photo? Were you focusing on the camera when it snapped? If you are like me your mind may have been many hours and many miles away. You may have one expression on your face but have another one in your heart. That’s what I enjoy looking for in old portraits.
Try it for yourself on a group picture that you are a part of. Remember what you were thinking at the time. Then see if you can pick up expressions on yourself and others in the group. We all put on facades for photo shoots. That is a fact.
Many would consider this analysis a waste of time but I feel that the past is our link to the future.
We must treasure the past. If not, then why have family history sites?