November 18, 2010

Crossing the Country in 1932

Last Spring I was practically living in the darkroom. At one point, when I left for some food and non-chemical-air, I discovered a small package sent to me by my Morfar. Inside were several negatives from a trip that his mother - my great grandmother - had taken in 1932. At the time she was teaching in Oregon, and was invited to go to the National Teacher's Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She drove with the principal, Errol Rees, and his wife, Ardell. Two other teachers went with them. They drove all the way from Oregon to New Jersey in a Model A Ford - can you imagine?

These negatives had never been printed. though there was a list of negatives she had written that she would have liked to have printed along with some descriptions. Fortunately, she also wrote about the trip in a book about our family history that she put together.

I printed some of the negatives in the darkroom, but have also scanned in many of them. They fascinate me. This is one of the things that really draws me to photography in general - the ability to preserve moments in a way that allows future generations to share in them.

A picture says 1,000 words, of course. However, I found this short paragraph in her written account to be just as interesting -
"Before we left, I had my first permanent wave, so it would be easier to care for my hair. They used a machine with clamps over the rollers and when it was turned on the electricity made the clamps very hot. Of course, they didn't consider how fine my hair is and that overheating it would cause it to become frizzy. Three days later, not having been able to get a comb through my hair, I found a Beauty Parlor in Indiana. They spent three hours trying to comb and style it. Hair spray had not yet been invented."

She writes that this was the last living slave from the family that served the George Washington family.

Sailing around one afternoon on 'Harry Hackney's Famous Yacht'!

I knew my great-grandmother, who passed away in 2005. But these pictures help me to get to know her in a new way, to know more about her past and personality when she was closer to my age. It reminds me the importance of continually documenting my life, rather than waiting for the perfect moments.


Jay, the Dad said...

These are great. Makes you wonder what kind of camera was used. Whoever took these had a pretty good sense of composition, as well.

Brittney Erb said...

Those pictures are so fun! Thanks for sharing them :)

Care said...

That is amazing!! She definitely had an eye for photography... must run in your family. Love your blog!
-Care from SPN.

Auntie Em said...

I've been meaning to ask you - which one is your great-grandmother? These are really fun pictures. Thanks for sharing them! Makes me want to check out my old photos. I think they are just thrown in a box somewhere!