Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sepia Saturday 216: Suits and Hats

When I first saw the prompt for this Sepia Saturday, I immediately thought of one of the photos from my grandfather's albums from Bishops College School.  Something about this photo has amused me since the first time I saw it.

Prefects - 15

Bishops College School (BCS) was a prep school for boys only in Lennoxville, Quebec back when my grandfather and some of his brothers attended.  Today it is co-ed having amalgamated with King's Hall Compton, a girls' school, in the 70s.

This photo was taken by my grandfather, George Washington Smith, who was born on February 22, 1898.  He was a student in 1915 when he took this picture which includes his brother Herb (second from left) when he took this picture captioned in his album, "Prefects 15."

What I think I find amusing about this photo is that these four boys don't look like prefects to me; they look like they are having a very serious clandestine meeting, like the heads of four families, or their consiglieri.  Maybe it's the hats.  As was pointed out in the post for this week's prompts, hats did not survive as a fashion choice in the same way that suits have and these days we see them most often in period movies, or at Sepia Saturday.

Thank you for stopping by and giving me an excuse to share one of my favorite old photos.  Happy Sepia Saturday!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sepia Saturday - Musical Christmas Card

I haven't posted to Sepia Saturday in a long time, but while I was checking out some of the other posts, I suddenly remembered my grandparents' Christmas Card featuring my mother playing the piano and couldn't let the opportunity to participate pass me by.

I don't have the year for this Christmas card but it must be mid-late 1940s.  The only thing I remember about it is that my mother often comments that her hands were not in proper playing position when the photo was taken.

Happy Sepia Saturday!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014

Funeral Card Friday - Mathilda A Anderson

This past Saturday we drove out to see my stepmother for a "birthday" post-holiday dinner.  She had mentioned a few weeks ago that she had found a bag of loose photos (oh, the horror) of me at about age 2 or 3.  I couldn't imagine where they had come from.  As an only child of an avid photographer, volumes of photos of my childhood grace my bookshelves.  I just couldn't imagine my father leaving loose photos in a plastic bag all these years.

On the way home we stopped for coffee and I couldn't keep myself from reaching in the back seat for the bag and looking through it.  I was amazed at what I found.  Yes, there were pictures of me but there were also pictures of my dad as a baby that I had never seen before, even one of him as a newborn!  There were also graduation pictures and Christmas pictures and pictures of dad with his Lionel trains.  A treasure trove and the best Christmas gift I could imagine!

It will take me some time to get these photos all scanned and organized but for a start, here is the funeral card of dad's maternal grandmother, Mathilda A Anderson, as well as a photo from the bag, taken in the summer of 1937.

Mathilda A Anderson Funeral Card - Inside
Mathilda A Anderson  Funeral Card - Cover

Mathilda A Anderson Funeral Card - Back Cover

Mathilda A Anderson and Stephen D Matthews - Summer 1937

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Society Saturday - The Greater Pittston Historical Society

It has been over a year since I have posted to this blog, but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about my genealogy or even doing the odd bit of research when I could.

After two years out of work I found a part-time job in December 2011.  Ten months later I was promoted and while it was absolutely a blessing, my new position leaves me with little time or energy for research, blog-hopping or post writing.

Last week I was finally able to take vacation and spend two days on a family history trip to Basking Ridge, NJ and Pittston and West Pittston, PA.  It was a fun and educational trip and I had much more success than I had any right to expect considering my lack of preparation.  The success of my trip was due in large part to Ron Faraday, President of the Greater Pittston Historical Society.

Without Ron, I never would have been able to locate the Matthews plot at Pittston Cemetery and the graves of my great-grandparents, Arthur William and Ada Hobbs Matthews.

I had read in a few places online that Pittston Cemetery had fallen into horrible disrepair and it also seemed that no one was managing the property at all.  I really wanted to find the plot and since I wanted to visit Pittston anyway and the old family home was only a couple of blocks away, I was willing to search for it.  I pictured us with plenty of water and bug spray, wearing old sneakers, long sleeves and our socks pulled over our jeans to protect from bigger critters, searching for hours but ultimately emerging victorious with photos of the headstones of the five family members buried in the plot...I had no idea.

About a month before our trip I stumbled on the website and Facebook page of the Greater Pittston Historical Society and discovered that they were in the middle of two weekends of a massive cleanup of Pittston Cemetery.  Before and after photos tell you just what an incredible undertaking it was and what a wonderful job they all did.  I found an email address on the Facebook page and wrote to the society to thank them and all the volunteers for their hard work and ask about burial records.

My reply came from Ron Faraday, the president of the society, with a telephone number for himself and one for the caretaker. A couple of emails later and he had had the caretaker show him the plot and then he met me at the cemetery on a weekday afternoon to show me the graves.

Pittston Cemetery is huge, folks, absolutely huge.  I would never have found the family plot on my own.  If we had decided to start at the entrance and work our way forward, even between three of us, we never would have had time to get to the Matthews plot.

Ron also put us on to the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society which it just so happens is open  on Thursdays (the second day of our trip), where I was able to find some fun information on my great-grandfather.

So, this is my shout out to Ron Faraday and the Greater Pittston Historical Society.  If you are fortunate enough to be in need of their assistance in your search, I can tell you they will do anything they can to help you.

Hopefully this will be one of many posts about our trip and I will be back soon.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - Sundays at the Matthews House

This week's post is the fifth installment of my paternal grandfather's personal story and family history.  Here he wrote about a typical Sunday in the Matthews house.   He gives us a wonderful peek into a world that no longer exists; Buster Brown collars, button shoes and taxis entered between the rear wheels.

Sundays were busy days at 13 Nafus Street.  After breakfast my father sat in a large rocking-chair in our kitchen, with one of my mother's aprons tied around his neck, and was shaved by whatever son was around (not me).  Week days he was shaved at the barber shop on his way uptown where he kept his own shaving mug, lettered in gold "Arthur Matthews".  My job was to shine his shoes, for which he paid me 25 cents.  Usually there would be a visitor, a hobo [sic], being fed breakfast by "the girl" as our cook-maid was known.  Usually the girl was a recent arrival from Wales or England who frequently vented her homesickness for her native land by indulging in weeping spells.  The visitor was there by virtue of my father's rule that no person be turned away from the Matthews house hungry.  John Tobin, the only [African-American] in Pittston, who made a living carting rubbish to the city dump, was a regular visitor.

After the shave and the shoe-shine came preparation for Church, wiggling into that Buster Brown collar and getting into button shoes, and helping my mother get her's buttoned.  Then to Church uptown where I sat with my Mother as my Father would be leading the choir.  After church there was Sunday School.  And there was no chance of avoiding these two services unless you were sick in bed.

A one o'clock dinner was followed by visiting, either family or Welsh friends at our house or trips via street car up or down the valley to homes of Welsh families.  Except for the trolley ride these trips were a bore to me as usually our hosts were older people with no youngsters and under the Sunday rule I was supposed to be seen but not heard.  Visits to Fred's and Lillian's homes in West Pittston were more enjoyable because they had children of my age and the trips were made by taxi--one of the earliest models which was entered via a door between the rear wheels!

Sunday night supper always meant cold meats and potatoe [sic] cakes followed by a three-layer cake and home-canned fruits.  Saturday night supper in the winter months always included oysters in some form: stewed, fried or scalloped, made from freshly shucked oysters which my father purchased at the local fish market and brought home in a pail.

Seldom was there a night without the sound of music.  Welsh friends brought their fiddles and always their voices, and Bess and Charles sang duets.  And on choir practice night my father was apt frequently to bring the entire choir home with him and expect my mother to feed them.

I love his description of family time.  Growing up as an only child on Long Island with my cousins in New England and Canada, I am green with envy when I read Grandpa's descriptions of family time.

In next week's installment my Boppa (a childhood mispronunciation of mine that stuck) tells us about his household chores and how he earned money as a child.

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