Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

If You Want to Get a Head...............



There’s an old advertising slogan from the forties; “If you want to get ahead get a hat” which I have adopted to suit my post this week. It would take more than a hat to magically make a head re-appear in my photograph I think.  Sepia Saturday’s photo prompt this week is a group photograph of ladies and gentlemen wearing big hats, but all appear to have heads attached to them. However, the photograph itself seems to have sustained some damage. This isn’t immediately obvious and it appears at first as though we are viewing the group from the other side of a not very well maintained hedge, but which is scattered millefiori-style with tiny flowers. On closer examination it can be seen that the ‘hedge’ is in fact the damaged portion of the picture. I therefore offer my own group photograph, also damaged, though probably deliberately at the hands of my great aunt Sarah, known as Cis (b.1885). Some of you will remember her as the lady in the shop doorway in 'Open All Hours'.
When my brother first showed me the photograph, I assumed that someone’s face had been removed to fit into a locket. My grandmother wore a locket with the portraits of her brothers, removed from a larger picture and I suggested that this was the case here. My brother, who has researched this side of the family, says that the reason appears to be very different.
The lady in the middle of the back row is my Great-grandmother Lydia. She was a blacksmith’s daughter, who later entered service, before marrying my Great-grandfather, Richard, a stonemason. Unfortunately he was to die at the age of 46 leaving her a widow with a family to support, She did this by taking in lodgers. And here we come to the mysterious photograph. Lydia had taken in three boarders, including her half-brother Samuel, a baker, who is standing to Lydia’s left. The picture was taken around 1901, presumably in the back yard of the house, by a travelling photographer. On the front row are an unknown lodger, my Great-aunt Cis, her brother (my paternal Grandfather) Sam, with his dog, and another brother Dick. So who is the owner of the headless torso, standing on the other side of Lydia? This is her son Jack, who would go on to serve in the Royal Engineers during the First World War. We know he didn’t marry the lady he lived with for many years because she was already married when they met, and perhaps the fact that they were cohabiting was the source of family friction. We will probably never know the truth, but apparently Jack remained the black sheep of the family and was cut out of the picture by Cis. We could speculate, and our fertile imaginations produce an endless list of reasons why this rift occurred in the family, but all those who knew the truth are long since dead. So let’s leave Jack as an enigma and hope that he was at least able to find happiness with his new family.
For more group photos or big hats, with or without heads beneath them, take a look at Sepia Saturday.




This is my hundredth Blogpost on Hanging on My Word - Let the trumpets sound!!!!

26 comments:

  1. I'm always interested in photos with bits cut out of them. Sometimes people did it when they didn't like the way they looked in the photo. Think I'd be doing that all the time these days - thank goodness for digital photos! :)

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  2. Interesting post. Would be great to know the answer to all these family mysteries!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  3. Hi Nell, what a story! Very interesting.

    Thanks for the post,

    Kathy M.

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  4. Here's to the next 100 posts! As usual a very interesting photograph and an intriguing mystery behind this one.

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  5. Great story and great photograph too.

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  6. always enjoy reading your posts and love how you manage to find such personal connections.
    Claire

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  7. You have a great starting point for a novel, here. Fascinating tale.

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  8. "Cis", as in scissors?!?
    My mom was like that, beheading herself
    as she was usually unhappy with the way she looked in photographs...
    :D~
    HUGZ

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  9. Oh, that's a wonderful story. And you provide a perfect example of interpreting an image prompt - you could never really do that if words were used as prompts. Torn and intentionally damaged photographs are always fascinating, always full of stories.

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  10. Ticklebear's comment is too clever! As is your blogpost. What a fun and funny connection to the prompt photo. Congrats on #100.

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  11. My grandmother cut out faces from her photos too or X'ed over them. Considering how precious and rare photos were in those days, you can only imagine the depth of
    the feelings. Very interesting family story and I love the slogan - likely the work of some "Mad Men" at the turn of the century.

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  12. Nice dog, he/she fits in well. The eyes of Cis and Sam are quite similar.

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  13. Wonderful story Nell, love the family drama! Our ancestors were just full of their little scandals and family secrets, weren't they? Absolutely love the dog, his face is wonderful!

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  14. He reminds me of Eddie in 'Frazier'. If only he could talk to us and tell us what really happened!

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  15. I'm confused (generally the case), was Jack the son of Lydia, or Cis? Who was he having the affair with? I'm all in a muddle, but it's a great story, and the cut-out really makes it all the more fascinating (if I could just get everyone straight).

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  16. I'm off to buy a new hat! :) Because, I want to get ahead too, in so many ways...Ha ha! What a delightful story, and thanks for the link to your other post!

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  17. I recently got a book of photos from the life of the artist Frida Kahlo. There was a whole chapter with damaged and cut up photos. I guess every family has these types of photos in their archives.
    What an interesting story you have conjured up.
    Nancy

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  18. Because of the missing piece, I almost missed the cute dog. It seems like Jack became the center of attention when his head was removed.

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  19. It would make the story complete if the dog was a Jack Russell.

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  20. I'll echo Postcardy's comment, I wonder if they ever made up. It reminded me of my friend who broke up with her boyfriend and in a rage of unrequited love tore his picture out of all the photographs. But true love finds a way and after some years they eventually got back together and in fact have been for a long time now, she has kept those damaged photos hidden, maybe they too will be discovered by an ancestor.

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  21. Nice interpretation of the prompt! And Jack's story is intriguing.

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  22. How interesting, poor jack losing his head in the picture, i hope he had a happy life too Scarlett x

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  23. What a fabulous insight into your ancestry. I've a feeling Jack did okay for himself!

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  24. Congrats on your 100 post, looking forward to reading many many more from you. The photo reminds me of the photos of myself, I make sure to remove my head on them all.

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  25. Kudos to your centennial! A great photo and story. Sadly so many families histories like this are lost because no one wrote them down.

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  26. I've seen a few such mutilated family photos, and always find them intriguing, even if the story behind the excision is long gone. Thanks for sharing yours.

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