Friday, January 6, 2012

Sepia Saturday: The January Edition


This wintery shot of my Dad and my Uncle Wick was taken in Baltimore, MD in the late '30s.  Don't you love the pose?  Most of the photos in our albums from this era are carefully arranged portraits, either professionally taken for special events, or brownie camera shots taken at home with six or seven relatives shoulder to shoulder, smiling dutifully.  But this one is fun and playful and there's a gleam in my Dad's eye that makes me wonder if the photographer didn't get creamed with that snowball.

 I love the vintage quality of this photo, too, and how the snow has yellowed with age.  My Dad's brown curls peeking out from under his hood remind me of a couple of my curly-headed sons, and I wonder if my Dad was much like them at this age.  I'm guessing he was. In the fundamentals I expect boys are much the same now as they ever were -- but goodness how the trappings have changed!

Check out the 1930s snow day gear, for instance.  Young boys still wore knickers -- which couldn't have been any too cozy -- but I'm guessing my Dad's stripey socks are wool: warm, but I bet they were itchy.  The coat and little Uncle Wick's snow suit were probably made of wool, too, and though they were likely good and warm, I bet they were a bugger when they got wet.  Heavy and smelly.  Bet it took forever for them to dry, too!  Do you suppose they had a place near a woodstove or furnace that they hung their wet woolen hats and mittens and coats to dry?  I love the vintage "hominess" of  that image.  I can picture my Dad reading a book on the floor in front of the radio, listening to Jack Benny while his coat and scarf dry by the wood stove...  Everything sepia-toned and smelling like apple pie...
=sigh= The past is so romantic when it's lived in a scrapbook...
But, in reality?  Seriously --  I wouldn't want to go back in time, if for no other reason than I wouldn't want to wear all that wool.  No way.  I like our super light and waterproof synthetic coats, our nice warm microfiber scarves, and underarmor.  If it gets dirty, throw it in the washer; if it gets wet, throw it in the dryer.  Quick and easy. And you don't smell like a wet sheep when you come in after playing in the snow.

And this I say with the conviction of a mother whose little sons (7 y.o. Gabe and 6 y.o. William) went sledding down the muddy driveway into a big snowmelt puddle yesterday afternoon.

So, yes...  I guess we're pretty spoiled, but I'm convinced it's a good kind of spoiling, these modern textiles.  I like to be warm and dry on a cold day; I like my children to be warm and dry on a cold day.  And I would not like to have to wash my uncle's little wool snowsuit.  I love looking at the vintage photos, but wool coats  really only work well if you're outside playing in sepia-toned snow.

(No, not that kind of sepia-toned snow!)

Lots of great Sepia Saturday posts here.

10 comments:

Little Nell said...

Great picture Lisa. I like the way you imagine the home life back then. I have to agree with you about wet wool too. We’re very lucky to livein a modern world with washing machines and driers - but why do we pine nostalgically for the good old days?

suzy said...

Heehee!
I love the old fashioned clothing... to look at... :)
I'm sure it was far from comfortable to wear or take care of. Being a knitter I have some idea of the ammount of time and energy that goes into making woollen clothes too! I remember the heart break when my girls got undarnable holes in the socks I'd spent a summer and autumn knitting them!
My mother still talks about the itching knitted swim suit her mother made her! She said she nearly sunk it was so heavy in the water :)

Wishing you and yours a beautiful New Year Lisa!!!

Postcardy said...

I always hated the snowsuits and later slacks my mother made me were under my dress in the winter. The funny thing is that young people don't seem to get as cold as older ones. Now it takes a lot more to keep me warm then it did when I was young.

GrandmaK said...

A wonderful treasure!! I ove a picture of my dad when he was a wee lad of about 4 years old still in a "dress." Imagine the thrill of advancing to knickers!!! Have a grand weekend and as always thanx for the memories!!!!! Cathy

Bob Scotney said...

My memory must be failing. I can't remember what I wore in the late 1930s. But I still remember the humiliated of a wollen bathing suit that I could not keep up when wet.
Taking photographs of snowballers remains a hazard to this day.

imagespast said...

Lovely photo, but I have to agree about modern materials. No way would I like to sit on a warm bus full of wet school blazers again :-) Jo

Karen S. said...

Oh that snowball throwing photo is too cute! You are right about the scratchy wool items, but they are warm, a bit to stiff too but when it's cold outside...! ;)

Tattered and Lost said...

This shot would make a wonderful stepping off point for an old magazine cover illustration.

Wendy said...

Wonderful photo! The little guy looks like the younger brother in The Christmas Story -- remember how he falls in the snow and can't get up?

Alan Burnett said...

You are quite right about how the ageing process has created sepia snow (no not that kind of sepia snow) A great Sepia Saturday post (as always).