Saturday, January 26, 2013

b&w stories: his favorite photo circa 1935

whenever i've looked at my dad's old photo album he's always smiled and said this photo is his favorite.  it really is way too adorable.  the bright eyes are so engaging.  dad's smile is so open and friendly while burt looks a bit hesitant.  i wonder if grandma made their clothes (she made quite a few for me as a kid).  is that mickey on dad's socks?  and aren't burt's little mary janes (i'm sure they must not have called boys' shoes mary janes) too much?

photos tell different stories to different people.  my dad lived the stories that his photos tell, so they inspire in him much different thoughts than they do for me.  in this one he was four and his brother burt was two.  the year was 1935, six years after the stock market crashed.  dad's older three siblings had all been born before the great depression (bob would have been about 16 at his time, nada 14, and dick maybe 13).  there was also a newborn, donnie, who was in the picture at the time, just not in this particular one.  dad says he and his sister nada were the primary caregivers for the two youngest boys.  after donnie (baby #6) was born, grandma suffered from post-partum depression (did they even know what that was back then?) and everything went to pot.  prior to the stock market crash (and the births of the last 3 kids), the family had lived comfortably.  grandma was raised by a wealthy aunt and uncle who had gotten some money from oil wells and lived in the city.  grandpa helped run the family business, a butcher's shop and grocery.  my dad says the depression hit everyone hard.  his family lost everything except the land they owned and most of that had to be sold off.  grandpa moved 16 miles away to the country.  he helped run a slaughterhouse there and in the summers ran a painting business, mostly stenciling on water towers and other high up places.  grandma eventually left the family and moved to florida (they were from indiana).  in april before he turned 16, dad went to live with her and work with his two older brothers after they came home from world war 2.  at just 15 he bought an $18 greyhound ticket with his own money and boarded the bus to florida alone.  he had saved the $18 binding hay bales over a couple summers.  he'd ride on the baler tying wire at a penny a bale.  he said they'd do close to a thousand bales a day.  before that, at around age 11, he'd started working in a hatchery next door.  the place was short staffed during the war, so he helped hatch the baby chicks.

all this from an old black and white photo of two sweet little boys . . .

uncle burt passed away last year.  when we found out he was in hospice care, i had all these old photos scanned into my computer and was able to send several to his case manager so she could print them out for him.  he and my dad had several nice conversations reminiscing over them.

1 comment:

  1. I love this Doris and your story. It gave me chills to read it. I don't know why, but it was touching and sad and happy all at the same time. Thanks for sharing. I think you should share more. I love stories like this so much.