Sepia Saturday 278: Photos in Need of Care and Attention

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The focus for this week’s project is on images that are past their best or in need of a little care and attention.

It’s so good to be back at Sepia Saturday. I’ve missed not only sharing — but also viewing — the images of times past that are the heart and soul of this blog. I’ve been learning more about blogging, brushing up on my documentation techniques, learning new software, viewing webinars, general housekeeping that comes with blogging. But I simply must make time to participate in this venture. Most of the entries (mine included) are genealogy-related. But I really enjoy viewing and sharing images that are “outside of the box” so to speak. They’re the images that afford genealogists a break from the mundane pedigrees, family group sheets, biologies, etc. It’s just a welcome end to a week that may have included intense research, reading, studying, etc.

I see I missed a good one last week. But, true to the Sepia Saturday scheme of things, being the opportunist that I am, I think I can segue what could’ve been an SS 277 entry into SS 278. Watch and learn. Yes, I had to strike that as well because I know y’all do it too. I think I’ll limit my images to two portraits and two snapshots.

This is a faded portrait of my Daddy, William Emmet PALMER, in his high school lettermen's (football) sweater. Circa 1930, Gary, Indiana.  Original in possession of author.

This is a faded portrait of my Daddy, William Emmet PALMER, in his high school lettermen’s (football) sweater. Circa 1930, Gary, Indiana. Original in possession of author.

I’ll go ahead and lead off with the aforementioned missed entry. It’s a faded portrait of my Daddy, William Emmet PALMER, in his high school lettermen’s (football) sweater. Because I graduated from his alma mater (Roosevelt High School &
Indiana) , I know the “R” on the front of the sweater was gold. So, even though the photograph is sepia, in my mind’s eye, it’s grey and gold. Long live the black and gold. Panther Pride!!

This is a composite of my mother's and my graduation photos.  We both graduated from Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana in 1931 and 1967 respectively.

This is a composite of my mother’s and my graduation photos. We both graduated from Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana in 1931 and 1967 respectively.

My second portrait is actually a two-fer because I’ve created a collage of my Mom’s and my graduation photos. Three corners of hers are missing. I think they got folded and ultimately became separated from the photo. The fading of my portrait began lonnnnng ago. In fact I recall being disappointed when I opened the envelope from the photographer. It was developed much lighter than I was expecting. I was looking for a full-color photo. Despite his development process, it has stood the test of time for the most part.

For the snapshots — wow there are so many in need of a little care and attention. Okay, I’ll go with this snapshot of my Mom, Floretta Violet MABLE, and all her siblings circa 1970 (based on my uncles’ afro hairstyles). The composition was the eight of them in the same positions they were in for a photo they took as children (circa 1935). I came up with that year because my mother (the oldest, born in 1915) was a teen or young adult in the photo and my youngest uncle (born circa 1933) was a toddler in knee pants. It’s so cute. I’ll have to get it from Jay. No doubt you’ll recognize that it’s a Polaroid. We all have more than a fair share of specimens from this genre of photography.

This is a snapshot of my Mom, Floretta Violet MABLE, and all her siblings circa 1970.    The composition was the eight of them in the same positions they were in for a photo they took as children (circa 1935)  The ninth person is a grandchild that raised with them as a sibling.  The original is in possession of my cousin, Jay Evans of Gary.

This is a snapshot of my Mom, Floretta Violet MABLE, and all her siblings circa 1960. The composition was the eight of them in the same positions they were in for a photo they took as children (circa 1935) The ninth person is a grandchild that raised with them as a sibling. The original is in possession of my cousin, Jay Evans of Gary.

Oh, and I also wanted to mention that there are some generous members of facebook groups who share their talents by offering to restore photos for other members. One randomly calls for photos in need of restoration then posts before and after images of his work. It’s really quite remarkable. I haven’t availed myself of his generosity yet; but I have a few potential projects for him.

Welp! That’s my offering for this week’s theme. Any genealogist worth his salt is bound to have similar misfortunes among his photo archives. I’ll be watching for yours. And don’t be surprised if some of your older posts get revived by my comments. I have no shame; and will take some time to go back and see what I’ve missed. Have a great week!

See other Sepians’ worse-for-wear photos.

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In Remembrance of Violet Marie PALMER

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Created in loving memory of my older sister, Violet Marie PALMER.  (1937 - 1938)

Created in loving memory of my older sister, Violet Marie PALMER. (1937 – 1938)

On Wednesday, I utilized the “Ask a Librarian” link on the Lake County Public Library website to inquire about locating my older sister’s obituary. Violet Marie PALMER was the first-born of my siblings. We always knew that she died at the age of 11 months from pneumonia — two years before the 1940 birth of my second oldest sibling, Billy.  So none of us had the privilege of knowing her. 

During those days doctors made house calls; and her doctor delayed his visit to Violet because he had tickets to a Golden Gloves event. I never asked if he came afterwards.  I remember his name and I share it when recounting the event to my family members; but I will not disclose it here. The important thing is that I have also remembered his name in prayer.

It’s unfortunate that the only evidence of Violet’s existence is encapsulated in the 3″ x 3″ patch of text displayed below and the only known portrait of her. But I am truly grateful to now have at least this obituary to add to: (1) a copy of the portrait, that I’m waiting to lay eyes on again when my relative scans it and sends it to me; (2) an increasingly foggy memory of her headstone, at Fern Oaks Cemetery, which includes a small photo of the portrait embedded under glass in the upper-right corner. No. (3) is just something somebody said that’s stuck in my head. I think this was an extended relative or family friend: “People said that baby was just too pretty to live.” She was a pretty baby; but I’ve always regarded this statement as someone’s honest attempt at sharing a sentiment. There are just some things I remember from childhood. I was truly astonished with how quickly my issue was resolved. After my futile searches of newspaper indexes for Violet’s obituary, the LCPL responded to my inquiry within a matter of a few hours with a scan of it. I immediately thanked Sharon for her awesome detective work and for responding to my inquiry so quickly. Even though the text is clearly legible now, I’ve transcribed it for all posterity.

Violet Marie PALMER obituary, Gary Post Tribune, Gary, Indiana, 21 September 1938, page 6, column 2.  Courtesy of Lake County Public Library.

Violet Marie PALMER obituary, Gary Post Tribune, Gary, Indiana, 21 September 1938, page 6, column 2. Courtesy of Lake County Public Library.

Violet Marie Palmer, age 11 months, died last night in her home at 1933 Adams as a result of pneumonia. She is survived by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Palmer. Funeral services will be held in St. Paul’s Baptist church at 11 o’clock tomorrow morning with Rev. W. F. Lovelace officiating. Burial will be in Fern Oaks cemetery. The body was taken to Cresswell’s funeral home.

My first reaction to reading the obituary was that I distinctly remember living at the address listed as my family’s residence: 1933 Adams — especially from the age of about 3 years. So, from 1936 (the year they were married) until about 1953 (my last memory of living in this building) 1933 Adams was my family’s home. This was an apartment building that housed three families. I remember there was a basement with an exterior entrance. I don’t recall who lived there. Our family lived on the main floor; and Mrs. Lila Allen (my Godmother, affectionately called “IE”) lived on the second floor. I plan to include “IE” in the family history aspect of my genealogy because she played an integral part in my early upbringing.

  • I even have photos of my parents standing in front of 1933 and one of my second sister (Patricia Anne PALMER) and me playing (I was riding my tricycle) on the sidewalk outside.
  • I remember IE standing on the sidewalk with me and coaxing me to run and meet my mother one day as she returned home from work.
  • I have a photo of my paternal grandfather (Will E. PALMER) sitting outside of 1933.  The copy in my possession needs to be cleaned up.
  • I remember one of my Dad’s co-workers threatening to cut my ears off if I was nursing a bottle the next time he came over. (I ran and hid behind one of my parents — don’t remember if it was Momma or Daddy.)

So, you see, I do know the building.

The next thing I focused on was the church where the funeral was held. It was directly across the street. This dark brick structure looms in the backdrop of my memories of 19th & Adams. My only memories of St. Paul are attending Vacation Bible School in the summers. Rev. L.K. Jackson was the pastor; but I also remember there was a blind preacher named Rev. Russell who presided over the VBS. During our late adult years, my brother, Rev. Charles PALMER, told me we once belonged to St. Paul. That explains why Violet’s funeral was held there.  That building has been demolished. 1933 was one of the last buildings on that block to meet that fate. St. Paul is now located on 23rd & Grant.

Find A Grave, image (Fern Oaks Cemetery : accessed 2 May 2015), entrance gate post, Griffith, Lake County, Indiana; the accompanying photograph by  Warrick L. Barnett  is materially informative, and does not reference a specific headstone.

Find A Grave, image (Fern Oaks Cemetery : accessed 2 May 2015), entrance gate post, Griffith, Lake County, Indiana; the accompanying photograph by Warrick L. Barnett is materially informative, and does not reference a specific headstone.

The mortician, Cresswell’s Funeral Home, closed its doors about 30 years ago. I did make a few phone calls in an effort to locate the records. Despite learning that funeral homes are only required by law to maintain records for seven (7) years, I’m still going to make a concentrated effort to find out what happened to Cresswell’s records. Now that I have a date of death, my death certificate inquiry will be mailed on Monday; and I’ll also draft a follow-up letter to Fern Oaks to back up the phone message I left for them on Thursday.

With the genealogical tasks underway, and after I got over the excitement of finally seeing the details of my parents’ accounts in print, I began to notice the articles surrounding the obituary. They were not all obituaries. There were two others. But directly above Violet’s was a short write-up about a matinee dance. To the direct left was an article about a club’s activities. To the right was an ad for a pimple ointment and another ad below it that turned out to be an earlier location of the butcher that Momma purchased meats from. What was this? I didn’t think a whole lot about it. But I did return to the LCPL site to ask the Librarian if I could get a scan of the entire page — first, so I could document the obituary for my blog post; and secondly, because I just love nostalgia.

At this juncture, I have to thank Kathy Wienrank and all the other members of the Indiana Genealogy! Just Ask! facebook group. Were it not for their experience and willingness to help, I would not have found Violet. What an awesome group. Thanks guys!

As in all genealogy research, from every new development three additional questions will emerge. The librarian’s reply included a brief description of the page where Violet’s obituary was located. It was on Page 6 of the Wednesday, September 21, 1938 edition of The Gary Post Tribune. My first observation was that it was not in the Obituary section. It was in column 2 of the page and the section entitled, “News of Gary’s Negro Citizens.” Was there an obituary section on this date? If yes, why were Negroes excluded from it? If no, when was the first run of an obituary column? And was it always a part of the Classified section as it is today? Just below the header and byline, there’s a phone number to call in items to be included. I’m thankful to whoever called Violet’s obituary in.

There’s all kinds of stuff on Page 6. To be continued . . .

Sepia Saturday: Valentine’s Day

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My Sepia Saturday post for this week is about the couple who demonstrated everything I needed to know about love and marriage. My boyfriends had to be assertive yet still need my input. The man I married reminded me so much of my father . . . at first — stern, loving, soft-spoken. Anyway, it was my mother’s example I followed to care for him during his lengthy illness.

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He called her, Sugar — sometimes, Momma. She called him, Daddy. I heard other adults address my parents as, Bill and Floretta (pronounced, “Florita”) or Flo. But I can’t recall one time when they called one another by their names around us. I wonder if it was to demonstrate to us what we were to call them?

My Daddy was a steelworker — working “swing shifts” at US Steel. When he worked midnights, we had to be extra quiet because he slept during the day. He wore plaid shirts and, for some reason, a belt and suspenders. And, as the photo shows — that man could wear a hat! Dobbs felt in the winter, straw in the summer. I even have a high school photo of him with a lettermen’s sweater and a “Big Apple” cocked ever so slightly to one side. Yeah, my Daddy was a “Dapper Dan.”

Momma was a school secretary, then a medical transcriptionist. She still managed to put full meals on the table every evening and listen to our bedtime prayers. Then we were up and out the next morning; and she always looked like she’d just stepped out of a McCall’s magazine ad. From an early age, I’ve been constantly reminded about how much I favor her. Our facial resemblance is unbelievable. And she was neat, petite, and sweeter than sweet.

While we found our parents’ spontaneous lip or cheek pecks entertaining, we were also being taught how to appropriately display affection. And there was nothing weird about it. They just loved one another and weren’t ashamed to show it. They both served as usher and choir member, respectively, at St. Timothy Community Church. And they brought us up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. My parents were married for 34 years before my father’s untimely death at age 59. I was only 20 years old. Momma remained with us for 20 years after; and did not remarry.

We used to love leafing though those photo albums with the heavy black pages and their high school yearbook. That’s where these pictures are from. I don’t have the albums — just a few pictures from them. I, obviously, have much more to share about my parents. But I tried to keep the focus on “love” for this week’s post. When I get into their individual bios, you’ll get to know them better. Happy Valentine’s Day!

See how other Sepians have been inspired.

See how other Sepians have been inspired.