Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sepia Saturday: 2013 June 1

circa 1925, Sigfords Planting Dry Land Wheat
on the "Steele Place"

The photo prompt for this 179th Sepia Saturday includes birds, beasts and reptiles, or carts, wheels, ladders, barrels, or whatever offshoots that occur in the minds of Sepians.  At first I favored an owl photograph (and it's a pretty good story too), but my decision was made when I happened to flip this old family photograph.  I am not sure that it fits the prompt, but there was something about the tractors, wheels, barrels, and horses that grabbed my attention.

My grandfather, Frank Sigford (probably with his pipe clenched between his teeth)  was operating  the old tractor, which almost has a homemade look, at least in comparison to the "modern" 1924 tractor.  The wheels look a lot like the Fordson F tractor of that day, but certainly not the tanks mounted on what appears to be a-trailer-like extension.  The driver's seat is visible, even though my grandfather is standing at the steering wheel.  All of the working mechanisms were open and visible -- a dangerous rig to operate, what with all the gears, flywheels and belts.

The little girl trudging up the hill to the tractor is my mother, who was about five or six at the time.  My Aunt Loise, one of my twin aunts and was a senior at Klamath Union High School, was driving the horse-drawn seeder and disc.

Dry land farmers always seed their crops with the hope (and expectation) that Mother Nature sends enough rain to sprout the seeds and  weather warm enough for the seeds to get a good start.  Frank was no different from any other farmer,  but the planting shown in this picture was subjected to one of Klamath county's cold, dry spring.  This was Frank Sigford's last attempt at farming, and the dream of having his own farm.

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Check out the other Sepian offerings
on birds, beasts & reptiles -- or ladders, wheels, barrels, old carts.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sepia Saturday 178 # : 2013 May 25

 An intriguing prompt for this 178th Sepia Saturday. So many choices of faces speak silently to me over the years, each a tribute to a life lived long ago and giving me just a glimmer of the real person beyond the sepia. I toyed with photos of  grandfathers, Scots and German, with my earnest-eyed father at age six,  or my great great grandmother, who purportedly of Indian heritage, crossed the Oregon Trail in 1854. Finally, I settled on my first choice, a picture that has intrigued me from the moment I first found the tiny 1"x1" photo, loose and nearly lost in the fold of an old box of pictures.  The piercing dark eyes  of my grandmother Agnes Laura Sigford might indeed hypnotize a person as she seems to stare  into your soul.  My mother always said that her mother, this Agnes Laura, could stop her childhood misbehavior in its tracks from far  across any room  -- just with those eyes.  I have many pictures of this maternal grandmother of mine, but this picture of her in the cloche hat and the fur neck-piece intrigues me most of all  -- mysterious, imperious, regally aloof.

 Agnes Laura's  mother, my great-grandmother (Agnes Aurelia Brown Keyes), died shortly after she was born, so Agnes Laura grew up a child of the eastern Oregon hills.  She often told how she hated those stark, wind blown hills, but I believe that land tempered and tested her.  In a time and a place where books were scarce, she had a life long love affair with words and books. When she was seven years old,  her father gave her a book that she treasured,  The Children's Friend.  A decade later, when she was sent away to school,  she would find another treasure of words in her Elocution book.   Except for her Elocution book, I don't remember  my grandmother ever reading to me, or even talking with me about books and stories -- she was too busy to be "sitting around reading".  Nevertheless, this grandmother of mine somehow transmitted to me, my own love affair with words. Perhaps it was just the reverent way she allowed me to take a book out of the glass fronted bookcase.  Or maybe a faraway look in her eye when she opened her Elocution book..  Or the anthology of poetry that she gave to my mother and from which I read, night after night, as I did dishes -- book propped up in the windowsill.  This picture of my grandmother speaks to not as I remembered her, but in some magical way as I know her through words, books of stories and poems.  She touches my adult heart in way that never happened when I was a child.  And my heart of hearts tells me that this small photograph is how she would have liked to have lived and be remembered.

Agnes Laura Sigford (Keyes)
circa 1920s

The picture of Agnes Laura when she graduated from high school in Corvallis, Oregon,  far from her eastern Oregon home outside of the small town of Mitchell, reflected her high school dreams -- lovely white dress, flowers at her feet.  She was ready to step out and meet the world.    A few years later, this daughter of a well-to-do rancher left the Keyes ranch to marry Frank Sigford, a young man from Wisconsin who had joined his brothers out west to make their fortune.

However Lady fortune never laid her bounty on the couple.  The sweet picture of my grandmother and her first born, Irene, belied the grief of losing this baby Irene when she was not yet two years old.   Frank, her husband,  followed his dream of riches from dredging gold near Marysville, to the Pacific Northwest logging camps, to southern Oregon cattle ranches, and the subsistance on dry land farms in southern Oregon.

By the time Agnes Laura was in her mid forties, my grandmother had born seven children, five of which lived to adulthood and old age..  Her life was hard -- their lives were hard -- young children and shy on financial resources took their toll on her.  Dreams of living a life in which one talked about books, the lives, places and thoughts between the covers, fell by the wayside.  And she became the grandmother that I knew as a child-- an old woman, who plied us with homemade applesauce and bread fresh from her over.  Her only tie to the life she thought would be hers was the Elocution book which rested behind the homemade glass fronted bookcase.

Agnes Laura Keyes
High School Granduation, 1898
Agnes Laura (Keyes) Sigford and
baby Irene, 1904

Grandma Sigford (Agnes Laura Keyes) as I
remembered her when I was a child
1942, Grandma Sigford with my little sister 

These are the pictures of my grandmother on her life's journey.  As I look at this series of pictures of Agness Laura Keyes Sigford, I am held by her eyes -- to me her eyes were mesmerizing -- and sometimes a bit frightening..  And those eyes tell me to remember her as that slightly mysterious, imperious woman of her dreams. Yes, I am sure that is how she would like to be remembered.

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Synopsis: 2013 May 5th

Time,  a fleeting minute dashes by, only to be followed by a clock that ticks so slowly.  Did the days just fly-by in a wily-nily fashion, or did the 24s become immersed in muck that slowed the universe and I just thought time slipped on through the muddy trace?  Perhaps as the sun warms the earth to something more that 60 degrees, I will catch a single moment and say, "Hello, sweet moment, how is this day?"

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications