Friday, November 29, 2013

Sepia Saturday 205, 2013 November 30: 1930s Beach Attire: McPherson Aunties At The Beach

This Sepia Saturday's prompt brings us to the end of November or, so they say, has become known in much of the world, Movember. So it is time to celebrate bearded ladies, moustachioed men, trophies or silly swimming suits. 

No bearded ladies in my family and very few moustachioed men, however I do have a couple of pictures of 1930 beach attire, which might prove interesting for those that remember the 1930s or are fond of that era.

1930s Beach Attire:
McPherson Aunties At the Beach

In 1921 or so, my Aunt Bertha Clouse, the oldest of the McPherson aunties, arrived in Calipatria, California, with her husband Cecil and baby daughter Cleona.  The Clouse family had land in the area and quickly became involved in several other businesses.  Bertha and Cecil were part of  Calipatria's  young socialite set;   Cecil was involved in local politics and Bertha owned a fashionable dress shop.  The younger aunties were always impressed with Bertha's sense of style and the fact that her dress shop always had the latest designs -- for Calipatria, at least.

The two  pictures  below were taken between 1933 and 1935, judging by the age of Cleona who was born on 9 April 1920.  The beach might have been near San Diego, but I think it is more likely a beach on the Salton Sea which was a popular venue and relatively close to Calipatria.  In the first photo, I recognize my aunt Bertha (seated third from the left), cousin Cleona Clouse (the young girl perched on the abutment. Cleona was just a year younger than my mother), Bertha's cousin Jerry McPherson Rose(standing to the right of Cleona) and uncle Cecil Clouse(standing at the far right).  It is difficult to say with absolute certainty, but I believe the woman sitting to the left of Bertha is her sister Margie Bryant, my aunt Margie.  (Additional note:  A cousin of mine, contacted me to let me know that the woman seated at the far left, next to Margie, was her grandmother Helen Jansky, nee McPherson.)

1930s Beach Gathering in Southern California
Courtesy of JGHill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives
The photo has a great array of bathing fashions of the day.  The elegant, wide legged flowing pants were worn by all the stylish women when they went to the beach.  The pants, in bright colors and prints, evolved from pajamas that were worn by beach goers a few year before.   Jerry Rose and Bertha Clouse  both wore the popular flowing legged pants.  Jerry's pants were worn over her swim-suit, while Bertha's outfit was more of an ensemble which was very much in vogue at the time.  The big floppy hats as well as the wide hair bands and scarves were also popular.At the right, is a photo that was a typical outfit worn at the beach or pool side.

The swim suit worn by young Cleona was a style-setter of the day as her one-piece suit had shorter, more fitted legs, the top had cut outs which foretold the coming of the a two-piece bathing suit. Also the belted suit with it's striped top was very much a new style of the day.  Uncle Cecil Clouse's suit was also very fashionable with it's new shorter, more fitted trunks.  The two-piece swim suits for men were beginning to give way to just the shorter, fitted swim trunks, worn with or without a top.

1930s A Family Day at the Beach
Jerry Rose, Ray Rose, Bertha Clouse, Jack Bryant, Margie Bryant, Cleona Clouse
Courtesy of JGHill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives
The suit worn by my aunt Margie, in the above photo,  was more typical of  swim attire worn by women of the day, as the bathing suit had a skirt-look for modesty's sake.  A few years earlier some of the dress codes (or swim-suit wearing codes) required that suits for men and women not be shorter than 4 inches above the knee, and that the tops must end at least two inches below the genital region. The swim suit worn by Ray Rose shows the long top that was the norm a few years earlier, however by the 1930s many of the men's trunks were shorter and more fitted.

The picture at the left shows a variety of beach wear that was popular in the 1930s.  Magazines and doctors were telling of the benefits of exercise and sunshine, so folks on both sides of the Atlantic took to the beaches  --- and of course they had to be appropriately attired.

Below  is a 1929 photo of Gary Cooper in the newest of swimwear fashions.  The  swimsuit worn by Cooper looks very much like the one worn by the man sitting to the left of Cecil Clouse in the first photo of these beach festivities.
This just about brings to a close my ramblings about the 1930s beach attire of my McPherson aunties, friends and relatives --- except for one last thing.  Everytime I looked at the first photo, my eye went to the man kneeling at the lower left of the photo.  I don't know if he was a friend or stranger.  However to me, he almost has a time traveler look -- a man from the 21st century, wearing a wet suit and kneeling before a computer -- oblivious to the laughing folks enjoying their day at the beach.  What do you think?

Paddle on over to check out what's going on at Sepia Saturday

~ ~ 

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

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sepia Saturday 203, 2013 November 16; McPherson Grandparents and Door at Anderson

The Sepia Saturday prompt for this week has a familiar feel to it.  Have you ever noticed how many photographs are taken in doorways? It might have been the desire to search out a convenient frame, but more likely it was the need to go in search of natural light in order to tease those silver salts into life. Whatever the reason, a lot of old photographs feature doorways and this provides our theme for Sepia Saturday 203.  As usual for me, it is the memories that these prompts evoke -- and so it is the door  and the memories of my McPherson grandparents and the times I spent at that house are the fare for this post.

 The Door and the House in Anderson, California

 This is the house that I associate with my McPherson grandparents, Jabez Burns and Elizabeth Alfreda.  They lived in this little two bedroom house just outside of Anderson, California, for a little over ten years -- from about 1938 until 1948 or so.  During the time they lived in the house, I grew from a rambunctious three-year old to a sassy teenager of thirteen. Until my siblings and I rebelled at having to be away from our home on Christmas,   I spent nearly every Christmas until I was about twelve  going to, at, and coming home from the huge family gatherings at my McPherson grandparent's home. I had nine aunts and uncles, plus a gaggle of cousins, all of whom converged on this little house -- not only at Christmas, but any time there was a gathering of  more than two of the siblings. The walls reverberated with laughter, yelling and telling of stories of when the adults were young.  Oh, and not to forget the card games. Grandma's big round table was the center of a nearly non-stop poker game. My McPherson's were serious poker players and stopped only for meals. Pleading of children had no effect, only my grandmother's need to feed her beloved children interrupted the endless poker games --  I often thought that feeding of grandchildren was an afterthought.  My grandmother doted on her  ten children.

When we were older, my cousins, Nancy and Marilyn, and I also spent Easter vacation with my grandparents. However, I think the allure was more connected with my older cousin Tommy and his teenaged friends, than wanting to spend time with my grandparents.  We were also allowed, at that time, to sleep in the sleeping porch, which meant we were part of the "grown up" world, or so we thought.  The door in this photograph opened up into the screened sleeping porch.    My younger of the McPherson aunties, Verna, Betty and Olive Lorraine, had left home to make their own way in the world, but in their wake they left wondrous treasures, a dressing table with gold leaf trim around the a big mirror and side cabinents, hand mirrors, bright red lipsticks, high-heeled shoes, and dressing gowns.  So between the the teenage cousin and his friends, and the "leavings" of our glamours aunties, my cousins and I spent a couple of wonderful Easter vacations, which some what made up for the kid-boring Christmases we had to bear in our earlier years.

Back to the door, and pictures of folks  in the door way.  I had thought that there were scads of pictures of this door.  It is true that there were many pictures taken in doorways, but only a few of this most remembered door way.  Here are the few that I found:

In the photo on the right, the door is almost obliterated by my Aunt Margie (Marjorie Avery McPherson Bryant) and her dog -- or it may have been Grandpa's dog -- a favored dog no matter the owner. Margie was the youngest of the older grouping of siblings;  She was the second eldest daughter, and third eldest child.  She was a teenager when the family arrived in Calipatria, in southern California, from Wisconsin.  She never strayed to far from Calapatria and the Los Angeles area for the rest of her life.  Of course, she was a McPherson, so she was always at family get gatherings.  She would travel the length of California to be at a with her brothers and sisters, and seemingly never gave it a second thought.  I always thought of her as being very sophisticated, what with hats, gloves, and fancy dresses.  Such are the impressions of a child.

The picture to the left is of my grandparents and their youngest daughter, Olive Lorraine, standing in front of the door.  Olive Lorraine was the youngest of the ten children.  The photo was taken in the late 1940s and she and her husband were living in Vallejo.  She too never missed a family gathering.  She often made the nearly three hour drive to see her parents, and two to three times a year she made the five hour trek to our home in Klamath Falls.  But then, one must remember that as a toddling baby she made the trek from Wisconsin to southern California with her ever-traveling family, so it seems traveling is in the McPherson blood..

The last photo does not really show the door, but rather a blotchy faded photo of my grandfather relaxing just on the other side of  the door.  Even though the quality of the photo is not good, it is a favorite of mine as it brings back a host of memories of that wonderfully cool dreamy place that was a refuge from the scorching  heat of Anderson's summers.  And it is how I best remember my grandpa. I think he was one of those men that got better looking with age.

This ends my photos of the door -- not nearly as many as I had thought, so I am glad that my memories are not so limited.  Now check on the doors, doorways, and such of our fellow Sepians.

~ ~ 

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

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sepia Saturday 201, 2013 November 2: The House at Hungry Hollow

Late I am with this Sepia Saturday offering, but when I saw the photograph of this lovely grande dame, she stirred a memory within me -- of another grande dame, different place, different time, different circumstances, but a grande dame nonetheless.

The House at Hungry Hollow,
Near Hildebrand, Oregon

 The House at Hungry Hollow

Fifty years is a long time. Too long to still be missing the House at Hungry Hollow, I say.

 When I first saw the house, she was standing as a sentinel at the edge of the meadow, ringed by juniper, fir and pine encrusted hillsides. Her eyes on the world, those large old windows that reached into her soul had been assaulted and broken by guns of errant cowboys with nothing better to do – and then on a lark by snot-nosed school boys with rocks. Even so, elegant she stood. Her paint was past peeling and there were a few sags along the roof line, but her good strong lines stood the test of the past 100 years. She wore her weathered gabled lace like an outdated, dowager crown.

My heart skipped as I first caught sight of her – a kindred spirit she was. Way out here, she seemed lost – and she seemed to have suffered a deep despairing loss. I opened the kitchen door and entered. Yes, I could feel it. She had lost her family. Laughing children were no longer running up and down the steep pitched stairs; no one came bursting through the kitchen with the morning pails of warm milk and cold fingers and noses; no smells of hot coffee and home baked bread.

She reached out to me, and I stroked the intricate carving of the old kitchen door knob. We knew, she and I, that I had found my home. New windows, new paint inside and out would be her garb, but I knew that all she really wanted was love and laughter, squealing kids, quiet evening card games, and even periodic family squabbles. These things I gave to her.

I think that she laughed when I insisted that we put in a bathroom, tucked under the stairs. She probably loved the days of yesteryear, when every Saturday night the big tub was brought in and placed next to the wood stove. The sounds of laughter and protestations must have been very different from my new fangled way of showering. The old house creaked her laughter to see me run out to the pump house in my robe to crank the water pump to life --- and then race back so I could have a good brisk shower --- only to turn off the water and race out with robe clasped tight to turn the pump off so the pressure tank didn't blow through the roof.

When the snow piled high against her sides, and the way to the kitchen door from the barn was a narrow shoveled walkway, inside we were warm and toasty from the heat radiating from the wood stoves. The simple pleasures of making popcorn, fudge and hand-cranked ice cream brought a festivity to winter nights.

For three short, wonderful years, family, friends, and neighbors wound their way through the trees to the hollow. They came for spring branding, summer haying in the meadow, evening catfish fries, and Thanksgiving celebrations.

Then one day, I told her that we had to leave. The man was following his dream to be a
veterinarian and we were moving to another state. Even though I knew it was unlikely that anyone would ever live here again, I scrubbed her walls and windows; mopped and waxed her floors for the last time. I raked the yard – it couldn't rightly be called a lawn with the succession of the spring bummer lambs and calves butting their heads up to the kitchen door for warm milk and the tawny-coated coyotes slithering across the wild grasses in early morning's half-light. Then I sat on the front steps and told her how I would miss her for all of my days. The steps squeaked their sorrow. My heart rent. I drove away through a teary blur.

And so it is, fifty years later – she is long gone, I hear –  I yet yearn for that stately old house in the hollow.

~ ~ 

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

Now promenade on over to see the offerings of our fellow Sepians