Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sepia Saturday 4/10/10

If it’s Saturday, it must be Sepia, right? & as I mentioned in last week’s post—when I failed to read the directions & sort of hosted a Sepia Saturday of one—my mother gave me three more family photo albums during my recent trip east, so I’m well stocked on old photos for some time.

I also wrote a bit about my dad’s time in the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, during the Depression & New Deal years—dad was a lifelong Democrat & Roosevelt admirer, proving that contrary to contemporary wisdom, it is possible to be a blue collar worker, veteran & outdoor sportsman & still hold some very liberal opinions.

But then, dad was a complicated & private man—he had the clearsightedness to see how capitalism stacks the deck against the worker, yet he also held some very benighted opinions, particularly when it came to racial issues & women’s issues. & there’s much about him I don’t know—even my mother only has a limited knowledge of his childhood, which was spent in an impoverished & apparently quite dysfunctional family. Then, too, there were glimpses that we only just caught—I recall once during his last years how he told Eberle & me that he’d really wanted to be a stone mason. Somehow that had surprised me, because he’d always worked with wood & tinkered with machines—his passion for stone had never been on the surface.

However, I was able to get a bit more understanding of this from the photo album that has pictures from his CCC days. His CCC unit’s task was to build a stone house at the Vermont State Park in Townsend—that’s the building in the tinted photograph; my dad wrote February 1935 on the back as a point of reference. During construction, however, the CCC crew lived in a tent village—see the bottom photo.

I wonder if those were happy times for my dad—he looks quite sprightly in a number of photos from that album, & he looks quietly happy in the photo leading off this post, where he kneels with hammer & cold chisel. He met my mother during his days at Townsend—she & her mother came there for an outing, tho apparently my grandmother didn’t necessarily approve of this Irish catholic worker paying attention to her daughter!

The photos fill in some of the story—but there are gaps that can’t be filled in now. What do we know of another?—the stream of another consciousness, the moment by moment feelings, the aspirations, the disappointments…. We can know “facts,” but in a twist on an old saw, “facts are not feelings.” Still, these old photos are a window at least to look thru & meditate upon.

For more Sepia Saturday participants, please check out this link!


  1. Very nice post. I should go through my old photographs of family. Sort of planning to do some of this once the weather gets so hot that I don't want to be out in it (quite the opposite of where you live).
    I like your words: "What do we know of another?—the stream of another consciousness, the moment by moment feelings, the aspirations, the disappointments…." By the time we begin to wonder about these things it is generally to late to find the answers or seems too personal to ask.

  2. I like your description of your dad with the cold chisel in his hand. The house they were building looks like many of the houses in the country towns in our region of S. Ontario. They are beautiful, aren't they?
    Irish Catholic, huh? How did I miss that detail before?

    You sound kind of chipper, John. Must be the meds, eh?


  3. Another absolutely fascinating post. Love the photographs but it is that third one which is my favourite : it tells of so much. It's posts like this which keep the quality of Sepia Saturday so high.

  4. "The photos fill in some of the story—but there are gaps that can’t be filled in now. What do we know of another?—the stream of another consciousness, the moment by moment feelings, the aspirations, the disappointments…. We can know “facts,” but in a twist on an old saw, “facts are not feelings.” Still, these old photos are a window at least to look thru & meditate upon."

    How very, very true. I look at many of the older photos in our collection and often wonder what the story was behind the smiles and the posed moments caught on film. Still, they are better than nothing.

  5. I was thinking along the same lines of facts are not feelings as I wrote my post. Even though both my great-grandparents lived into their 90s, I wish I had thought of asking them more personal questions when I had the chance.

    Lovely photos. The old cars with the tents is so cool!

  6. Very good photos. I understand the CCC provided employment when there was none but back then folks were willing to work. I shudder to think of the words that would be used if we attempted to put the unemployed to work at such tasks today! Your photos are very interesting and it sounds like you have lots more to share. So true, "what do we know of another.."

  7. Very interesting post...loved all the photos! The last one is my favorite with the tents and old cars!

  8. Hi everybody!

    Lizzy: I'd love to see some of your old family photos, & yes it would be a good project for the summer heat!

    Kat: I'm pretty chipper--have been doing more the past couple of days & more or less holding up. Yes, dad was Irish catholic, but mom is Scots/English methodist (born Anglican, but switched in her teens).

    Alan: Thank you very much for those kind words!

    Barry: Absolutely better than nothing--& they give the mind something to meditate & ruminate upon--I think a good deal can be pieced together from the images.

    Willow: That's interesting we were both on similar wavelengths--I very much enjoyed your SS post!

    Pat: Thanks! I might be more optimistic about trying a CCC type organization these days, but I respect your opinion on the matter. Always glad to see you drop by!

    Jacqueline: Thanks so much!

    Betsy: Thanks for stopping by--glad you enjoyed it.

  9. Oh I love CCC stories! The stone building must still be there, right? I have a great CCC story w/ photos to share, coming up in a few weeks. They were such hard working men, living in less than ideal conditions at times, and we have them to thank for so many of our roads, parks, lakes, buildings. Power to the lifelong Democrat!!! I come from a long line of staunch stuffy blue-blooded Republicans that probably flip over in the grave each time I vote. ;>)

  10. Hi Roots of Home: & welcome to Robert Frost's Banjo. For my money, your comment about the CCC is right on. I really enjoyed your Sepia Saturday post!

  11. I have a number of blue collar, yellow dog Democrats in my family too. Those are all great photos, and thanks for sharing a first hand story about the CCC. It played an important role in many lives and our country. I also love the frames on the photo prints.

  12. I enjoy the mix of history and personal story. I remember reading about the CCC in history class, but it makes it even more real to hear stories about people who lived during this time and contributed to it.

  13. Sorry you've been so unwell, but I appreciated the introduction to Tietze syndrome. I love hearing about all the wierd things our bodies can throw at us. Chest pain has a way of being especially disabling - fear of heart attack aside - so I'm glad you've discovered drugs. Thanks for your comment on my latest, perceptive and appreciative as always.

  14. Hi Ladrón, HKatz & Mairi

    Ladrón: Yes, I love the look of those old photos--the borders & the fringed edges (tho I crop the latter in scans because I'm not good enough with Photoshop to make them look right). Thanks!

    HKatz: Glad you enjoyed this--my belief is that the CCC story is important to our times as well as important history.

    Mairi: Thanks for the kind words! I really enjoyed your most recent poem!

  15. Some Great Photos Here!
    What you said about your Dad rang some bells with me about mine.There are many many things I dont know about my Dad & his life\thoughts\ambitions (how could it be otherwise ,with anybody)
    We expect old photos to "Illustrate" solid "Fact" But, dont you think, sometimes it can work the other way around? We sometimes learn more by reflecting back from an old photo.
    Oh! I also love the tinted effect!
    Cheers from Tony.

  16. Hi Tony: Yes, aboslutely. I feel I've learned quite a bit about my dad from all these photos--not just in terms of "facts," but also in less tangible things.

  17. I was ready to go for last week's sepia sat also. I really enjoy hearing about the corps. I am familiar with what went on in Minnesota by seeing a cabin near Grand Rapids, Minn. at a Forest History Museum. Great post.

  18. Hi LD: Thanks! I think it's important to get the CCC history out there. I also enjoyed your Sepia Saturday post.


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