Well, you're not going to believe it, but THIS Photo Friday, the subject of our weekly vintage photograph round up is ACTUALLY RELATED TO ME. I know, I know-- take a deep breath, this is unprecedented. Folks, meet my grandmother, Hazel. She's my mom's mom, born in 1924 in Falmouth, Massachussetts.
Isn't she lovely! And a rare bird for the time period, too- while her father, brother, and mother were all average sized, my slim teenage grandma shot up to six feet tall by the time she reached her full height in 1939, owing to a rogue set of super-tall genes in the Hill branch of her family tree. She said it was well nigh impossible to find dresses that were long enough or skirts that didn't seem unfashionably short, so she sewed a lot of her own clothes. Can you imagine! The average height for a man in the 1930's was around 5'8''. Grandma said she heard a lot of "How's the weather up there?" for years and years as a shy teenager in Cape Cod. Even though it was hard being that same height in 1996, when I joined the "weather up there" club, I'm sure it was much more difficult in the homogeneous forties' to be a super-tall young woman. After all, aren't all the songs about "five foot two, eyes of blue" sweethearts?
Here she is on a bicycle I would still love to own. Flipping through the photo album this picture was scanned from, in the front room of her house when I was in middle school, she would tell me all about singing Frank Sinatra, bobby soxer love songs out the window to the moon, love sick for a neighborhood boy who lived down the street. She dated a boy named Jimmy whose father owned the bus station in town, and worked at the office counter there after school and during the summer selling bus tickets and reading the newspaper when the shift was slow. My granddaddy a Tennessee native with craggily handsome, black Irish good looks, was stationed at nearby Camp Edwards. He used to come down to the bus station to throw peanuts at said newspaper while my grandma read it, making like he wasn't sure what she was talking about as she angrily snatched the paper down from her pretty face. If you knew my granddaddy, this is easily identifiable as classic Lucien O'Brien behavior-- slightly puckish, devilish, endearing.
LOOK HOW TALL. WHAT DID I TELL YOU. What always interested me about the peanuts story was the ensuing clash of accents that must have happened when dialogue was initiated between the two future sweethearts. Besides that interlude in the service, my granddaddy was born in 1919 on one street in Inglewood, then moved one street over, built a house, and lived there the rest of his life. His accent was about as Southern and thick with local vernacular as you could imagine. My grandma, born in Massachusetts, didn't have much of a notable accent when I was growing up because she had been in Tennessee almost fifty years, compared to her eighteen years as a Yankee. However! When we went to visit my grandma's relations in Massachussetts around 1998, I was stunned to hear her cousin Avis, who grew up with her practically as a sister, had the "pahk the cah in the yawd" New England accent I'd heretofore only heard on tv. Can you imagine the two of them talking to each other in 1942? I don't know how they even would have understood what the other was saying? Maybe this contributed to the burgeoning romance, who knows. At any rate, they married, and had three six four and taller sons and my 5'9'' mom. I was doomed to this height in the genetics race.
Here's my grandma and her first born, Harold. She says she was 135 lbs when she married my granddaddy, and I'll believe it!
And one last photo, this one on the beach with Harold when my grandparents went back to Falmouth to visit her dad and stepmother. Another interesting thing about a lot of these "Up North" photos are the kinds of buildings. Lots of clapboard and shingles and things that don't look anything like Tennessee. I truly can't imagine picking up and moving almost 1,200 miles away, but you have to go where your life takes you, I guess. And how else would you get little old me born in sunny Tennessee some forty years later? Second to the peanuts conversation, the idea of traveling that distance by car in the forties' is kind of unreal to me. No interstates! Nothing but radio! A car that probably couldn't go much above 55! Bless their hearts.
So! What do you think of my real life, actual relatives making a debut appearance on the blog? Do you have any geographically farflung relatives or stories of great migration in your family tree? Have any super tall relatives whose height either caught up with you or skipped a generation? Do any of your family members have accents that are just wonderfully strange to think about? Let's talk!
Well, that's all for this week! I wish you luck at the sales (I'm off to the flea market bright and early tomorrow!), and keep a good thought for me and the wedding dress hunt this afternoon! Will report back on Monday. Til then!