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13 February 2009

Photo Friday - Our Youthful Grandmothers

Both my grandmothers were born in the 19th century - my paternal grandmother, born Lillian Taylor, was born on 15 July 1881. My dad was born when she was in her late 40s, almost unheard of in those days (1920s), particularly as she had only one other child who was 20 years older than my dad - he wasn't the youngest of 8 or anything. My dad was nearly 40 when I was born, so my Nana, as I called her, was always an old lady to me. She looked like the little old lady who owned Tweety-Pie. In her youth, she looked very much like my sister did at the same age (but with less makeup ...)

Here she is in her 20s. She died in 1974, aged 93.

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And a couple of her taken in her 30s.

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This is my favourite photo of her. When she and my grandfather (known to me as 'Gramp') got engaged, instead of an engagement ring, Nana, always practical, chose a bicycle instead. This picture was taken in 1902.

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My maternal grandmother, Sarah Aspinall, was a little younger, but still born in the 19th century, around 1894. She died in her late 40s of an asthma attack during an air raid on Manchester in WW2. Obviously I never met her, and had never even seen a photo of her until I was in my 30s. I was stunned to see how much I look like her.

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So, let's see your Grannies!

posted by essexjan 13 February | 04:12
Great idea essexjan, I have a few photos of my granny's, but I'm not sure if they're online.

Both of my paternal grandmother's are dead--that is on my father's side--so I never did get to know them.

The granny's on my mother's side--my great-grandmother, and my grandmother--were both pretty feisty ladies, and still are, at least my grand mother is. She's in her 70's right now, maybe even close to 80--78 or so--so she's really up there right now. She had a bad fall too this year so we're all very concerned about her--she's got 3 elder daughter's, and two sons. She had another daughter who I would have loved--a real wild child during those day's--who died because of a tumour at 24.

My great grandmother was born way back. She even remembers when the Eiffel Tower was constructed and the British were here, and fondly remembers those days. She used to be taken to places in a Palanquin with the whole thing covered ornately so that out-sider's could not look in, and used to order the servants carrying her. She used to be kept in such stile by her husband, my great grandfather, who loved her no doubt. The streets were much cleaner back then she says. She died at the ripe old age of a hundred and something, a couple of years ago. It was nice sitting with her during those days. She used to live with one of her two son's, or one of her daughter's. The other one was in Pakistan, so we had to wait until she visited.
posted by hadjiboy 13 February | 05:16
The idea was sakura's, hadjiboy, so I won't take credit for it. It's a great theme, I think.
posted by essexjan 13 February | 05:22
I don't have any pictures of my father's mother, but here's a 1940s portrait of Gladys, my maternal grandmother:

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posted by misteraitch 13 February | 06:26
Jan, what great pics! I think you look amazingly like your paternal grandmother too.

(I wish I had pics of my grandmothers, but I don't here.)
posted by Specklet 13 February | 06:58
If you saw my sister, Specklet, you'd see how much she looks like Nana. I've seen other pictures of my maternal grandmother and I am SO like her it's uncanny.
posted by essexjan 13 February | 07:01
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Frances, 1940.

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Frances, 1944.
posted by -t 13 February | 07:56
Aw, I don't have my gram's pictures here.
posted by Stewriffic 13 February | 08:22
I don't have pictures, but she did leave a memoir, written not long before she passed away in 2007. She was born in 1910.

posted by plep 13 February | 08:34
I don't have any pictures of my grandmother scanned. But I love old pictures! The women always looked so beautiful and glamorous. Ten seconds on Myspace and you'll notice that we just don't have that same quality these days.
posted by loiseau 13 February | 08:47
Oh, Plep -- that memoir looks fascinating. Thanks for posting the link!
posted by loiseau 13 February | 08:48
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Here's a picture of my maternal grandmother in 1937 when she was thirty years old. This was taken on Charles street in Greenwich Village probably by her brother who was a professional photographer later to have a long career at the Daily News. She lived until 1982, the year I went to college so I got to know her very well and still miss her.
posted by octothorpe 13 February | 08:57
Apart from the bentwood chair in the foreground, that's a timeless photo, octothorpe - it could have been taken at any time from the 30s to the present day.
posted by essexjan 13 February | 09:34
Plep, your grandmother's memoir is fascinating. I liked the part about the Black Country dialect. It brought to mind the one-liner about the two old ladies in Wolverhampton in 1938 who were terrified when they heard that Hitler's troops had marched into Walsall.
posted by essexjan 13 February | 09:58
oh this is a fantastic thread! i wish some threads would stick around longer than a day or so. this one i would nominate to hang out for discussion for a month. i'll see if i can dig around some stuff.
posted by eatdonuts 13 February | 10:24
Wow this rocks. I'm gonna scan a pic in tomorrow.
posted by gomichild 13 February | 10:48
My mother scanned in a bunch of pages from my maternal great-grandmother's family bible (that's my mom's dad's mom). There are some charming pictures of my grandfather, and one picture of my grandmother on her wedding day that really shows why my granddad married her, despite the age difference and the fact that she already had 3 little girls:
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That's my Grandpa Dave on the right, who was 21 at the time and had just signed on to the Navy from the Navy Reserves. and my Grandma Dave in the middle (her real name was Lou, but she was Grandma Dave to all her grandkids), who was 35. I believe that's the minister on the left. I love the dress and the huge broach.

My grandma died on April 16, 1995, which was Easter Sunday. I was 11 at the time, and knew her as a skilled card player and chain-smoker who sort of terrified me. My Catholic great-grandmother faifully records that she was an alcoholic woman of loose morals, which means we'd probably have gotten along really well.

For a wedding present, my maternal grandmother made me a scrapbook of her wedding and my parent's wedding. I really should scan that in someday.
posted by muddgirl 13 February | 11:22
OK, wow. My grandfather is the dude on the left and the minister is on the right.
posted by muddgirl 13 February | 11:28
My mother's mother, my only grandmother.
Baby Grandma, ~1924
My Pre-teen Grandma, early-1930's
Young and Married Grandma
Grown Grandma
posted by geekyguy 13 February | 12:02
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My grandmother, Betty, along the Hudson on her honeymoon in 1939. She grew up in southern NJ, one of 12 children of Italian immigrant farmers. She married my grandfather and moved to the Bronx, where they raised two sons. She lived into her 90s.

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My husband's grandmother, Kay, after her graduation from the College of Mount Saint Vincent 1932ish. She is one of four girls, whose parents insisted that they each learn how to drive and go to college!

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Kay on the beach sometime while still dating her husband of 70 years.

Some of my years might be off by a little. My information is coming from Kay, whose 98th birthday we just celebrated. She's a funny, strong woman who grew up in the Bronx, traveled the world, and came to live with family here in California a few years ago after the death of her husband.

She is very opinionated and still votes in every election. We've argued politics for years. 2008 was the first time in her life she voted for a Democrat, Obama. She was so proud that she got to do it and be part of history. I get choked up thinking about it!

My husband has a weekly dinner date with her. Sometimes I'm invited along, but it's their special night. I'm just grateful to know someone so lucid who has been on the planet for 98 years!

I like to imagine that both ladies, being in the Bronx, must have crossed paths a few times!

posted by simbiotic 13 February | 12:07
I forgot this one. Perhaps my favorite.
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posted by geekyguy 13 February | 12:08
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My grandmother is the littleist Indian, there. I have no idea why they're dressed up like that - that is my grandmother Alice, my mother's mother, her brother Edward who died very young and her sister Claire. I'll have to scan in a picture of Alice as an adult. She was apparently not a very happy person - she was hospitalized for depression a couple of times - but she went off to art school in the 20s. Eventually she worked in a bookshop; I only ever met her maybe once. My mother & her sister, my aunt, were much closer to their mother's sister, my great aunt Claire than they were to their own mother. Here is Claire as a young woman. She was super glamorous, also went to art school, became a fashion designer and illustrator.
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posted by mygothlaundry 13 February | 12:46
Yeah, Jan. I think you look a *lot* like your paternal grandmother as well.

The women always looked so beautiful and glamorous.

That could be because photography was more involved back then, with more expensive equipment, longer preparation times, than it is today, in the age of cheap digital cameras with 600+ image capability. People probably took it a little more seriously.
posted by jason's_planet 13 February | 14:36
All of these women are exquisite! I really wish I had a pic of my grandmother on each side. I look like a perfect blend of both.
posted by sakura 13 February | 14:45
I don't have any pictures of my grandmothers beyond my recollections: My mother's mother, Helen, had the clearest blue eyes and wavy red hair, and my father's mother, Grace, had brown hair and the most animated face, she was always joking, but it was like she could tell a joke with her face alone -- a stern look, a smirk, an eye roll, a smile -- they were both beautiful, and I really treasure their memory.
posted by Hugh Janus 13 February | 15:08
They're not all beautiful and glamorous. Depression-era rural south-western Virginia could be a gritty place, and my grandmother's picture shows it, I think; back row, in black:

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Maybe you had to know her to find the image disturbing. She was full of love and a great Southern cook, but I can see the early signs of the the life she'd live--plagued by her own ill health and depression, and her husband's alcoholism and physical abuse. To me, she looks terribly young and vulnerable in this picture.

posted by mrmoonpie 13 February | 15:22
Damn nearly missed this one! Great theme!
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That'd be her with the cigarette.

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I'm not sure which one she is. The older one on the left, I think?
posted by CitrusFreak12 13 February | 18:05
I love my Grandmother greatly and look forward to posting her pic. Something is timeless about what our Grandmothers did to get us to where we are today; I really don't think things will ever measure up to what they did for us to make it possible.
posted by buzzman 13 February | 21:46
Wish I had some youthful-grandma pics; my mom has them all. One I would definitely post, if I had it, is the rare type of picture "my grandmother when she was a nun." Yes, a year in the convent did not convince her that the religious life was to be hers. Fortunately for her descendents. Neat pic, though. Great thread! More old photo threads!
posted by Miko 14 February | 23:05
Oh, these pictures are great - and you all have such beautiful Nanas!

I (sadly) don't have any pics of my Nana or my Grandma when either was young, but I was thinkng today about how lovely it was that my Grandma died in a hospice in Canberra that was (previously) the maternity ward in which she gave birth to my father, and I now live in a suburb 1600km away with the same name (Acton)!
posted by goo 14 February | 23:49
I love this. Thanks.
posted by theefixedstars 28 February | 00:35
My (maternal) grandmother and grandfather on their wedding day in 1942. She still hasn't stopped complaining about being forced to use "funeral flowers" just because "there was some stupid war going on".
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posted by dabitch 01 March | 11:38