The year was 1934, and though a great depression set boundaries on aspirations and dreams, folks still found occasion to bring out the good dishes and light the candelabras.
Aunt Alice Stansbury was celebrating, as was her niece, Katie Bradford. Little Marilyn was coming! The toddler, Katie’s only grandchild, arrived midday at Alice’s home in Coshocton, Ohio. After the long car ride from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, the adults lingered in the back yard, soaking up the spring sun. Marilyn busied herself in the grass, sharing her pickings with her Grammy Bradford, Grandmother Minor, Aunt Alice, and Coshocton friend, Earnest Bachert. Young Uncle Carlos Bradford hung back, laughing at the scene.
Eventually, the party moved indoors, where Aunt Alice could keep tabs on the simmering pots and roasting meats. Donald and Kerma Bradford Minor coaxed their little botanist to wash up, preparing to take her place as honored guest at Aunt Alice’s festive table.
“Do you have any photographs of you, as a kid?”
“Oh, you’d be surprised by what I have,” said my mother.
I inherited fourteen assorted boxes and two trunks of photographs, documents, and special items at my mother’s death. As I unpacked each one, layer by layer, and recorded its contents, I was swept by regrets and wistful desires. So many stories, seen too late! Why didn’t she share her doll cradle? Or show me her baby books? What tales did she learn on her Aunt Anna’s lap?
I have finally completed this preliminary inventory, and have begun brainstorming a list of archival supplies that I will need to conserve this collection. And I have shed the regrets for stories lost. I have enough ingenuity and curiosity to play family detective, as well as, family curator.
First up, the cradle. Wait and see what I do with that eight inch wicker cradle, Mother. Its story will be discovered, bit by bit. The Minor family history will get told, story by story.
Dapple Gray with Unknown Rider
This photograph was found between pieces of sheet music, collected by my grandfather, Donald C. Minor, in the first half of the 20th century. It appears to be a poor copy of either a Carte De Visite or an early Cabinet card. The hat, sideburns and shirt will likely provide clues for dating. At this point, however, I am only able to surmise that this portrait is of a Minor, proudly showing off a favorite horse.
Vannoy Family Portrait, circa 1914: Paul, Ivan, Janet. Photographer A.C. “Al” Eckerman in Centerville, Iowa
I have scanned a number of family photographs from the early 1900s recently. I paused over this one, and returned to gaze upon this scene, time after time. The baby of the trio, Paul, appears to have pulled the book, hard, his way, so that he can see what Ivan and Janet are smiling about. Click on the photograph, to the attachment, and take some time to enlarge this group shot. The children are not reading a book aloud, to keep Paul still. They are looking at a photograph of three children. I imagine Paul, clambering up on the table while yelling, “Let me see! Let me see!” When at last he sits still, photograph in hand, little Paul shrieks with delight. ”That’s ME!”
Then, in that moment of still recognition, Al Eckerman captured his subjects in this beautiful portrait.
Bedie Harrington Vannoy holding baby Paul, as yet unnamed at the time this photograph was taken in 1911.
Bedie Harrington Vannoy was the daughter of Sarah Minor Harrington McClure. Born in Greene County, Pennsylvania around 1880, Beatrice “Bedie” married John Vannoy in the early part of the 20th century and moved with him to Iowa, where he was a minister. Bedie kept close touch with her family back home, writing frequently, particularly to Donald Minor, her cousin, born in 1902.
As she had children, Bedie would write postcards to Donald and her grandfather, Francis Marion, who lived with Donald and his parents, Robert and May Minor. This photograph was one such card, and reads:
“Dear Grandpa, We are all well and enjoying a cool wave very much for it has been so awfle (sic) dry and hot here. This is our new baby. He has no name yet but weighs 16 lbs. He is awfle (sic) good and we think him fine. Janet and Ivon have grown so much this summer. I hope you are well and enjoying life every day. I often think of you. Lovingly your Granddaughter Bedie
If you are a descendant of John and Bedie Vannoy and would like copies of the family portraits within my family archives, please contact me!
dkaysdays at gmail dot com