Sepia Saturday: Madame Curie – And Laird Addis

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

I’ve struggled this week to respond to the prompt photo and finally landed on the theme of famous people when I remembered a story from a family newsletter. The story was written by Laird Addis, Sr., brother-in-law of my grandmother Abbie Webber Smith.

Here is great-uncle Laird, looking as dapper as W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood in the prompt photo. There is snow on the ground in New York, but Laird is without a coat, scarf, or cigarette. At least someone had a camera.

Laird Addis, Sr.

I’ll just let Uncle Laird tell the story in his own words, as submitted to the family newsletter, The Strange Webber Connection, Fall 1996.

Unfortunately, there is no photo of young Laird meeting Madame Curie.

Marie Curie and daughter, seated. Standing, Mrs. Meloney and Curie’s other daughter

Madame Curie does look tired, which coincides with Uncle Laird’s story and the newspaper reports that described her as being ill during her visit to the United States.

Madame Curie with President Harding 20 May 1921

My little chemo brain doesn’t have any more words today, so I’ll simply refer you to a couple of articles which provide a little background regarding Marie Curie’s visit to the United States in 1921, the crowdfunding efforts of Mrs. Meloney, the presentation of a gram of radium by President Harding, and Mme. Curie’s seemingly selfless dedication to her work.

Chemistry International: Marie Curie’s Relations with the United States

Mme. Curie is Dead; Martyr to Science

Please travel to Sepia Saturday to explore what others have offered for the prompt.

8 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday: Madame Curie – And Laird Addis

  1. I like stories about brief encounters with historic figures. This past week in preparation for a yard sale, my 88 year old mother found a small figurine of Santa Claus which she claims was given to her as a teenager by a woman then 100+. In her story the woman’s father was a construction boss on the Washington Monument in the 1860s and had taken his daughter to meet President Lincoln. In my mother telling the figurine was a gift from Lincoln. Needless to say Santa will remain safely in an heirloom shoebox attached to a tale, true or tall, that makes it a special thing.

  2. Such a fascinating story of a family connection to a famous figure — a tale I am sure is treasured by you and your family. I have a news clip of my Aunt Rita Laurence (my mother’s sister) meeting with Albert Schweitzer’s daughter during a tour of the California lab where my aunt worked as a blood bank technician, which I have featured on my blog — a random discovery while going through a box of inherited memorabilia.

  3. Love the story of your good fortune meeting, and gaining autographs of, famous people such as Madame Curie and several presidents. When I was 12 I was chosen to sing with the San Francisco Symphony in a performance for our school district. It happened the day after my 12th birthday, actually. My grandmother had given me a lovely autograph book as a gift and all I could think about was getting the symphony conductor, Kurt Herbert Adler, to sign my new autograph book. I was so excited when he finally came over to me and I held the book out for his signature, I presented it to him upside down and backwards! Ah well. I still have the autograph book & his signature (upside down at the end of the book instead of the beginning). Funny thing – 6 years later I attended a music camp with his daughter, and 10 years after that, I married and became the sister-in-law of the San Francisco Opera company’s Asst. director who worked with director, Kurt Herbert Adler. Now that’s what you call a “small world”. 🙂

  4. Mike, Molly, and LaNightingale, I am enjoying your comments of other celebrity encounters! What fun! Some of the treasures we hold on to …

  5. Thanks for the wonderful story of Laird and Madame Curie…and a woman who made it all happen, Mrs. Melony. I’d never heard of her, nor the Delineator. It must have been a great era for women, having just achieved the vote, and Curie’s Nobel Prizes (1903 & 1911). I never knew of her visit to the US, nor meeting President Harding. Loved learning of other reader’s encounters with celebrities, of which I have none!

  6. OH MY GOSH. I need to pay closer attention to the prompt photos. I skipped this one, but I’m going back to do it now that I realize “famous person” is part of the prompt. This is a wonderful post, chemo brain or not!! You are on top of it, Kathy!

  7. I really had trouble coming up with an idea for this one, so I got a late start. Can’t wait to read about your famous person!

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