Austin Stories B.C. – A Camera and the Letter U

My attempt to share stories for each letter of the alphabet featuring our life in Austin B.C. (Before Children) 1975-1985. The 70s were a long time ago. 26 stories might be a stretch for my brain. I am behind, but intend to make it to Z! Today I have made it to U.

The prompt photo this week includes a woman with her camera.

As undergraduate students at Baylor, we were required to take three two-hour electives. My husband took a photography class that he really enjoyed and he encouraged me to take it the following semester, with the promise that he would help me. I enjoyed it too, but not enough to become proficient at determining the best shutter speed and light meter settings. I did enjoy the developing and printing process, though.

The university cleaned out some old model cameras and my husband bought this Kodak Duaflex II twin lens reflex camera. It was fun to use and he tells me that, although he had another camera, all of the photos he printed himself were taken with this one.

While we were still Baylor students we had access to the photography lab and my husband continued to take and print photographs. One of the things that was fun to do with this camera was to intentionally take double exposures. He enjoyed experimenting with different techniques and has always had an interest in architecture, so he often took photos of architectural details.

Once we moved to Austin, he found The Darkroom, located in a nondescript one-story building adjacent to the original Hyde Park Bar and Grill on Duval. The Darkroom would develop and print photos for you, or you could pay to use the darkroom equipment and do it yourself. That is what we did. After a while, we started developing film at home in the the windowless bathroom in our apartment and only did the enlarging and printing at The Darkroom. It saved a little money and was easy to do. I remember clipping developed film to hangers, then leaving them on the shower curtain rod to dry.

I really enjoyed the times we spent at The Darkroom together creating black and white photographs. Sadly, The Darkroom closed sometime in the early 80s, I guess, and that was the end of that.

I have shared quite a few of my husband’s black and white photos in this Austin Stories series. As I was looking through his photos again, I found one featuring the letter U, bringing me closer to completing my alphabet challenge.

May 1977 Middle Amana Cemetery. © Martin Morales

This photo is one of a series of photographs taken in May of 1977, when my husband experienced Iowa for the first time. We went to the Amana Colonies with my Grandmother Abbie (my father’s mother). The photo above taken at the Middle Amana Cemetery. The photo below somewhere in the villages.

The Amana Colonies is a National Historic Landmark and a fun place to visit. I’d like to go back one of these days. A few years later, my husband bought me an Amana rocking chair, a favorite of mine that I have written about previously.

1977 May, Amana Colony woolen mill. © Martin Morales

Another photo of the two of us at the end of the day. Or maybe at the beginning of the day?

My husband and I also spent a day in Pella, Iowa during the Tulip Festival.

© Martin Morales. May 1977, Pella, IA. woman spinning

©Martin Morales. May 1977. Man making wooden shoes

© Martin Morales. Pella, IA May 1977

My favorite photo from the day.

© Martin Morales, May 1977 Pella, IA. Man with dog

And because it was a tulip festival, I must show a few photos in color.

Street sweepers.

My husband’s impression of Iowa was that there was a lot of corn. I’m not finding any photos of corn, but he did get one of a farm near Hedrick, where my dad (Jerry) lived with his wife, Josephina, and their daughter, my younger sister.

© Martin Morales. Farm outside Hedrick, IA May 1977

The old train depot in Hedrick. I think someone converted it to a restaurant for a short time.

© Martin Morales, May 1977. Old train station Hedrick, IA

And a couple of family photos. My younger sister at the playground in Hedrick.

© Martin Morales, May 1977. Hedrick, IA

Me with my mother’s parents, Eveline and Tom Hoskins, in Ottumwa, IA. I had lots family in Iowa!

© Martin Morales May 1977. Me with Tom and Eveline Hoskins

It is too bad that there isn’t a Darkroom today. I think it is a hobby my husband would enjoy again and I wouldn’t mind being his assistant.

**** I finished and posted this and was putting away a few things when I found a foldout postcard set from the Amana Colonies that my husband sent to his parents. Ha!

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday this week. Please visit other bloggers at Sepia Saturday, where I always find something to delight.

Austin Stories B. C. – Imperfectly Good Therapy

My attempt to share stories for each letter of the alphabet featuring our life in Austin B.C. (Before Children) 1975-1985. The 70s were a long time ago. 26 stories might be a stretch for my brain. I am way, way behind, but intend to make it to Z! Today I have made it to T.

As I go through photos for this series, I sometimes chuckle at what I am wearing. Or what my husband is wearing. And I have been surprised to see how many of the clothes were ones I made – like these plaid bell bottoms with cuffs I shared in the previous post.

Nice matching of plaid at the seams, if I do say so myself.

I don’t sew much anymore, but It was a favorite pastime then. I remember one time when I had the week off but my husband didn’t, so we couldn’t go anywhere. I spent the week just sewing. I was either working as a social worker or doing a social work internship at the time. I later realized that my week of sewing was so enjoyable because it was an antidote to working with people on people problems that are not easily solved or completed. While I was sewing, there was no conversation other than the thoughts in my head, or an old movie or As the World Turns on the television. I could make what I wanted with fabric I had chosen. If I made a mistake, I could rip it out and do it over. I had instructions to follow, including illustrations. I made the pieces fit together, even if I had to force the fabric to do my will. I could finish it to my satisfaction, or just stop and leave it be.

I can’t find any scraps from a dress I made that week, nor the pattern. It was a turquoise wrap-around dress – no buttons or zippers. I wore it fairly often, but wished I had used a lighter-weight fabric.

Imperfectly good therapy.

I suppose it could be embarrassing to admit that I still have scraps from almost everything I ever made, but I’m not. I could have worse traits. I thought it would be fun to make a mess in my sewing nook and pull out scraps to match with some photos. I wonder when it will be fun to put everything back?

I shared this photo in a recent post.

A simple loose-fitting sundress or jumper. I wore it to my husband’s high school reunion in 1981.

Me and my mom around 1983. At first I couldn’t figure out what that “bunny ear” is at my mom’s wrist. Then I remembered that I tied a hot pink belt at the waist of this dress. When she put her arms around me, it must have flipped an end up to reveal the back side.

Most of the clothes I made were pretty simple. (I promise, that dark top on the right was bright green.)

Sometimes I took on a pattern with sleeves, buttonholes, and pockets. And stripes.

Bad photo of us with me in a jumpsuit.

I even made a shirt for my husband. Silky synthetic fabrics with vintage images were popular. I’m just wearing one of his flannel shirts here, but I made a few things for myself with that 40s vibe.

This was one of my favorite dresses to wear around. I made the pattern twice. The other one in a light blue calico, but I preferred the print of the brown one. In my grad school graduation photo, you can see a sliver of this dress peeking out. They ended up in my girls’ dress up box.

I found a couple of skirts still intact. Was I ever that size? And I found more fabric scraps, but now things are such a messy mess from me looking through pictures and fabric scraps that I think it is best that I stop.

I stopped sewing for myself when I had kids, and started sewing for them. The only sewing I have done the past few years are port pillows and masks. The oncology center I go to stopped taking handmade items because of Covid, so I haven’t made port pillows in over a year.

Recently I have been thinking of making a few simple dresses that would be cool and comfortable. I wonder what size pattern? I wonder when someone will clean up the mess so that there is room to sew? I wonder if it will still be imperfectly good therapy?

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday, where other bloggers are responding to the prompt photo for today – not the one from August 21st. Pay them a visit. It will be good therapy. I promise.



Austin Stories B. C. – Sweet Faces

My attempt to share stories for each letter of the alphabet featuring our life in Austin B.C. (Before Children) 1975-1985. The 70s were a long time ago. 26 stories might be a stretch for my brain. I am way, way behind, but intend to make it to Z! Today I have made it to S.

Look at those sweet faces!

There might have been a Ryan, a Michael, a Valerie?
Too many years have passed.

They were sweet children, but they were two. Two-year-olds have a reputation for a reason.

We moved to Austin in the fall of 1975. My husband took a job with Mary Lee Foundation at the Live Oak campus, and I was hired as a teacher for the two-year-old class at Congress Ave. Baptist Preschool. As you can see, the class size was small. As it should be!

Ostensibly, the children were potty trained, but two-year-olds are unreliable little humans who often wait until the last minute has passed. Unreliable moods and behaviors too. Helpless one minute and fiercely independent the next. “Me do it!!!”

As I recall, the little girl was prone to both, a problem when she waited too long and refused help.

I had much younger siblings and did a fair amount of babysitting growing up, but being confined for 5 hours in a room with a bunch of two-year-olds on a rainy day, well – sometimes I bumped against the limits of my patience and creativity and just wanted to sit on the floor and cry like a two-year-old.

Let’s take a closer look at one of those sweet faces. He’s the one with a story I remember.

I’ll call him Michael, which might be his name. On one particular day, Michael had the impulse to bite. Repeatedly. He didn’t seem particularly out of sorts, but any time one of the other kids exposed a body part in front of his face, he just opened his mouth and bit an arm or a shoulder – whatever was available. Fortunately, none of the bites broke the skin or left a lasting mark.

The first time it happened, I looked him in the face and gave him a firm, “No biting!” And the second time. By the third time, I was face-to-face and put my shushing finger up against his lips and said, “No biting!” I don’t know how many times he actually bit someone, but I seems like he got every kid at least once.

I told his mother about the biting when she picked him up. The next morning, Michael’s mother approached me with a worried expression. “Did Michael bite you? Last night he kept saying, ‘I bite teacher.'”

I guess I made some kind of an impression on him.

Thankfully I don’t remember him having another day like that one.

On a side note: During the summer, there was a woman who coordinated recreation, including trips to the pool and some other fun activities. I really liked her and her energy with the children. Later, we met up again at First Methodist, where we are both still members.

Also – I made those pants.

This is my response to the Sepia Saturday prompt photo from August 14! Please visit other Sepia Saturday bloggers who may take you to faraway places or on a musical journey or share some research in response to the current prompt.