Sepia Saturday – On Parade

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.

Four women sit in a convertible that is outfitted with two small American flags.
The women wear hats.
The head and hat of the woman in the passenger seat is visible above the windshield.
The woman in back on the right has light-colored hair parted on the right.
The woman in the driver’s seat wears a hat set back on her head.
Her dark hair is styled a bit back from her face and is parted on the left.
She sports a light-colored and tailored outfit.
She faces the camera.

The light-colored car is stopped on a residential street.
The car displays a sign:
Jerry Smith’s
Sales … Service
Hedrick Y
Fremont, Iowa

A flatbed trailer is hitched to the car and bears a sign:
Motorcycles Lead In Highway Safety.
Three banners complete the display on the side of the trailer:
Safety Award
American Motorcycle Assn
The middle banner is dated 1952. Dates on the other banners are not readable.
A woman and a man sit astride motorcycles atop the trailer.
They wear matching hats.

Queen Elizabeth II and her Lady-in-Waiting arrived at a reception in Brisbane in 1954.

That’s my mother sitting in the driver’s seat looking a bit like the Queen, don’t you think? Mom’s mother-in-law, Abbie Webber Smith is in the passenger seat. And the two “ladies-in-waiting” are a good friend of my mother on the left, and Mom’s sister Wilma on the right. I don’t know the identities of the people on the motorcycles.

Jerry Smith was my dad. He sold and repaired motorcycles and was also a professional racer. The car, signs, and trailer appear to be an entry in a parade. I would guess the parade was in Ottumwa, Iowa – lots of brick streets there; it is my mom’s hometown; and is only 20 miles or so from the location of dad’s business. He would certainly want to advertise his business to onlookers at a parade in the nearest city. But he chose to do more than just show off a couple of bikes and the name of his business. He hoped to encourage sales by promoting motorcycles as female-friendly and safe – not the stereotypical image of outlaw bikers portrayed by Marlon Brando and others in the movies.

I would date the photo 1953-1955. I was born in the fall of 1953 (we can’t see Mom’s belly in this photo) and my parents separated/divorced when I was about two.

I hung around Dad’s business during my visits and the wings on the hats made me think they might be an emblem from BSA motorcycles, although they are not the only motorcycle maker that uses wings as part of their branding. I found a matching hat for sale on eBay. Unfortunately, the seller’s description is not definitive as to date or brand – BSA or BMW?

accessed from eBay: Vintage Motorcycle Hat 1960s 1970s Cap AMA Pin Patch BSA BMW Victory Buco Rope 1

Dad sold both BSA and BMW motorcycles and I just have a hunch this is BSA – a British bike – fitting to honor the Queen this weekend. BMW, a German bike, tends to have checkerboard patterns as part of their branding. But – just my guess.

I think the motorcycles are probably BSAs as well. This 1953 BSA Gold Star looks similar to the bike on the right. But the pipes of the one on the left? My google search turned up zilch. I’ll guess it is also a BSA. Maybe one of you knows vintage motorcycles and can chime in.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday on this Jubilee Weekend. See what other bloggers have created here.

I have been absent from Sepia Saturday for a few weeks. I committed myself to a series that I don’t seem to have my heart in at the moment – plus I have been going about it all wrong. And there have been the ups and downs of life. It was a nice break to just respond to the prompt photo without trying to make it fit my self-imposed restrictions.

One of the (several) sad things that happened recently is the unexpected death of a genealogy cousin I never got to meet. He died a week ago and the anniversary of his birth is today. Brian Schneden’s grandmother Blanche Coates and my grandmother Eveline Coates were sisters. Years ago I found a letter Brian wrote to my grandmother apologizing for his delay in returning some family history papers to her. I think he was a teenager at the time. His name was unfamiliar to me. At least we had the internet by then and I was able to find an email address for him. He generously shared photos and information with me over the years and we got as far as becoming Facebook friends. We wondered when we would have the opportunity to meet and thought about how great it would be to take a trip to our common ancestral home in Durham, England. In fact, last Sunday, I found what looks like it could be our great-grandfather on a ship passenger list arriving in the U.S. in 1884. I thought I would message Brian to get his thoughts. Less than an hour later, I saw a report of his death on Facebook. Scraps of paper and seemingly unimportant letters can be gold to those of us who have the genealogy bug; the generosity of those who share family photos and information is a treasure; and, as we all know but don’t like to admit, life can be unknowably short, so don’t delay.

His side job –

Brian H Schneden has over 30 years of experience in genealogical and family history research.
He works extensively with families of Germanic and UK origin and specializes in Schleswig-Holstein. Of particular interest to him is the region of the former republic of Dithmarschen. 

In addition to traditional genealogical research, he also assists clients with needs in the areas of DNA, the construction of family health histories, and forensic genealogy.

He was a Charter and Founding Member of the “American Schleswig-Holstein Heritage Society” (ASHHS), Davenport, IA, and Genealogical Co-editor of the “Scott County, IA Heritage Book” project.

His current projects include the “DNA connection”, families of “Die Republik Dithmarschen, der Bauernrepublik,” and continued research within his own genealogy and family history. 

As a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), he abides by the Code of Ethics set forth by the organization in accordance with prevailing professional standards in genealogy, and the Code of Ethics adopted by the Board of Certification of Genealogists. He also holds membership in the National Genealogical Society.

I hope the ancestors are celebrating your birthday with you today, Brian, and revealing all of the family stories and secrets we have been searching for.

Sepia Saturday – Desk Shots

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.

Sepia Saturday 606 : Office Worker

I couldn’t find many photos of my people working at desks, but I found a couple of newspaper clippings – both used more as advertising than informational.

The first is my mother, taken in 1951. She must have been a newlywed when this was taken as she and my dad(Jerry) married in July of 1951. I have heard that my parents first met when my father went to the bank seeking a loan. Unfortunately, the clipping doesn’t include the name of the bank in Ottumwa, Iowa.

The next newspaper clipping is of my mother’s older brother, Albert, at Union Trust and Savings in Ft. Dodge, Iowa. My cousin thinks this was the mid 1960s while she was in elementary school. Her mom, Al’s wife, remembers that there was a drive-up bank in the Crossroads mall area when he was hired to manage it. At the time it was only a drive-up with a tiny walk-in lobby in addition to the drive up and a tiny office with a small desk, chair and not much else. It was several years later that the full bank was built and that picture was taken just before the grand opening and open house. She remembers this as a good time for Al as he had worked hard to bring in new customers.

I thought it was interesting that I had two clippings of siblings working in banks in different towns, in different years, with the clippings being more of a human interest type of advertising.

When I asked my cousin, Al’s daughter, for any information she knew about the photo, she also pondered this question: My mother would have sat at a desk a lot more than my father did, but where are all the pictures of secretaries?! At least one of the businesses for which my mom worked would have failed very early on had it not been for her, I think. Not sure that she would agree, but I think she was vitally important for a small city one-man show led by a guy who was new to the city.

This is my late contribution to Sepia Saturday this week. Take a seat at your desk and see what others have prepared by clicking here: Sepia Saturday.

Sepia Saturday – A girl and a Bicycle

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.

It has been a really long time since I participated in Sepia Saturday! The first photo to come to mind is one I posted a long time ago for another Sepia Saturday prompt. An unknown girl with an unknown dog. They are still unknown to me.

Mystery Girl and Dog

But it doesn’t seem right to simply post this photo again, so let’s see if I can go another round with the general theme.

When my mom’s brother, Albert (Al) Hoskins was approaching a milestone birthday, his wife sent out a request for memories. Mom included a story about a bicycle.

I apologize for riding off on your bicycle when you would come in after deli­vering your paper route. I guess I thought a chance to ride a bicycle (when it wasn’t in use and without permission) was a very special treat for me.  I must have reasoned that if I to had ask I wouldn’t have been given permission.

After all those years, I guess Mom still felt guilty about making off with her brother’s bike. It sounds like it may have happened more than once, which makes me think Al didn’t blow up at her or get her into big trouble with their mother.

Here’s a photo of Mom with two of her brothers. Older brother Al on the left and younger brother Roy in the middle. I’m not sure how old Mom was when she made off with Al’s bicycle, but I would guess within a couple of years of this photo.

I recently had some old family films digitized and found a couple of clips of Mom riding bicycles. I haven’t mastered clipping and saving the moving pictures and uploading here, but I captured a still from one of them.

There’s Mom, breaking the rules again! Riding a bike in her Sunday clothes.

The kickstand is down in this still, but the film shows that she did, in fact, ride that bike across the yard in her heels and Sunday dress. I have no idea why. A little later in the movie, she had changed her clothes and took a spin down the street with my sister – pictured here. Maybe Kim had a new bike and Mom was encouraging her to ride. Or maybe Mom just felt that old urge to take off on a bike.

And just to bring things full circle, here is a shot of me with my bike in Great Bend, Kansas … in a Halloween mask? I have no clue about that costume.

Hop on your bicycle (or someone else’s) and ride over to Sepia Saturday to check out some other takes on the theme.