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

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