Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Sepia Saturday - Enjoying Life

Sepia Saturday encourages bloggers to record their family history through photographs.

Here is a group clearly enjoying life!











I don't have many group photographs in my collection, but here are two of my Danson family from Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire).   where everyone seems very happy.  Judging by the dresses, they were taken on the same day, but  I don't know  what the occasion was - and I never asked the right questions, when I first came across the pictures in a family album.  
 

 
This appears to be taken outside a typical Blackpool bed & breakfast.  My grandmother (Alice Danson, nee English)  is in the centre of the group and to the right her daughters Kathleen (my mother), and Edith, and crouching at the side could be my Uncle Harry, smoking and wearing a carnation - though I did not instantly recognise him here. 
 

The second photograph shows  the Danson family - Edith, youngest daughter Peggy, my grandparents William and Alice, son Harry   and Kathleen, with youngest son Billy missing. The three sisters enjoyed fashion and  made their own clothes, with my mother apprenticed to a tailor at the age of 14. 

 
My guess as to the occasion rests on Uncle Harry wearing the carnation  Was this his short- lived wartime wedding?  But where was his bride?  Or was he best man?  Is that the happy couple  on the left of the first photograph where the girl has her arm around the man by her side, who I think is also sporting a buttonhole.   But why was my grandmother taking the centre stage position? 
 
Throughout my own life,  Uncle Harry lived in the family home with my grandfather and sister Edith (my grandmother died in 1945).  But through snatches of conversation I picked up as a child, I became aware that he had at some time married and was divorced - all very hush, hush  in those days, swept under the carpet and certainly never openly mentioned. 
 
It was only after his death, I found the papers confirming a marriage on 11th June 1940 and divorce in 1947.   
 
The marriage date is significant as Uncle Harry was one of the thousands of troops evacuated from Dunkirk on the flotilla of small ships  between 27th  May and 4th  June 1940. Yet here  he was some ten days later. 
 
My mother recalled how Harry arrived back home from Dunkirk  still in the uniform in which he entered the sea to be rescued.   He never talked about his wartime experiences, but seeing commemoration services or documentaries on TV could bring tears to his eyes, so the memories remained very strong.
 
 

Harry sorting quite a hairstyle! 
This studio pose was taken at a photographers in Salisbury. 
Could this have been when Harry was on army training? 




 The Errol Flynn look? 
 
Harry never remarried but lived a full life with interests in sailing, photography, stamp collecting and ballroom dancing where he was never short of partners.   He died  at  the age of 89, still retaining his good looks.  
  
Click HERE  to see how other bloggers were portraying life to the full.  
 
Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved
 
 
 
 
 
  

23 comments:

  1. Odd how the times have changed, things that were so hush, hush back in the day, are just common conversation for many today! That first photo is indeed a happy group. All your photos are wonderful.

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  2. "The little ships, the little ships,
    went out across the sea,
    to save the luckless army,
    from death and slavery"... is what I remember about Dunkirk from my childhood here in Australia. Still sends shivers down my spine. Amazing that your Uncle Harry was one of those men. Very handsome man, particularly as he matured.

    My take on the photos is this: Uncle Harry was the Groom, the other bloke is his Best Man, sister Edith wearing a corsage was Maid of Honour, bride (wearing a hat?) is sitting on the other side of your Grandmother. Bride's mother is tall woman behind your mum and Auntie Edith. She's also admiring your family in the other photo. Bride's Grandmother is behind Uncle Harry and has some of the provisions for Bridal breakfast/ dinner. Photo taken after the wedding... Uncle Harry was off rolling a smoke as women were organising the photo and got called over to be included. :-) ...
    Of course I could be totally wrong Susan {chuckle} Thanks for sharing. I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful photos and trying to work out the mystery. Cheerio for now, Catherine

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    1. Thank you so much, Catherine, for your analysis of the photograph. I was very impressed! I must admit that I had not picked up that Edith was wearing a corsage and the significance of that. Not too about the hat idea - or was it part of the dress of the woman behind. I enjoyed your take on the group - great fun!

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  3. I suppose the evacuation at Dunkirk emphasized how precarious their lives were, and perhaps hastened a marriage that otherwise might never have taken place - all pure speculation, of course.

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    1. Thanks, Brett - I think your supposition could well be right.

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  4. It sounds as though Harry had a full life despite his divorce and the Errol Flynn looks would have had the dance partners queueing up of course.

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  5. Did your mother pass on her skills at sewing to you? How lucky if she did. Have you watched The Great British Sewing Bee series on BBC2? I am not sure how manyepisodes I have missed, but I really enjoyed the episode I did see. It makes a nice change to competitive cooking programs. I wish someone had taught me to sew. I inherited a 1906 Singer a few years ago, seized up for 70 years, but the engineering impressed me and so I oiled and cleaned it and it became like new, so now I am always looking for little sewing jobs, even if its hemmimg old bits of sheet and towel to make useful cloths. !

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    1. Thanks, Nigel for your comment - I have a strong interest in crafts, thanks to my mother, but without her talent. I too am enjoying the "Sewing Bee" on TV -Mum would have loved it and the older contestant reminds me so much of her. The surprise is my daughter is also following it, so at elast interest is going do.wn the generations.

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  6. It seems like the bride should be the one next to Harry in the second photo.

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  7. Harry was definitely a good looking man. Better as he matured (like Sean Connery).

    It is amazing to think of the responsibility that 14 year olds had in those days. My grandmother left school at 14 to care for her family.

    I can't imagine a 14 year old doing that today.

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    1. I was thinking he looked better with age too!

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  8. It is always such a pleasure to examine the details in old photographs. So much is revealed, so much is hidden.

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  9. Harry's marriage must have been not too successful. Maybe that's why he never married again. He was a handsome man and I can imagine how lucky all his dancing partners must have felt. I'm surprised that not one of them snagged him.
    Nancy

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    1. Thanks, Barbara and Nancy - one "lady friend" would have loved to marry him but it was not to be and sadly she died, leaving Harry devastated.

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  10. A good match for the theme with the same happy faces. Mystery photos can be in any family, but solving the riddles can be frustrating without people to ask.

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  11. Uncle Harry,the bride, and the family history was quite entertaining. Good photos, good stories, good read.

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  12. Uncle Harry was quite a looker! Ahh, the mysteries of our elusive relatives and ancestors! It was quite interesting reading everyone's suppositions on this!

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  13. If only we had asked the right questions when we had the opportunity! Enjoyed the pictures and the speculation.

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  14. Yes it looks like the bride is the one wearing a corsage. What a wonderful two photos you have.I love doing genealogy and have lots of stories but not many photos.
    QMM

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    1. The puzzle is the girl wearing the corsage is definitely my Aunt Edith, who was my godmother and I was very close to her. The puzzle deepens!

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  15. Thanks for sharing your happy family shots. It is so fascinating trying to work out what was happening at the time. My family is also very reticent about a lot of things that happened in the early days. I only wish I had talked more to my mother when I had the chance.

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    1. How right you are, Liz. I suppose, in the days of deference to parents, we are reluctant to raise sensitive matters with our closest family.

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  16. I think it's a very common feeling you express when you say you never asked the right questions, when you first came across the pictures in a family album. I feel just the same about the old albums I'm going through now!

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