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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Say Cheese! Family Snapshots from the 1940's

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph  shows Louis Armstrong in 1948 sitting at a cluttered dressing table,  looking into a mirror, with a glimpse of small photographs pinned above on  the wall. 

I have done "clutter" and "singing" quite recently, so this week, I have turned to photographs taken around the 1940's, I think, on  a box camera,  which  produced  just a small 2x3 inch image. I have no idea why some have white borders on only two or three sides, perhaps the way the developed film was cut. 

Many families will have similar snapshots in their collection - not great artistically, but so full of memories. 

My husband's Uncle Mattie (Matthew  Iley White of South Shields),  taking a family snapshot  of his wife, nephew and sister.  I suspect photographing him was his brother-in= law who like so many of us has cut off Mattie's feet! 

A happy group of the Donaldson  family with their relations in Kent. 

Mattie again, holding onto his nephew, with his brother-in-law alongside in a very natty pullover. That style  came round in fashion decades later and was especially popular with golfers. 

A wartime snapshot of my husband's Great Aunt Pat  
who served in the Auxiliary Fire Service in Kent

Larking about  - my husband perched on the bike with his older brother. 

 This was taken, perhaps by my aunt,  in the front garden after my parents' wedding in 1938 and is the only photograph I have of my paternal grandfather on the right. 

 A wartime farewell photograph of my father with my mother  Kathleen on the right
 and my Aunt Edith on the  left. 

 Another wartime memory of my parents. 

A family snapshot of my Danson family - with I suspect my mother taking the photograph of her mother, Alice Danson, her younger sister, Peggy in WAAF uniform, brother Billy  and his wife Loui,  with my father in uniform in the middle. 

The back garden was a popular place as a photographic stage - even where drainpipes and a dustbin were the props!
My mother 

I was too young here to remember that kitten.

That cigarette in my father's hand would be much disapproved of now!

I am looking rather glum here in my own little chair 
which was passed down to my daughter and granddaughter. 

Squinting in the sunlight.

My uncle Fred must have been the photographer here with a lovely snapshot of my parents, my aunt Fran in the middle, and my little brother (looking very cute) and myself.  I seem to have my pigtails up on top of my head Austrian style - decorated with a bow.  Not forgetting the period detail of the cars. 


Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity 
to share their family history through photographs. 

Click HERE  for more memories from fellow bloggers   

Friday, 10 March 2017

A Favourite Book: Sepia Saturday

In  this  week's detailed prompt photograph, it was the row of books on the bookshelf that caught my eye and made me think of a favourite book of both my mother and grandmother. 

A 1899 edition of "Pride and Prejudice"  by Jane Austen was a prized possession of my mother and one passed down to her from her own mother.  I remember it sitting in the glass doored bookcase in my grandfather's house and it was a treat to look at it and turn over the delicate line drawings, protected by tissue paper.  

My grandmother Alice Danson, nee English (1884-1945).  She married my grandfather William in 1907 at St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. 

My mother - Kathleen Weston, nee Danson (1908-1999)

A much older Alice with her three daughters, Peggy, Edith and Kathleen. 
Not forgetting sons Harry and Billy. 

"Pride and Prejudice" remains one of my favourite books
remembered too in the many television adaptation  over the decades. 


Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity 
to share their family history through photographs. 

Click HERE for more memories from fellow bloggers

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Hats on for our Pets: Sepia Saturday

What to choose from this week's prompt picture?  
A verandah, railings, rocks, sailor suit collar, fancy hat, 
a close family trio or loving pets?   

I opted for a parade of hats and dogs. 


Enjoy an early 1900's fashion display of hats worn by 
my cousin's Oldham family of Blackpool, Lancashire.

Below my mother Kathleen Danson and her sister Edith in 1938. 

 Loving Pets  
Our daughter was 5 years old and Crufts Dog Championships Show was on television - how could we resist that combination. The result by the summer was Beauty a golden cocker spaniel became part of the family.

 Dog and Daughter, both  a wee bit older

It was a sad time when we lost Beauty at the age of nine, and we said we would not go through that again. But surreptiously we were all looking at adverts in the local papers, and within a month we had Colleen - a 2 year old gentle blue roan cocker. Somewhere amongst all that dark fur, there were two liquid eyes. 

Colleen died suddenly at seven years old at a time when there were other stresses in the family. We could not imagine family life without a dog and that had to be another cocker spaniel. 

So within a few months we had puppy Casmir (Cass) - an orange roan cocker - she had such a distinctive colouring, she became well known around our small town and lived to the grand age of 13.

I always felt that if Cass starred in a Disney dog cartoon, she would be the Princess. Judge for yourself here! 

And Finally - A Family Trio, Hats and a Pet come together, as we braved  the elements on the crossing to the Isle of Mull off the west coast of Scotland - all the other ferry passengers had gone for cover!


Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity 
to share their family history through photographs. 

Click HERE for more memories from fellow bloggers 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Paintbrush at the Ready: Sepia Saturday

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph shows a group of artists in a painting class outdoors.  It immediately brought back memories of artists we had seen in that most artistic  of cities  - Paris.  

An artist on the Left Bank of Paris looking across the Seine.

Artist at work in the Tuileries Gardens -
the place where Parisians celebrated, met, promenaded, and relaxed.[1]

Thanking of painting though, also made me think of My Aunt  - Edith Danson.   She played a key role in my life and was a teacher, traveller, a great talker and my godmother.  She was also a talented lady in embroidery and art. 


 Edith was born 2nd September 1907, followed just a year and a week  later by my mother, Kathleen, born on 8th September 1908, daughters of William and Alice Danson of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.   They remained very close as sisters  and most of  the photographs I have of Aunt Edith show her almost always with my mother. 

Edith was a keen amateur artist, joining a group of like minded enthusiasts on painting holidays (as in the prompt photograph). Here is a small but favourite work on display in my home. 


And finally - little granddaughter engrossed in her painting!


Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity 
to share their family history through photographs. 

Click HERE for more artistic memories  from fellow bloggers 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Recognition for an Ancestor - Alan Dower Blumlein

In October 2013, I published a post about  my cousin's distant connection with the 20th century scientist and engineer Alan Dower Blumlein.   

This week, articles in the press announced that Alan was to receive a posthumous Grammy Award for inventing stereo sound and transforming the way we listen to music.  Discussions are also in hand to feature his life on film.    

** A Grammy Award (originally called Gramophone Award), or Grammy, is an honour awarded by The Recording Academy to recognize outstanding achievement in the mainly English-language music industry. They are presented annually n a glittering Los Angeles ceremony. 

Read Alan Blumlein's story below in my original post. 

You can stumble across some amazing stories when you start to delve into sidelines of your family history.  

Such was the experience of my cousin, Stuart Smith  who discovered that he was related to a man described as "possibly the greatest electronic engineer of the 20th century" - Alan Dower Blumlein.

Stuart's  great grandmother was Isabel Edward from Banchory, Aberdeenshire.  and Isabel's sister Jesse married  the Rev. William Dower in 1865.  William was appointed by the London Missionary Society as a Wesleyan Missionary in South Africa and he and his new wife Jesse set sail there  in 1865. 

  Isabella Edward  and her husband John Ingram Smith (on the right)
with William  Dower and  Isabella's sister Jesse Edward  (left)

William and Jesse had  family of eight - four daughters and four sons.   

Daughter Jesse  Edward Dower married a German mining engineer Semmy Joseph Blumlein of Jewish descent. They settled in Britain, with Semmy taking  out citizenship in 1903, a year after the birth of their son Alan Dower Blumlein.  

Alan Dower Blumlein  (1902-1942)   was to make an impact on our life as we know it today.   He  invented stereo sound and the modern TV system while working for EMI during the 1930s and made major contributions in the field  of telecommunications, electrical measurements,  radar, and electronics generally. He was a remarkably versatile and prolific engineer who produced 128 patents in a working lifetime of just eighteen years.   

Alan Blumlein's  death in 1942 at the young age of 38,  was shrouded in secrecy.  He was killed  during the secret trial of an airborne radar system, then under development. when the Halifax bomber he was on crashed in Hertfordshire, with no survivors.  Wartime security meant his death  was not made public for another three years - no obituary appeared in the press and no tributes were made.

It was not until 1999 that Robert Charles Alexander wrote a definitive biography of Alan Dower Blumlein, to redress the balance and recognise the achievements of a  man  "overlooked by history

In 2008 BBC Radio 4 acknowledged this unassuming scientist in "The Man Who Invented Stereo".

With grateful thanks to Stuart for providing these photographs.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Sepia Saturday: Everyday Hats

This week's prompt photograph shows a busy  urban scene in Europe,  with children feeding pigeons in a square.   But my eye was drawn   to the two women on the far right.     It appears to be a sunny day, but for them  wearing a hat is essential  wear for the older  woman.  So here is a selection of everyday hats  from my family collection - I have deliberately avoided those worn for weddings.

1930's-40;s  - 
Hats, gloves and fox furs the fashionHats were generally small, but often embellished with decorative bows or feathers. Fox furs were the aspirational accessory for many women from an ordinary background and are proudly worn here by members of my extended family.  I remember my mother keeping hers wrapped in tissue paper  in a box in her wardrobe  I didn''t like touching it - those beady eyes in the head were unnerving. 

My mother and aunt - Kathleen and Edith Danson,  Both sisters had an interest in fashion, and made their own clothes on an old treadle sewing machine - their house  did not have electricity until the 1950's.  

Kathleen Danson  - again with a fur wrap.

My grandmother Alice Danson, nee English

  My husband's mother - Ivy Donaldson, nee White

My  husband's grandmother Alice White, nee Armitage 

Below - Patti and Ivy White - daughters of Alice above.  

Most of these photographs date from the 1960's,  when my mother and husband's mother  would have been 60 years old.   At a time when fashion was changing rapidly   and I was wearing mini skirts, the older generation still  wore  for everyday occasions hats that  we now reserve for formal wear.  Turbans seemed to be the main fashion style here. 
For a visit to the Zoo 

For a summer outing

For a visit to the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh

For my graduation - so more of a formal occasion

 For a Sunday afternoon run in the car 

Meanwhile  for me, hats were purely practical - for keeping warm in winter and providing shade in (hot) sunmmers.  


Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers 
       to share their family history through photographs

 Click HERE to see what other bloggers have spotted in this week's prompt.