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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Wood for Fences, Faces, Fire and Fun:

"All Things In Wood" is my response to this week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph that shows an old   American urban tenement with wooden balconies,  which along with a whirly washing line creates a study in angles and lines.   

No such vintage images exist in my collection, so  I have chosen to focus on wood for fences, faces, fires and fun,  with memories of holidays, home and family. 
Do  read on!   


 A timber yard in Ruhpolding, Bavaria - looking across the meadows to the church,

 A typical Austrian chalet in Kaprun, with the wooden balcony, shutters and fencing. 

A typical Cape Cod cottage, with a picket fence  
on the Island of Nantucket, in New England. 

I have worked in tourist information centres in the Scottish  Borders,  so this centre, appropriately built of wood,  in the Berchtesgarten  National Park in Bavaria  appealed to m, as in keeping with the landscape. 

Christchurch, Cambridge which I attended whilst working in the USA, 1965-66.
Now designated a National Historic Site, Christchurch  was founded in 1759 and built in the  traditional New England clapboard style.  There is a beautiful and elegant Georgian simplicity to its interior. During the Amerasian Revolution,  the church was attacked by dissenting colonials for its Tory leanings, but George and  Martha Washington attended a service here.

 A reconstruction of the old wooden North Bridge at Concord, Massachusetts,  where in 1775 local Minutemen fired the first shot in the American War of Independence and forced the British to retreat back to Boston. 

A  covered wooden bridge in New Hampshire

A  replica of the defensive wooden fort at the Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts, on the site where the Pilgrim Fathers landed in 1620, and built their settlement. The fort is part of a living museum created in 1947 to tell  the story of the Plymouth Colony.

Wooden decking, posts and boathouse on Marthe's Vineyard, Massachusetts 


In St. Gilgen Austria, 
a carved wooden balcony with a lovely image of a little dog - or is it a cat?

 A carved figure outside a shop in in Austria. 
"Schnitz Verkstatt"  means "woodcarving workshop" 

 Owls carved on a bench at Centre Parcs, Whinfell Forest, Cumbria. 


Helping Daddy unload logs for the fire - my little granddaughter  

Below -  granddaughter is older but trees have an immediate appeal. 
Photographs taken in the Scottish Borders and Whinfell Forest, Cumbria 




Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers 
       to share their family histo
by featuring each week at photographic prompt


Click HERE to read the line other bloggers  
 have taken with this week's prompt 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

"When I first put this uniform on,,,,,,,,,," - Sepia Saturday

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt shows a group of schoolgirls in white blouses, ties and longish  skirts, c.1910'-20s   

I have an ideal match that I have  shown before, but I can't resist showing again!

The girl second left with the long plait is my great aunt Jenny Danson (1897-1986)  of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.  She worked in the local post office and I was told that this was a group of her work colleagues all dressed in the  same skirts and blouses   Jenny had written their names on the reverse -  Gerty Roskell, Jenny Danson, Annie Jolly, Margaret Porter, Madge O' Rourke, and Edith Jackson.   

A family story related how whilst on duty a War Office telegram came through  for Jenny's  widowed mother Maria Danson.  Fearing the worst news, Jenny was allowed to run home with it,  to discover that brother Frank had been wounded and was in hospital in Malta, but recovering  - Jenny  had 8 brothers, five of whom were serving in the army in the First World War.  


The prompt photograph made me look back at my own life in Uniform and immediately came to mind the lines of the song in  Gilbert and Sullivan's opera "Patience":                                            
 "When I first put this uniform on
                                             I said as a looked in the glass.... "

There was not a strict uniform at my primary school, but I was desperate to wear a gymslip.  My mother did not like them, but eventually I got one handed down from my cousin Jose,  and wore  the school tie and the red girdle round my waist, feeling I had stepped out of one of the school stories I loved to read.

When I started secondary school, in Blackpool,  the uniform had just had its first major change for years.   For the first two years, though,  we wore short pleated navy "Windsor Woolie" skirts,  with braces - made by a local firm, and still very "little girlish".    I certainly cannot see any self-respecting  12 year old wearing such a style  today!  Unlike the pudding basin hats  or berets of other schools in the town,  we felt very smart and modern  in a  pillbox style hat  - navy with a narrow sky blue band  round it. a fringe at the side and a metal school badge.   I was so proud of that hat!  My mother said she got seasick sewing the school summer dress - it was sky blue again,  highly patterned with with lots of white sea motifs and waves.   We moved across country and my next school uniform seemed extremely dowdy in comparison  - long navy pleated skirts, and a  navy beret which sat like a flat pancake on my head and you were expected to wear at all times to and from school.  Unfortunately  I have no photograph of myself in these school uniforms.

Shop jobs during my university holidays meant wearing a shapeless, dowdy, usually grey  overall, circa 1950s style.  It was always far too long for me, so the priority was to get it home after my first day and shorten  the hem - after all this was the 1960's and the era of the miniskirt!

Onto my work in tourist information centres in the Scottish Borders - it was the 1980's when kilts were then a fashion statement, so for the first time at work  I wore an attractive  uniform -  a kilt in the mid blue/green of the Douglas tartan.   However kilts became too expensive as a uniform item, and we later had pencil skirts - but still in tartan.  Men on the staff were just given a tartan tie, so the women had the better deal. 

Uniform  fashions have changed so much  and the trend now is very casual - purple polo shirts and grey fleeces - with no sign of tartan.  Whoever chose grey must have been colour blind  - to think  that it provides a good welcoming first impression to visitors,  when so much of Scotland is often sitting  under grey skies!   I am glad I worked  in earlier times in a uniform that made me feel smart and professional.  

Onto wearing a uniform for leisure  - my first being as a Brownie  and wearing the brown tunic dress,  and a yellow folded tie,  which very practically could become a bandage or sling  - I was never called upon to use it in that way.   In the Guides,  I  graduated to a blue blouse worn with my navy school skirt,  and  red folded tie, as I was in the Scarlet Pimpernel Patrol. 

Being  a junior dancer in Staining Gala - an annual community event in my village - gave the pleasure of a different "uniform"  each year .  

Here we gathered in the church hall for a photograph, prior to our outdoor performance.   I am the little one  fifth back on the left.  We were obviously very well trained, all  standing the same way - heels together, toes turned out,  and skirts held out at the same angle.   Our dresses were apple greens satin,  with silver cardboard headdresses and our shepherd crooks garlanded with crepe paper flowers. For me, the  worst aspect was the torture the night before of having my hair put into rags, in the hope I would end up with ringlets the next day.  

Looking back, this was c.1952,  not long after the war, with people still having to put up with rationing, but the gala days were a great tribute to community efforts, and my mother, as the local dressmaker, was heavily involved in making the costumes.   I was delighted to wear this dress as my uniform for the day,  and  which was  later destined to be my party dress for the year. 

Back to the white blouses and dark skirts of the prompt photograph:   Below is  the alto section of the choir I sang in for nearly 40 years - the Roxburgh Singers -  I am on the back row - second left.  This photograph was taken before  our performance of Handel's  "The Messiah",  c.1978 - the first time it had been performed in my small town for a very long time, so quite a momentous occasion.

Two decades later, (progress is slow in the Borders!),   it  was decided that our long black skirts, white blouses of our own style and varying shades of whiteness   were not smart enough and we needed to up our game.  The result was  outfit of  still the black skirt,  black skirt,  and a black camisol top worn  with an over blouse of  jade green - I was happy as I jade green was one of my favourite colours. But what happened?  No sooner had we all bought these, then  amateur choirs starting adopting the more casual look of black trousers for women and self-coloured long sleeve blouses.    But we kept our formal look, which is still worn today! 

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

 Click HERE to read other bloggers'  "take"  on this week's prompt below.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A Church of Family Memories: Sepia Saturday

This week's photographic  prompt shows three choirboys in their white surpluses. 

Choirboys mean Churches,  so I am turning to what I regard as my ancestral homeland - the Church of St. Chad's in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashir

St. Chad's Church in springtime with its carpet of crocuses. 
A  photograph taken by my Uncle, Harry Rawcliffe  Danson

St. Chad’s Church, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire  is at the heart of my family history, as Dansons were baptised, married and buried there down the generations from John Danson, born 1736, son of Peter. My parents married at St. Chad's in 1938 , my father sang in the choir and my brother and I were baptised there.

Tradition dates back the church to 669. It was dedicated to St. Chad, a Northumbrian missionary who became Bishop of York and then Bishop of Mercia.  In 1349 the Black Death struck, with the vicar of Poulton amongst those succumbing to the plague. Registers date from 1591, with the oldest part of the present church, the Tower dating from before 1638. A major rebuilding took place around 1751. 
Inside St. Chad's. 

John Danson's daughter Jennet married John Brining,
whose family boxed pew,   dated 1778,  is in the  gallery.  
A large board at the back of the church is inscribed with the names of chuchwardens from the 17th century onwards, including the names of my g.g.g.g. grandfather John Danson (1736-1821) and his son Henry Danson (1767-1839) and their connections through marriage John and Thomas Bryning.    (Impossible to get a decent readable photoaph of it)

Margaret Danson married into the Brownbill family of local clock-makers,  
responsible in 1865 for the new tower clock  
My grandmother Alice English (below() was confiremd at St. Chad's in 1904 
and presented with this prayer book. 

The War Memorial  includes the name of George Danson, my great uncle, 
killed in 1916 on the Somme. George (below) also sang in the choir here -
 as revealed in his  obituary in the local press. 

Wedding of my parents John Weston & Kathleen Danson (left) with Edith Danson & Charles Weston - 1938 

Wedding of my Aunt Peggy (Margaret Olwen Danson), my mother's  youngest sister, to Harry Constable,  1948.  Shortly afterwards they emigrated to Australia. 


Although I moved away from Poulton when I was 13 years old, St. Chad's Church remains a fond place in my memory. I recall my last visit in early springtime when bell ringers were practising and the carpet of crocuses covered the churchyard - a beautiful part of my heritage.
And here is the only photograph I have of a choir boy - my father's elder brother Fred Weston, c.1915 in his choir robes at St. Mary's Church, Warwick.

My father too joined the church choir at the age of 7, and  he continued as a choir member  throughout his life wherever he lived - but unfortunately there is no such photograph.  

Copyright © 2017 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


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

Click HERE for this week's memories from fellow bloggers  


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Sandy Moments : Sepia Saturday

This week's prompt photograph shows a fun beach scene, with what looks like a headless body  in the sand with a smiling little's boy's head alongside. 

The photograph below of my father and brother, buried in sand,  seems to fit the bill admirably. 

More beach photos

My brother looks a bit disgruntled here.  You can tell this must be the 1950 's - these were the days before the anti-smoking  campaigns and  my father is happy to enjoy his cigarette.  And why am I wearing an unflattering  bathing hat,  as I could barely swim? I suppose to keep dry my long hair which was  usually in plaits,  

Digging for victory in this wartime photograph.

Exploring the Sand!  

My little brother in a fetching knitted costume. 

My cousin fielding a giant ball.

Taking a ride!

On Blackpool Beach

A brief bit of fun in the midst of war  - my Uncle Harry in North Africa   

Enjoying Ourselves - even in a howling wind on the Isle of Iona - May 2004. 

And Finally - The peace and pleasure of a lonely beach on Iona - July 2016


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

Click HERE for this week's memories from fellow bloggers  


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Hats off to Women at Work - Sepia Saturday

PThis week's Sepia Saturday prompt photogrpah show a smiling woman, with her tied up in a turban scarf,  in the workplace wielding a power drill. 

I  remember as a young child  my mother putting up her hair in a similar scarf on wash day - always a Monday - we were traditional in the north.   This was the days before washing machines, not even a twin tub never mid an automatic.   She did the washing by hand and then got out the mangle  to feed the soaking clothes etc. through it to wring out the water. If I was at home on holiday I helped feed the sheets through, before  everything was hung outside to dry. 

All of this made wash-day an arduous task, so Monday tea was left overs - cold meat from the Sunday roast, served with chips. 

Needless to say  no photograph exists of my mother  on this task.  Family snapshot were strictly for recording leisure activities, not housework.  

Continuing  my headgear theme, here are some more photographs of women  in the workplace, wearing hats of one kind or another.  

A World War One Land Girl  - Becky Bennet 

This photograph was in the large  collection of my great aunt Jennie Danson  (1897-1989) of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.    I know nothing else about it. 

 My husband's aunt in the uniform of a  Land Girl and his mother  as an Air Raid Warden in World War Two. 

The Women's Land Army  was a British civilian organisation created during the First and Second World Wars,  so women could work in agriculture, replacing men called up to the military.

Air Raid Wardens patrolled the streets during the blackout to check that no lights were visible.  They also reported on bomb damage and sought  the help of the emergency services.

My Aunt Peggy (left) with a WAAF friend

In World War Two my aunt  Peggy Danson  served in the WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force), with a note In the family photograph album that she was  in a Barrage Balloon Squadron in Hull, on the east coast of Yorkshire.  

Balloon barrages were a passive form of defence designed to force enemy raiders to fly higher, and thus bomb much less accurately.  The barrage balloon was simply a bag of lighter-than-air gas attached to a steel cable anchored to the ground. The balloon could be raised or lowered to the desired altitude by a winch
at times this could be dangerous work.

I could not resist showing again two images from my local heritage group, Auld Earlston,  as they fit my theme this week so well 

 Earlston Munition Workers in World War Two. 

Bondagers in their distinctive costume

Bondagers were female farm workers in south east Scotland and Northumberland. As part of their husband's contract (or bond) with the farmer, he would undertake to provide another worker (usually his wife) to help as and when required. The women wore a  dress with bonnet, described as the "last remaining peasant costume" in Britain.  The custom of bondagers lasted well into the 20th century. 


Finally I came across this quotation recently on Pinterest and thought it  was worth considering in relation to our own ancestors.   With thanks to www.ponderabout.com 

He who works with his hands is a labourer

He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman

he who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist.  


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

Click HERE for more memories from fellow bloggers