Monday, September 29, 2014

Why Include Only Some Children in Family Photos?

Wilson Taft "W.T." Pierce (1910-1983), on the left, and his brother Cecil Alvy Pierce (1907-1975) pose together in this studio photo from around 1920, judging by the ages they appear to be.

This tugboat backdrop appears in other Pierce photographs as well.

W.T. and Cecil were sons of  N.B. "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964) and Julia L. Moody (1886-1965)  of Wilmer, Ala.

Bonie and Julia had nine children, seven of them born before 1920.

Why would the couple choose to have a studio photo made of only two of their children? Perhaps it was a special occasion, such as a baptism.

Do you come from a large family? Did your parents have studio photos made of only some of their children at a time? Why?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Do You Have a Brother or Sister You Were Close To?

Did you have a brother or sister who you were particularly close to? What made you close?

N.B. "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964), on the left above, appears to have been very close to his older brother Cornelius "Neal" Pierce (1874-?), on the right. The two were frequently photographed together.

The brothers may have been close because their mother died giving birth to Bonie. Their father eventually remarried, but family tradition holds that the step mother was harsh and unkind to the young Bonie.

Bonie grew up in Wilmer, Alabama, where he had many relatives, including his grandparents who he eventually moved in with in order to get better treatment.

The date of the photo above isn't known, but the men's attire can help date it. Bonie is wearing a sac suit, waistcoat, thin dark necktie, and high stiff collar. No wedding ring is visible, so this photo was taken before his marriage to Julia L. Moody in 1902.

Neal is also wearing a sac suit, waistcoat, white or light-colored bow tie, and a high stiff collar. There is a watch chain on his vest. Note his large mustache.

The best guess is that this photo was taken around 1900.
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Time for Back-to-School Essay: 'What Did You Do Over the Summer?'

Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer and time for schoolchildren to head back to the classroom. I remember returning to school and being assigned many essays to write "What I did over my summer vacation."

When I was a small child we often drove around the country to visit distant aunts and uncles and see the sights where they lived in Illinois, Ohio, New York and North Carolina. Long before Disney World was built, we drove to Florida tourist spots such as Silver Springs and to visit friends in other places in the Sunshine State. As I got older, we spent summers at Gulf Shores, Alabama, and invited the relatives and friends to visit us.

The two young girls above paused from their summer swimming at Miller's Park long enough to pose for this photo. The girl on the right is Jacqueline Gibson (1928-2003). Jackie, as she was always called, was the daughter of Ina Mae Pierce (1903-1977) and Joseph Gibson (1890-1966).

The girl on the left is identified only by her last name of Hagen. The two girls must have been good friends because they are both wearing the same design of swimsuit.

Miller's Park in western Mobile, Alabama, was a popular swimming spot built by the Bienville Water Works. Behind the girls' legs can be seen the letters "ATE" in the word "WATER" of the company's name. Miller's Park was a wooded area with open spaces and picnic tables.

Today, this swim spot is on the property of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. It stopped being used for swimming about 40 years ago.

The girls above would no doubt have some good stories for their summer vacation stories. Their back-to-school essays and mine would make good family history records, had they been preserved.

Have you written about what you did over your summer vacations? Did you keep the essays?
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Taking a Research Break...

I’m taking a break during the summer from regular blogging in order to focus on researching and writing a history of my Dad’s experiences during World War II.

I still will post as I have time or as the mood strikes me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Do You Come From a Large Family?

These two views of the home of N.B. "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964) and Julia L. Moody (1886-1965) give you some idea of the size of their house in the Pierce Level area of the farming community of Wilmer, Alabama.

The house no longer stands. Many years after the Pierce family moved out of it, the house itself was moved to another location. A fire later destroyed it.

This house is clearly far smaller than the 2,000-square-foot starter homes that many couples today consider as standard. Yet Bonie and Julia reared nine children in this much smaller house outside Wilmer.

Twenty years separated the birth of the oldest and youngest of the children, so they didn't all live in the house at the same. Still you have to wonder how those who were in the house at the same managed to get along without getting on each other's nerves.

Do you come from a large family? Did you all get along? Did you have to share a bathroom?

Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day Salute to My Dad

At about 6:35 a.m. on this morning 70 years ago, my father Ralph E. Poore was hitting Utah Beach with the assault troops of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. He was a 25-year-old sergeant from Laurel, Mississippi.

Although my father landed with the infantry, he was a member of one of three liaison units of the Headquarters Battery of the 29th Field Artillery. Members of the liaison unit acted as forward observers and traveled with the infantry rather than with the firing batteries.

My father survived D-Day and was in nearly continuous combat until February 1945, when he was awarded leave to go home. He returned to Europe the same week Germany surrendered. For his service in the war, my father was awarded the Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart and other medals.

My dad remained in the Army until 1949 when he returned to civilian life and settled in Mobile, Alabama.

Having survived the horrors of front-line combat in World War II, he died of a heart attack in 1976. He was just 57 years old.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Are Your Family Photos From a Studio or a Home Camera?

N.B. "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964) and Julia Moody Pierce (1886-1965) of Wilmer, Alabama, seem to have frequently taken their children to Mobile for formal portrait photos. Clearly they valued having photos of their family and had the money to pay for studio photographs.

Julia and her son Cecil Alvy Pierce (1907-1975) appear in this series of portraits.

Note the photographer's imprint on the front of the card: Boyle, The Kodak Man, 155 Dauphin St., Mobile, Ala.

Photography was only for professionals or the very rich until George Eastman started a company called Kodak in the 1880s. In 1889, he introduced the first Kodak camera with the slogan, “You push the button and we do the rest,” and began the era of amateur home photography.

Yet not until the 1940s did home photography really become affordable for most families.

What type of photos are in your family collection?