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?
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.
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?
One way to tell how important the car was to your ancestors is to see how often they included it in family photos.
In the above photo, Charles Pierce (1934-2008), son of W.T. Pierce (1910-1983) smiles proudly while perched on the hood of his father's car. They appear to be visiting at the Wilmer, Alabama, farm of W.T.'s parents, Napoleon Bonaparte "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964) and Julia Lavinia Moody (1886-1965).
We tend to forget how much the coming of the automobile changed life in rural America. Before cars, any travel to major markets took a lot of time and effort. Cars were symbols of freedom of all kinds.
No longer did you have to take the time to hitch a horse up to a wagon. You could jump behind the wheel of a car, turn on the ignition and be off. Trips to the local stores could be made faster, providing more free time for having fun.
Cars were easy to operate and reliable. And fast. With speed came excitement. Is it any wonder that even the old family jalopy often was included in the family photos?
Photographer's imprint on the back of the photo is McGill, Mobile, Alabama, Dec. 20, 1935.
How much information can you get from a photo? You have to combine what you know with what you see. Look at the above photo as an example.
This photograph may have been snapped after a church service. How can I tell? The sailor is holding a cardboard fan typical of those used while people were seated in the pews on warm Sundays. Certainly the church would not have been air conditioned at this time period. Another sign that they may have just left church is that all of the women are well dressed.
The fan, the white sailor's uniform and the women but one in light-colored, short-sleeve dresses point to it being either spring or summer.
Beatrice Pierce (1921-1993) is fourth from the left and her oldest sister Ina Mae Pierce (1903-1977) is next to her, fifth from the left. The names of the others in the photo are not known. Ina Mae married in February 1928, so this photo was taken sometime before then.
The photo may have been taken on one of the unpaved streets of Wilmer, Ala., where the Pierce sisters lived. Or it is possible that the group had driven to the Port City of Mobile and it was taken on one of the city's unpaved streets. A large building can be seen at the end of the street in the background.
Dressing little boys as miniature sailors has
been popular ever since a 4-year-old Prince Albert appeared in a child’s
version of the uniforms worn by the crew of the Royal Yacht in 1846. By the 1870s, parents were dressing both boys and girls in sailor outfits. Cartoon characters such as Popeye and Donald Duck, who wore sailor suits, gave the fashion another boost
in the 1930s.
In the above photo, a young Raymond Lamont Pierce (1923-1981), son of Mobile County farming parents, poses for his portrait in his fashionable sailor suit and shoes. The photo is probably from the early 1930s.
The photo and clothing are a sign that although Raymond's parents N.B. "Bonie" Pierce and his wife Julia L. Moody may have had to struggle to raise their family, it was a successful struggle in many ways.
Do you have photos of boys and girls from your family's history wearing sailor suits? Does the fashion reveal anything about your ancestors?