Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How often does a car appear in the photos of your ancestors? What did it mean to them?

Ina Mae Pierce (1903-1977), right, poses with two of her friends in front of a large car. Ina Mae appears to be a teenager in this photo, making the date no later than around 1921. The young women's clothes and hairstyles make it clear that 1920s fashions had made their way to rural Wilmer.

Note the camera being held by the young woman in the middle. This camera, or one very much like it, belonged to the Pierce family and probably took many of their family photos. It is a simple box camera with a range viewfinder on the side. It required 120 film and still took good photos into the 1950s and '60s. I own this camera today.

Cars in the 1920s were more than just a prop for photos. They liberated young women, and men for that matter, from the restrictions of parents and their neighborhoods.

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.

Authorities and parents worried that young people, especially women, were finding the wrong kind of freedom and excitement in cars. More than one official fretted aloud that unmarried young men and women used cars to have sex.

How often does a car appear in the photos of your ancestors? How important was the car to their lives?

Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

  1. My grandfather had a family car that looked just like this one. I was just archiving a photo of it the other day. My father, a young boy, is in the back seat standing up and facing the rear of the car. And his sisters, my aunts, did have "hairdos" just like these, as did my mother.

    By the 1940s, cars looked a little sturdier. My father bought our family's first car when he returned from WWII in 1946. I have pictures of it, also.

    Thanks for bringing back memories!