Today for Sepia Saturday I offer the only known photos of a man I believe is my father's grandfather, John J. Bentley. However, since the theme for the week involves bicycles, I'll open with this one of my father Nelson with his father George and sister Dorothy, circa 1920. There - that's out of the way! Now:
The memory of my mother, 90, has been getting worse for a couple of years now. About a year ago when we went to the bank to see what was in her safety deposit box, because she couldn't remember, we realized that she had misplaced the key. Rather than having them expensively drill out the lock, we decided opening it wasn't a priority.
Last weekend, as we moved her into an assisted living apartment, I by chance decided to pack one of her jewelry display cases. This necessitated removing and wrapping the knick-knacks within it; I happened to open one of these, a silver box I remember being fascinated by as a child. Inside the box along with some special edition quarters and foreign coins was the missing key. The following day we returned to the bank.
In the safety deposit box, along with various legal and financial papers, was a motley collection of memorabilia only a mother could love: my sister's and my own baby hair in tiny envelopes; everyone's birth certificates; my grandfather's death certificate; my parents' high school and college diplomas... and (jackpot!) several envelopes of old photos of my mother's and father's families - most of which I had never seen.
I am astounded that even though I have been rabidly researching our family for nearly ten years, my mother never mentioned that these photos existed. And at this point neither she nor I know where she got them or how long they were in her possession.
|I place this photo also at 1919-1920; the nipper gripping the steering wheel is my father, the girl his sister Dorothy, who would have been about 8, and despite the dubious quality of the photo I think I can make out the features of my grandmother Jessie Bentley. The vehicle may well have been the delivery truck for the Bentley General Store; note the roll-down sides and what look like oval isinglass wing-windows.|
|A fat, happy baby Nelson enjoying the view from the front porch.|
|This shot, alas with no captions, demands a few guesses... first, that this was taken a few years earlier than the others (say 1913) because the young child (age 3-4?) looks more like Dorothy than baby Nelson, who was born when Dorothy was seven. Secondly, I'm not sure who the middle couple is: my guess is Aunt Gladys and Uncle Clyde, older brother to my grandfather George, on the left behind his wife Jessie, who's wearing a peculiar smirk. Thirdly, I'm assuming that that's Grandma Margaret Bredin. Everyone's all dolled up for this shot; Gladys (if it's Gladys) looks poised to take the next one, with her accordion-style camera.|
|And here's John with Nelson again, this time on what looks like the back stoop. I can't tell what's up with the back door...it looks like a rug is sticking out the bottom (keeping out the sand?)...|