Sepia Saturday: The Irish Side

I was amazed a couple of years ago to discover that my paternal grandmother Jessie Orr Bentley was descended from a family of rabid Irish (Country Antrim) nationalists, including William "Remember" Orr (1766-1797 -- hanged by the English in 1797 for swearing two soldiers as members of the United Irishmen) and his nephew William "Rebel" Orr, both of whom are well known in story and song. Google 'em!

The Orrs eventually migrated to a slightly less English New Brunswick in the 1820s or so, and thence steadily westward through Nebraska until they safely hit Cripple Creek, Colorado, where my grandmother was born in 1887, her father having gotten involved in the local industry, mining.

Here is the first known photo I have of Jessie, in high school, looking placidly angelic in the back between two young men. All the girls' hair is well put-up and prim!

This portrait was taken probably around the same time, which would have been around 1905. Rather "Gibson Girl"!

In this, the next chronological photo I have of Jessie, quite a bit of time seems to have passed. Assuming this is one of her own children, that would place this between 1911 and 1921. If closer to the latter, she would have been about 34 years old. The baby does not appear to be amused by the photographic process.

Here are a couple of Jessie on the farm in Livonia with my father and his younger sister, circa 1923.

Those are big plants, whatever they are! Sunflowers?

A matronly Jessie and natty husband George (who'd taught her in high school) some years later, gussied up beside their house, with The Marmon in the background.

Here are a couple of shots from the early Forties. Unfortunately she suffered for many years with TB and died in 1946.

Only recently my cousin unexpectedly provided me with this postwar shot of Jessie's mother, Louise "Muvver" Orr, looking rather ancient (born 1867) with another grandson, Ken.

Apocryphally Louise was related somehow to Nathan "one life to live for my country" Hale, who was also executed by the English, on American soil this time around; alas, I have been unable to substantiate it, but it would nicely round out the patriotic fervor in which my heritage seems to be steeped.


Theme Thursday: Bikes

I was happy to see this week's theme, as I have lots of this subject to choose from.

In the winter and spring of 2007 we were in Italy.
I'd been shooting bicycles for weeks. Bikes were everywhere -- many, very old-fashioned, tended to be ridden by humped crones in anachronistic black dresses with heavy stockings on their rebar-like legs, the day's groceries in the wicker basket in front.

Then I happened upon this amazing scene in Lucca, Tuscany. Click for more detail of this fresco!

Every town had its own lovely multiciolored and skeletal bikes leaning against all kinds of shops and ancient walls, or standing balanced precariously against low curbs.

Here is another of my favorites of this series, from Florence (Firenze). The plaque on the wall marks the high-water level from the 1966 flood.


Stumping Through Lakemont

More Easter Island-like remnants of Bellevue old growth before it was felled in the 19th century to clear the ground for the coal mines and mining camps. They all have distinct personalities.

This one still shows the sawmarks.

This one seems to have antennae. Homage to The Slug?

This one seems to be defiantly flexing its one remaining arm. Only a flesh wound!

The Hollow Old One.

The termite's buffet.

The porcupine.

In case you missed it, more stumps here!


Arbor Day: Daphne

Spotted in the Bellevue woods on Arbor Day...

"Since you cannot be my bride, you shall at least be my tree. My hair, my lyre, my quiver shall always be entwined with you, O laurel." (Apollo, from Ovid's "Metamorphoses ")



Detroit Wheels

Another sepia Saturday...
When I was growing up I became aware of the special relationship my father, Nelson, had with his cars. They all had names, for one thing, all taken from the "Uncle Wiggily" children's book series. For years, the secondhand family Chevy (1955, faded blue) was known as "Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy the Muskrat Lady Housekeeper." I did not find this unusual at the time.

Here are a few shots of my father on his family farm in Livonia, Michigan (near Detroit), in the 1920s.

He was born in 1918, just before the end of the Great War. Here he is in his buggy with his bear.

His first car. Note the old ad on the side of the chicken shed. I understand that many drivers in those days wore outfits like this to keep the mud from splashing their trousers...

His first tricycle almost looks homemade, but he certainly seems happy with it. He appears to be in the side yard of the Bentley Bros. store (see previous Sepia Saturday entry).

Here's a slightly later model. His baby sister Margaret seems to have inherited the old one. In the background is the International delivery truck, "Bosco," that belonged to the store.

I have no idea who's behind the wheel. Perhaps Uncle Clyde's wife Gladys. Through high school my father drove eggs, milk, and live turkeys for Clyde (who was the Turkey King) to customers around Wayne County.

But Nelson for now really had his sights set on the Marmon.

By the time he got to drive it, it was knackered, and among other things had no brakes but reportedly required you to throw a concrete block tied to a rope out of the window in order to stop. I don't know whether he had a name for it, but "The Bad Pipsissewa" would probably not have been inappropriate.


Taking the Long View

Meditation on the nature of time after a trip to the Pacific...

Some images courtesy of www.CoverBrowser.com, hardcandyspace.ning.com, www.tyeliorn-bretagne.net. Decrepit pilings at Tokeland WA by SB, 2010.


Signage of a Seaside Town

A few scenes from impoverished Grays Harbor County, Washington State. I've been going there on and off for forty-plus years, and little has changed, although the recession has clearly hurt a lot.

The ironically named New Hope Cafe, Westport

Regulations at the (empty) RV park, Westport

Hyperbolic adverts, Grayland

Main street renovation dreams, Westport

Remnants of a past boom, Aberdeen


Arbor Day

Saturday morning at the local Earth Day / Arbor Day fest.
For more photos, see Red Apple Elegy and the Sustainable Bellevue Facebook page.

Here's the wheelbarrow brigade all primed.

Soon the Mayor and other functionaries would give speeches.

Setting up one of the booths.

The arborists' weapons of choice.

The wetland.

The woodland path.

What does the VFW have to do with the price of baloney in Egypt?


Sepia Saturday: The Grandfather I Never Knew

Although I saw quite a bit of my maternal grandfather, my dad's father died when I was a year old, so aside from the odd photo of their family back in Michigan, I never met him. However, my father wrote copiously (very copiously, if that's not redundant) about his own childhood, and so I got more details and a pretty good picture of what George Nelson Bentley (same name as my dad) was like. Eventually through my genealogical truffling I got some more photos from the East Coast side of the family.

George had been a school teacher and principal in Livonia, Michigan (and a brief stint in Colorado, where he met and maried one of his high school students). He was later a member of the school board and general upstanding citizen, and the above photo is from a Bentley High School tribute.

This is a youngish George (the tall one) with his brother Clyde (a very colorful character also to be immortalized in my father's writing).

George in Cripple Creek.

Upon returning to the Detroit area George and Clyde went into business for awhile.

Eventually Clyde took over and relocated the business, and this was a landmark for decades.