Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sepia Saturday #40


Here in the US, Labor Day (the last holiday of the summer) is over and school is in full swing. In honor of the new school year, today's Sepia Saturday post contains photos of family members when they were young and in school.

My mother, Helen Royer Shaffer, circa 1930 (?) on what I assume is a pony belonging to a roving photographer. From what I've read, these traveling photographers roamed neighborhoods well into the 1960s, taking photos of children. In later decades the photographers apparently provided cowboy costumes for the children to wear. Into the 1930s, the photographers made tintypes, which were faster to produce and made available for parents to purchase right on the spot. I'm not sure that's the case here -- my mother had many copies of this photo, all with their own stand-up cardboard frame. Is it possible to produce copies like that from a tintype? Did the photographers visit schools to take these photos as well?

I adore the expression on my father's face! Little Johnny looks like he's trying to be serious, but it's all he can do not to laugh. I saw this expression many times throughout my life, most often when Dad was caught being "naughty." I'm guessing that he was probably seven years old in this picture, and it's the only time I've ever seen a photo taken at a school desk. Makes me wonder if it wasn't something the teacher had done, rather than the school. Nonetheless, it's a darling photo and one I cherish.

Here's one of my grandmother, Sarah Felmy Shaffer, with her schoolmates. (She's on the far left, second row from the bottom, in the white pinafore.) She looks to be about nine years old in the photo, which would date it somewhere around 1906. I'm not sure if the little girl in the first row with the white pinafore is a relative or not. I know it's not her sister, Mary; if Sarah is nine in this photo then Mary would have only been three. Plus, my grandmother's name is the only one on the back of the photo, written in my great grandmother's hand, which leads me to believe Sarah is the only one in the picture. The photo was taken by U.N. Eisenhauer in Millmont, PA.

Finally, just because it's only fair ...

Me -- first grade, 1971. The photographer made me say "pickles." I whistled when I said it.

For more great Sepia Saturday posts, clicky clicky => HERE!


  1. Each one of these photos is worthy of it's own post. They're all precious, not least the one of you in first grade! And I always love the pony photos.

  2. Oh, that expression of your dad's. My father had an expression, too, trying to not smile or laugh, hiding something, a cat with a canary expression. Don't you treasure seeing it when he was young?!

    Your grandmother's photograph is wonderful. I wonder how many different classes were in the school. There a great variety of ages in the students. I can definitely see 2 teachers.

    You look just the same! (Well, a little older....) It's funny you remember what he asked you to say and how it sounded when you said it.

  3. All of these photos are wonderful; your mother is lovely and I can see a likeness to you and the one of your father is very cute, he sounds like he was a fun dad. Your grandmother's school group photo is special, I love the clothes of the time. And your photo is cute, you look so bright.

  4. You can sure see "you" in that first grade picture. What a cutie. I enjoyed the other photos, too. I have an art teacher with the same name as your mother, Helen Shaffer- I think her name has one "f" though. Her married name is Helen Shafer Garcia. She's a fantastic artist.

  5. That's amazing you can remember what the photographer said. Wow. Thanks for sharing this post and thanks for visiting my crazy blog.

  6. Thanks, Christine!

    Nancy ~ I do treasure seeing that expression. Makes me realize that Dad was up to mischief his whole life! I have a pic of my parents when they're in their 60s, and he's got that same expression on his face. Why? Because he made bunny ears behind my mom's head! No idea how many classes were in Grandma's school, but I know it was very rural, so there couldn't have been too many families. And not only am I now older, but I have all my teeth!

    Marilyn ~ Thanks! I lvoe the clothes, too.

    B&N ~ Yes, it's definitely me. Apparently, Helen Shaffer isn't an uncomon name for that generation. Imagine my mother's surprise when she opened the newspaper one day and found out that she'd died! Of course, closer reading of the obit showed it was a woman from another town, but it was still a shock for her.

    Hey, Crazy, I have no idea how I remember that. I think he was having trouble getting me to smile because of my missing teeth and this was a last resort. Loved your blog!

  7. Each photo is unique and tells a story. Your mother looks so cute on this pony. Before I read I thought she was riding to school, like it was usual here in Australia when the children had a far way to go. Your father caught at a special moment; the school with the assembled children is very precious and a beautifully kept photo.
    How very cute is the last one. I have always adored redheads; I wanted to marry one but it happened differently!

  8. What a nice collection of school photos. I don't think I have a single photo of my parents in school. I had never thought about that before. Enjoyed your sepia Saturday. Pickles, huh?

  9. a lovely selection! and i sure like what you said about your dad. seems quite the character!!

    now, say "pickle"!!!