Thursday, September 13, 2007

Steubenville - the gift that keeps on giving


I have found yet another piece of my heritage. I scanned this gem today, and really like this shot. It really is from another place and time, the note on the back of the picture says it is about 1920, when Grandpa was 18, and I believe it is Steubenville. He is the second from the left in this photo, and he looks fabulous what a 'snazzy' outfit (may as well use 1920's vernacular as well). People dressed up for the photographer in those days, not like today where people wear the least wrinkled tee shirt for the shoot. If you expand the picture and look closely, you will see the chain for the gold pocket watch I as offered once (if I did not ever smoke, but of course, I could not accept it in 1972 when I smoked Marlboro Menthols). The neighborhood has the look of a 1920's steel and coal mining town, ramshackle. And of course, mill and mine workers were not paid well before the unions arrived. I cannot imagine they considered themselves as poor. Notice that everybody dressed in their nicest outfits for the photographer, for church, for any special event.

Grandpa was an iconoclast, he could not work for the 'boss man', especially in a mine or steel mill. Dirty and dangerous work was not for him. Physical work was okay, but he wanted to control his destiny. In fact, although from the hills and hollers of rural West Virginia and with only an eighth grade education, he was very refined, a thinker, a highly intelligent man. He looks like a real gentleman above. Like Steubenville's most famous son, Dean Martin, he was someone who was not ever going to work in a pre-OSHA steel mill that probably looked like the pit of Hades when steel was produced then.
I never met the other people here (L-R): Half-sister Essie, his mother Lucinda Yoho (she was mostly of native descent, Cherokee is only a guess), and James, his father, who was killed in a mill accident in 1927. It is the things about this picture that are most intriguing: Did they own or rent, did they have a car, did they even have a radio (first commercial radio broadcast in 1920 on KDKA in nearby Pittsburgh), anything about life in 1920. I am not living in the past, certainly not my past. However, any historic photo just makes me more and more curious…

9 comments:

Odat said...

wow...what a great photo! and interesting story too...You've reminded me that I have so many pics of my Mom and Dad...stuck away in shoe box..I've got to get them out and on the computer...
Peace

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

steubenville OHIO??? wouldn't it be funny if we were related ralph? that's about when my grandpa was there!

smiles, bee

Patti said...

Ralphie: this is an interesting post my dear.

Hey! maybe you and Bee are distant cousins!

sari said...

I love your grandpa's smile! He looks like he's having fun.

I have a picture of my great-grandmother on her wedding day - I think she was 18 or 20 - and I look EXACTLY like her. I never wanted to see another picture of her when she was older, I didn't want to know what I would look like when I grew up!

Lynn said...

Their life was probably so much harder than ours, however, they are all smiling. I wonder what they were smiling about.

Patti said...

Lynn, you are indeed an analytical lady. I just figured someone behind the camera said "smile!" so they did.

Linda said...

I love looking at old pictures and so wish that they could speak as I'm sure the stories they tell would be quite interesting. Even though their lives were most likely hard they all look so happy but then again, my happiness was easier to find back then than we make it today. People didn't need all the latest gadgets and gizmos to be happy, they just needed the company of good friends and family and the chance to get together to pose for a picture. At least that's the way I like to think of it, I'm sure reality is so much different!

sari said...

I think they all look like they're laughing *at* something! I know when someone tells me to smile, my smile doesn't look quite so much like I'm having such a good time!

:-)

(I'm waiting for Five's kindergarten pictures to come back next month - he's the type that definately does not have a better smile when someone says SMILE!, ha ha)

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

Keen and cogent observations (and you beat me to it on the Dean Martin reference). Your observations hearken back to my parents who had to leave school during the Depression to work in a factory. Great take.