Thursday, February 27, 2014

Archive: Vic's Photos #6

My siblings Steve, Vicki, and Peter on the frozen Menominee River (circa 1957)

Dear George,
My dad, Vic L., was a talented photographer, and he chronicled our family life from the late 1930’s to the mid-60’s and beyond.  Starting in 2001, my brother Peter began creating postcards from Vic’s negatives and mailing them to family members.  Peter’s multi-year project, along with images taken from family albums, are the sources of the photos shown here.  I’ve been posting these once a week in the righthand column of my blog, but, because those individual items get deleted every week, I’ve been saving batches of them in this series of archives.  This is the sixth of the series.  The previous five can be accessed by going to the righthand column, scrolling down to “Labels”, and then clicking on “Archives.  The photos are nearly all taken at various locations in and about Menominee, Michigan, many at our family home on the Menominee River.

This family Xmas card looks to me like a professional photograph that was probably taken at Conant Studios in Marinette.  From the left, my brother Steve, myself, my dad Vic, and my mother Doris.  I would guess it’s about 1946 when Steve was 5 and I was 9.  Usually Vic did his own Xmas cards, but this seems to be a special edition. 

Steve and I are with our mom on Xmas morning after opening presents.  Probably 1943 or 1944.  Xmas was the most exciting day of the year in our family.  Santa brought presents, and so did our parents.  We were thrilled to get new toys and games and played with them for days and weeks on end. 

Here’s my brother Steve, around age 3, manipulating one of the floodlights that my dad used in his photography.  Vic enlisted our participation in his photo projects, most notably by having us help develop pictures in his darkroom space.  I’m going to guess that this was taken in our house on Sheridan Road during the war.

This is my parents and myself, probably in 1938 when I was about one year old.  It’s nice to see my parents when they were so young   Vic would have been 30; Doris, 28.  It was the midst of the Great Depression, a hugely difficult time for couples and families, but they look happy nonetheless.  

Carnivals and traveling circuses visited Menominee every summer, and they were highlights of the year.  The merry-go-round was exciting, if somewhat scary, for little kids, as were the pony rides and, later, the bumper cars.  This is me, toughing it out, around 1940.  

My dad is reading to me (left) and my brother Steven.  Steve joked about this photo, saying that Vic had never read a book to us in our entire childhood, except for the purposes of taking this picture which chronicles an imaginary family scene.  That might well be correct.  The photo does look quite idyllic, though, and that’s how we like to remember things. 

My Mom and I are checking out what’s probably a photo album.  More idyllic family life.  I look a little younger then than our five-year-old kindergarten grandchildren,V and L, are right now.  That’s mysterious.  

Here’s my dad and myself, circa 1940.  It’s sort of an unnerving image – e.g., two generations facing an uncertain and potentially harrowing future.   My dad’s looking quite formal in his suit and tie.  It’s a fitting father-son image from the depression/pre-war era.

Here’s my dad at the helm of a sailboat, probably Bob Hood’s, somewhere on Green Bay or Lake Michigan.  Menominee, of course, was and is an important Great Lakes port in the U.P., a destination for boaters from Milwaukee and Chicago as well as the home base for local boaters.  My parents regularly went on watery expeditions with friends to the Mackinac races, to Door County, and elsewhere.

Family friend Dooley Worth sent this photo to me.  It was taken at her parents’ hunting camp at Cedar River.  My dad, Vic, is in the middle.  I think the man at the left may be Judge William Hupy, a U.P. friend and lawyer colleague.  Margaret Worth is at the right.   The men are pretty solemn-looking.  I think they were having some fun by putting on faces.  

This is a view of the Menominee River looking west from our front lawn.  The sunsets were often spectacular there.  We made swimming rafts out of dried out logs from Pig Island across the river.  Then, when we were teens and thanks to the construction skills of my friend Bob A., we started having real rafts made with oil barrels and planks. 

This is myself, my brother Peter, and my brother Steven at YMCA camp somewhere near Green Bay, Wisc.  I was about 13, Steve 9, Peter 5.  My parents sent me off to YMCA camp for two weeks every summer.  I hated going, and it put me in a state of deep despair for weeks beforehand.  Once I got there, it wasn’t quite as bad as I feared.  However, when families came to visit on the middle Sunday, I still prayed they would take me home.  But they never did.  

This photo was also taken at YMCA camp, probably a year or two before the preceding one.  My brother Peter is in the tires, Steve is at the right (with big pants cuffs), and family friend Tom Caley is at the left.  I think Steve was the YMCA camper the year that this picture was taken.  He was more comfortable about going away to camp than I was, though none of us were thrilled about it. 

These are such representative facial expressions from my sister Vicki (left), her chum Kevin (Kiera), and our brother Peter.  Peter looks very impish, which in fact he was as a child.  I don’t remember the hand puppets, though they look like fun for the young people.  

This scene is at my eleventh or twelfth birthday party.  Participants from the left are my brother Steven, Frank S., Skipper B., Jim J., Bill C., and Sam W.  Birthdays at this age were a mixed blessing, since you got a lot of presents but you also underwent a lot of hazing, e.g., running the gauntlet while others spanked you.  I do look happy enough here.  

This is my mom and Circuit Court Judge Ernie Brown who lived in Iron Mountain.  Peter sent us this photo as a postcard and wrote of Ernie:  “He would make me sit on his lap while he sang ‘Bye low my baby.’  He loved me and threatened to kidnap me on every visit which filled me with terror.”  

Peter was the sole high school football player in our family.  He was on the junior varsity at Menominee High, and he might have progressed to the varsity as well.  Steve was a high school basketball player and golfer, I played #2 singles on the tennis team, and Vicki was a junior high cheerleader (cheerleading being the only athletic option available for girls in the early sixties).  

The Chicago Northwestern Railroad ran north from Chicago through Marinette and Menominee, and each of the twin cities had its own depot.  In the late 1950’s I’d take the C&NW railroad train from Marinette to Chicago and then transfer to another line to Springfield, Ohio, in order to get to college.

Our family’s social circle would enjoy frequent gatherings at people’s houses, cottages, and hunting camps.  These are some of the regulars of the group.  Standing, from the left, are Jean O’Hara, my brother Steve, Muriel Sawyer, my mom Doris, Bill Caley, and my dad’s law partner, Dick Sawyer.  Kneeling from the left are Michael Dennis O’Hara, Mike O’Hara, Florence Caley, and Tom Caley.  This was taken in the early 1960’s.  Our lives were all so intertwined that a photo like this brings back many memories. 

G-Mail Comments
-Linda C (2-28): What a wonderful set of pictures, I met Vic when he was old, but love the dapper look on him when young.
-Phyllis S-S (2-27):  Dave,  Loved the photos of your family - I can see your current face in your child's face…  Phyllis  

1 comment:

  1. Memories, indeed; and not a few tears!