Friday, September 11, 2009

Three Little Butlers

Three Little Butlers
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Time for some unsurpassed photography from the past. My mother, Olga, in the center, was born in April of 1907, which makes this picture about 100 years old. I have wondered if the doll belonged to Marita, her oldest sibling. Was it just a photographer's prop? It looks too expensive to have belonged to them at that time,
Their parents, John Topham Butler and Susie Butler (both born in the US) moved back from the Mormon colonies in Juarez, Mexico, just before my mother's birth. Marita and Wendell, the other child in the picture, were born in Mexico.
The picture is sharp and beautifully lit, with light from the side, perhaps through a large window. I have read that these early photographers could use natural light this way. I consider this image a treasure, and I am thrilled to have been able to scan it.
At the time this was taken, the family probably still lived in Lehi, now part of Mesa, Arizona. Later, their father was a watermaster for the irrigation system in Mesa. My mother learned to drive one of those old Fords when she was twelve. She used to take her ten-years-younger sister with her when she went to tend a small family store at a crossroads, Many of the customers were American Indians, who would bring in eggs and produce to barter for other goods. Mother's favorite story about this was the fellow who came in and said, "Give me an egg's worth of your cheapest candy." And took it out and shared it out to his children.
The world has changed in such a way that we can no longer give our children real responsibities like those my parents' generation undertook as a matter of course. And we are not turning out people with their kinds of strength and capabilities, either. That's not all bad, but it is not all good, either.
Today, at the farm market, I got 1/2 bushel of peaches to freeze. It made me feel like I was celebrating, in a tiny way, my pioneer heritage. The peaches are on the counter now, to ripen for a day or two more. I put a pie's worth in the freezer just now.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! One of my friends posted this on FB (Marita is her grandmother) and I thought, "Hey, I have Butlers in my family tree. I wonder if we're related." Sure enough we are cousins, a few times removed. Would you mind if I borrow this picture and the stories you shared to add to my family history? Feel free to email me.