Saturday, May 11, 2013

Four Girls from near the end of the Nineteenth Century.

I should have put this up a long time ago! I have loved this picture for years. This is a later deckle-edge copy of the original, which is mounted on a sort of board, which has been broken in two. My father's mother, Marjory Ann Carr (1874-1962 )is second from the left with the white bow at her throat. She was born in 1874. This was taken in Arkansas where she grew up. Her father died when she was nine months old, and her mother died when Marjory was nine years old. She managed to become a teacher and then earn a scholarship to a three -year Normal School and graduate prepared for a better teaching job, After she married, she moved to New Mexico and then to Arizona.

The girl at the left is her sister Lillian, who lived with my father's family as he was growing up. I think she had a bad leg and never married. My mother told me that Lillian had a bad attitude toward men, as a result of some kind of jilting. When this picture was taken, Marjory was, or was about to become, that young schoolteacher. I was told that the other two girls were their cousins, but I don't really know anything about them.
It was a different world, entirely, entirely, entirely! I am fascinated by the way all their throats are ornamentally wrapped, and the hair is done up so prettily. There are only two items of jewelry visible, a delicate lacy pin, and some tiny earrings.

It interests me that the two central girls look straight out at us, while the outer girls look down, Was this the idea of the photographer, or a pose they just assumed? There are many professional portrait photographers in the Camera Club of Eagle (Idaho) to which I now belong. Their conversation has made me aware of the way in which portrait photographers manipulate the posing of the picture, as well as alter and "improve" the results of the session. Most contemporary portrait photographs make me nervous. But I like this one. For some reason, as yet unclear to me, I wanted to put up an ancestor picture tonight, I thought at first of a great great grandmother Caroline Farozine Skeen Butler, Mormon pioneer and wife of John Lowe Butler.

b. 15 Apr 1812, d. 04 Aug 1875

Here she is, anyway! I think you may agree that I made the  right choice!

News Flash of the Day! Yesterday I finished the long and fiercely intelligent book George Eliot, Voice of a Century; a biography, by Frederick R. Karl. I was already writing the author a fan letter in my head, but now have discovered he died several years ago, alas. I find I now have a much better and more balanced view of the intellectual climate of a large part of the Victorian Age, not only its literature. George Eliot was so involved in the deep thinking that went on in that period (Darwin, Spencer, Henry James, Karl Marx, etc.) that it has provided the author with a great many opportunities to relate the parts to the whole, while he discusses Eliot's thoughts on important matters. Here is just one example, from a discussion of her correspondence with Harriet Beecher Stowe, who had written to Eliot and was often plugging for religion in her letters:
"Her [Eliot's] mockery of Casaubon's effort to create a key to all mythologies was not only ridicule of this limited man writing that capacious book; it was also a scornful view of any kind of overall design which tried to explain human behavior. It is not that Eliot disbelieved that myths has once served a useful function; it was now her belief that a synthesis of knowledge--even Spencer's monumental effort in this regard--was a betrayal of human experience. She voiced a typical Victorian dilemma: the recognition that proliferating subcultures undermined an organic society and yet the accompanying fear that any effort at synthesis was a denial of actual experience." Author's italics, page 493.

George Eliot lived from 1819-1880, which corresponds 
closely to Caroline Butler's life span.
And I guess now I get it! It was all about The Nineteenth Century!! Between the two great-grandmothers they almost covered the Nineteenth Century. In America! From here at the beginning of the Twenty-First, I salute you all, hardworking women, writers and grandmothers! Good Night, all.

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