Post 915: a wartime celebration…

The fascination of old photos, especially those that predate oneself, is the story they tell. Or don’t. For example, this family photo of what appears to be a family birthday celebration.

Surrounding my grandfather, the apparent “birthday boy”, are, starting at the top right: my mother, my father, my Aunt Esther (I think…), my grandmother, my brother, grandpa,  and — the first born in my family — my sister.


I think this predates my second sister, so may be a photo taken in 1942 or 1943. No one seems that happy, perhaps a reflection of the family attitude toward having one’s photo taken.

Or perhaps the lack of smiles reflects the times, a wartime celebration where the cares of the day out-trumped any effort to have a good time. They were uncertain times, and a victory was the prayer, not an inevitability.

I find that photo so depressing, I include this photo of my brother taken around the same time. It makes me smile!

dads shadow and dick1

22 thoughts on “Post 915: a wartime celebration…

  1. Perhaps they were not sad so much as just stoic? Some families are not jovial but serious. The little ones seem bored out of their minds and perhaps a bit cranky. Perhaps it was the last picture in a series of pictures and they were tired of getting yet another one. I wonder how long the actual picture taking event took? Just some random thoughts on my part. I love to try to figure out what is going on in a photo.

    • I can see that scenario happening. My family is notorious for joking around. Maybe this was taken after the photographer (I think it was my Uncle John) threatened to keep everyone hostage till they settled down for a photo. Yes, I can imagine something like that happening! Or he took several photos to make sure he got one usable one, and the usable one turned out to be this sad-faced bunch.

    • Europeans of that generation had a horrific time to get through. It was tough here in America, but, at the end of war, those who fought in the Pacific and Europe came home to a country still intact and ready to go for a very prosperous peace. Most Europeans had at least a decade of shortages and rebuilding just to get to a reasonable state of comfort, and signs of even WWI still are there to remind us that not only was the 1940s a terrible time, much of the 20th Century was a time of turmoil and war.

  2. Your mom and dad are the only ones even barely smiling, but then again it was war time. No one can help but smile at your brother’s photo! Memories, uh – where would be be without them?

  3. Everyone is serious on the photo as it was the use at this time ; But doing so they have a sad appearance . And at this time we took only one or two pictures . No choice .
    Probably you were not born .
    This is am impressing photo
    In friendship

    • I wasn’t born until 1948, so the photo does predate me. You may be right about the smiles, yet I remember my mother’s reaction to that poignant Italian film about WWII, “Life Is Beautiful” (“La vita è bella”). We watched it, were very moved by it, of course.. When I told her about another film about that time that was less emotional and I thought she might enjoy, she said, “I lived that time and I don’t want to go back there again.” It hadn’t occurred to me that she felt that strongly about the war time since she never said anything to me about what it was like raising three children at a time of shortages and rationed food.

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