Archive for 'way back wednesday'

July 25, 2012

When my cousin Katie told everyone that she was engaged we all were so excited for the wedding!  She and Pete had been together for quite some time and we were all anxiously waiting for their engagement.  We had a fun time during their engagment session and I love that they have incorporated so much family history into the wedding.  Pete proposed with his grandmother’s diamond, we shot their session where they first kissed and Katie carried the coin my grandmother carried on her wedding day in her shoe. :)  I wrote about that coin in one of my Way Back Wednesdays on my grandparents’ wedding.  Katie and Pete are both very family oriented and wanted family to be a major part of their wedding.  Along with including the previous details, they had family fly in from Georgia to Hawaii to share this special day with them.  Her brother even made a surprise appearance! The entire day was amazing and full of laughter and smiles.  Katie + Pete even had a beautiful sparkler exit on their way to the airport!

Katie + Pete- Mel and I had an amazing time with you on your wedding day.  We are so happy for you both and hope you had a great in Jamaica! :)  I’m so thankful to be able to call you family. xoxo

June 20, 2012

My grandfather has always been an amazing story teller.  I have grown up on his memories and adventures and have always been particularly interested in his stories from when he was in the service during the 40′s.  For some reason I’ve always gravitated to the patriotism and the travels and of course the photographs he took along his journey.  Those photo albums from his adventures overseas are prized family possessions.  He had his Argus C3 camera, plenty of film and an artistic eye.  I could spend days telling you all his stories about the service, but today I am going to start from the beginning. :)

“I was working on the farm at the time when I got a letter saying, ‘Greetings, you’ve been selected to serve your county’ ,” Pop Pop began.  He seemed to have mixed emotions about being drafted.  A lot of his friends were in the service but he recalled his one classmate that had passed away.  My grandfather sat and stared out the window for a minute in silence.  “I was lucky to be a couple years younger.  I don’t know how a country boy from Wetipquin ended up in intelligence and offered a commission.  It still amazes me, but it’s something I’m proud of.”

“Mom worried herself to death because I was her only child.  I always tried to find time to write.  Even if it was to address the envelope and say ‘Hi, I’m okay’ to help ease her mind,” Pop Pop explained.  He headed off to Ft. Meade where he took his oath of office and then headed to Indiantown Gap, PA.  From there, he was shipped to Camp J.T. Robinson, AR for basic training.  Above, you can see the barracks.  “I wanted to be a sniper, but I couldn’t keep my butt down crawling across the field.  Got spotted,” he chuckled.  “I had a good shot, I hit the bulls eye from a thousand yards away.”  He left Arkansas with the MOS (Military Occupational Specialties) of an infantry rifleman.  From basic, the whole outfit was to leave from Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.  Pop Pop didn’t make it in time to leave with the guys in basic (because he took a 15 day leave home instead of 10) and stayed in Ft. Dix for two weeks until he had orders to be shipped out.  I love the photo below.  It shows some guys playing cards on and passing time in the bunks on the ship.

Pop Pop is on the far right (this was his room once he was in Germany). :)

He was shipped out on the SS George Washington.  Soon, I’ll tell you about his return voyage home in 1947 on the USS General Stuart Heintzelman and how they were 9 degrees from capsizing!  Pop Pop took photos of the damage to the metal of the ship and has a newspaper clipping of the scare.  Below is a photo of the USS General Stuart Heintzelman and a boxing match on deck of the SS George Washington.

It took 10 days to get over to Le Harve, France but from there they got on a cattle car and went to Erlangen, Germany.  “I had to take my IQ and aptitude test over again because my records went over on the first ship.”  From there, he and four other men went to a train station and the next thing Pop Pop saw was the photo below.

“I realized I was in the 3rd Army Headquarters, G2 (Intelligence) at the Patton Barracks.  The five of us were separated there and a Staff Sergeant carried me into a building and said ‘this will be your room’.  It was larger than what I was used to.  I had always shared during basic.”  Then Pop Pop was taken into the main building where the officers were and was pulled in front of the Colonel and told to raise his right hand.  “The Colonel said to me ‘What comes here, stays here under $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison.  You have been cleared for confidential, secret and top secret’.”  The Sergeant carried Pop Pop to coalition and introduced him to 1st Lieutenant Jenks and pointed to a desk.  “He said that desk was mine and pointed to a typewriter and said that it was mine.  It may as well have been an atomic reactor!”  Now I had never heard of that before so I asked my grandfather what it was.  “Something I knew nothing about!” he busted out laughing.  “I was assigned a clerical job and I couldn’t write worth a damn.  I had seen a typewriter but had never touched one.”  Pop Pop told his Lieutenant that he didn’t know anything about typing.  His Lieutenant looked up from his desk and said he didn’t know anything about typing either.  “He told me to use the ‘Hunt + Peck Method’ which was hunt for the letter, then peck the key.  Then I saw his fingers dance over the keys and he typed out ‘Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country’.”

Below is a photo of my grandfather at his desk and the typewriter.

My grandfather also travelled during his time in the service.  Some of the trips were for work and others were for pleasure.  He went everywhere from England, France, the Scottish countryside, to the mountains in Switzerland and all over Germany and even out to the Azores Islands.  He took so many photographs of his journey and a few years ago I went over to Europe with his old photos in hand and went to some the same places he went and stood where he stood in the same location.  I photographed how they look today so I could bring them back and show my grandfather.  I’ll show you those side by side in another story.  He even befriended one of Patton’s horses and gave him the name ‘Dammit’ but I’ll save that one for another time. :)

Above is where he bought cigarettes, soap, etc. Below is a random photo along his travels of people enjoying the view from the plane.

Although my grandfather travelled and saw some amazing sights, he also saw some of the damage caused by the war.  Below is a photo of damage done in Weisbaden, Germany.  When we got to this photo he looked up at me.  “When you see an American flag, think about how many millions have died since we gained our independence to defend that flag and our right to display it.”

“You can say anything you want about any politician or anyone running the country- but don’t knock my flag or my country,” my grandfather said.  Ever since I can remember I have heard his stories and my grandmother’s stories about WWII.  Both of her brothers were in the Navy.  Her one brother signed up for the Navy on December 5, 1941- two days before Pearl Harbor was attacked.  She also has stories about life in the US during the war- which is just as fascinating.  Her family actually moved from the Eastern Shore of Maryland to Alexandria, Virginia so her father could work in the Torpedo Factory.  I will definitely get to all these stories and show you the many photos that go along with them.  One of the things I found most fascinating was when Pop Pop told me about the major depreciation of the German currency.  Everyone basically traded on the black market and bartered because the German Frank was worth next to nothing.  He told me how trading cigarettes and soap for things was a common occurrence and a means for living while he was in Germany.  I’ll also elaborate on Mom Mom’s stories about ordered curfews and painting car headlights half black so that submarines in the night couldn’t see the shoreline.

***** My grandfather, Russell C. Cooper from the 3rd Army Headquarters G2 , who rode across on the SS George Washington and returned on the USS General Stuart Heintzelman is asking that if anyone made either one of those voyages or was stationed overseas during that time with him could contact me at  He would love to talk.  Thank you!  -Kristie Cooper

Farming + agriculture are a major attribute and staple to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delmarva community.  You will find plenty of friendly farmers and countless fields of wheat, corn, soybeans, strawberries, watermelons and so much more!  I love going to the local Farmers’ Market during the summer and picking up some fresh veggies.  We also have many CSA farms in Maryland that support local farmers.  Chicken houses and irrigation systems are sprinkled all over the Delmarva peninsula.  For many locals, a sure sign of summer is that first whiff of fertilizer as you’re driving down a back country road on a sunny afternoon.  So when I learned that our family farm used to grow and sell sweet potatoes- I had to know more!  Mom used to always make mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie and no family dinner would be complete without some sweet potato biscuits! :)  I even see local restaurants now serving sweet potato fries instead of regular.  After learning that sweet potatoes were what this farm primarily harvested, the huge four-story building on the back field made sense to me!

My dad always complained that we lived on a sand hill.  Which is true.  Most of farm’s fields do not have the ideal nutrient-rich soil needed for crops.  But the sandy soil is perfect for growing sweet potatoes! :)  After the potato farming boom, ‘potato houses’ were where farmers stored their harvest.  Before, families usually stored them in their basement to keep them cool and from freezing in the winter.  “Mom used to put her potatoes in a tall wooden basket and bury it in the dirt.  When she wanted to cook with them, she’d go outside and dig one up.  We were too poor for a basement,” Pop Pop began.  Then he shot me a grin.  “But we survived.”  The Riggin family, who lived on the farm before my family, used to store the sweet potatoes in bushel baskets on all four floors.  Below is an old photo of when they used the potato house.The basement, which I wouldn’t dare go down to, kept the sweet potatoes cool in the summer.  The ideal temperature for storing them is between 34 and 36 degrees Farenheit.  There are wooden ladders to get to each floor and there is a door on each level. If anyone wants to climb down there- be my guest! :)  I wasn’t going down there with any lights.  In the basement is the furnace that was fueled by coal in the winter so that the potatoes wouldn’t freeze.  The chimney went to all the floors and when the house was built, there was about an 8 inch gap left between the outside and inside walls to let the air circulate.  Also, they intentionally built the house with slatted, wooden floors to help with circulation.  In the photos below, you can see the original brick and mortar of the chimney and a spot in a door way where someone did a little book keeping. :)  Numbers and tally marks can be found all throughout this potato house from doorways to the wooden support beams.In the photo above I am on the third floor looking down to the second.  I love that this building is still in tact and that there are still a few more on Delmarva that are still in decent shape.  Farming has been and always will be an important element in this community.






June 06, 2012

I can’t believe Memorial Day Weekend has already come and went!  For the beach town of Ocean City, Maryland Memorial Day Weekend pretty much marks the beginning of summer.  Now people from all over will start making their way over to this neat little town.  I told my grandparents that I was ready to hit the beach (I prefer Assateague Beach over Ocean City’s beach) and they began talking about their trips to Ocean City.  My grandmother and Aunt Debbie are in the photo above on one of their beach days. :)  “When I was a kid, we maybe went to Ocean City 2-3 times a year,” Pop Pop said.  “I remember playing under the boardwalk,” Mom Mom chimed in.  Then they both began talking about the crazy nor’easter of 1962 that destroyed the beach and buildings of Ocean City.  “I have some of your Pop Pop’s photographs that have never been published from that storm,”  Mom Mom said.  “And I have photos of me overseeing the boardwalk reconstruction,”  Pop Pop added.  He worked for the State Highway Administration during that time and was assigned to one of 4 sections of the Ocean City boardwalk after the storm.

I have mentioned before that my grandmother volunteers for the Lower Delmarva Genealogical Society and she also has a love for photos.  She has saved and collected old newspapers and photos since she was little.  So it was no surprise when she pulled out two articles from The Daily Times (our local newspaper) written about this powerful nor’easter.   The storm was on March 6th and 7th and caused the Atlantic to cover Ocean City and forever alter its appearance.    The articles stated that winds reached 60 mph and waves reached 25 ft!  More than 1,000 were injured and a few were killed.

“Many local businesses and homes were destroyed,”  Pop Pop said.  “Commodes were floating in the sea.”  The Daily Times also mentioned that buildings were lifted off their foundation and  carried away.  There was a series of five successive high tides and what I found most interesting was that Ocean City almost had a new inlet!  Right now, there is one at the Southern end of Ocean City but as the Isle of Wright Bay flooded, it threatened to connect with the Atlantic Ocean at the North end of Ocean City.

The National Guard was stationed in each town to ward off looters.  You had to prove you owned property to get in.  Also, another interesting outcome that hit home to me was that Assateague became a National Seashore.  I didn’t know this, but the beautiful, untouched beach and wetlands of Assateague Island were to be developed that decade.  There were close to 5,000 lots that were awaiting resort development!  After the storm changed the Island, some forward-thinking local leaders along with political aid, decided to  make Assateague a federally managed National Seashore in 1965.  That, if anything, was a silver lining.  My grandparents still call this one of the storms of the century.  My grandfather said that he and his team had to have the boardwalk completed by Memorial Day leaving them less than 2 months to reconstruct the boardwalk.  I guess even back then, Memorial Day weekend was still considered the ‘beginning of summer’ for this eclectic beach town. :)

May 23, 2012

If you follow us on Facebook, you know that Raye and I just came back from an AMAZING excursion to visit the Southern part of this beautiful country.  We both were jonesin’ for a road trip so we decided to break in my Forester and hit the road.  We both travel well together and agreed we didn’t want a set itinerary- except to visit our friend, Kelly Moore mid trip.  While cruisin’ through the rolling hills of Tennessee, Raye and I both kinda zoned out to local bluegrass on that long I-40 stretch and I got thinking about my grandparents’ stories.  They always talk about family vacations and camping trips around the US but I wondered if they ever went on road trips when they were younger and what it was like.  Mom Mom found TONS of old photos for me and I enjoyed looking at the old cars and wanted to share them with you so this post may be a little photo happy :)  The next few photos are of my great-grandmother Lillian (and friend) and great-grandfather Fred with their early modes of transportation.  I’ll have to tell you about the first Model-A Ford Pop Pop’s family got when they lived on the farm another time.  (His family used to take the car battery and hook it up to the radio to hear the news and evening shows!)

When I asked them about their road trips and transportation, Mom Mom showed me a photo of my grandfather leaning on their first car and her taking photos on one of their adventures. :) You can see their car a little better in this next photo…

“When I was a kid, a ‘roadtrip’ would be going into the town of Salisbury or Ocean City,”  Pop Pop began.  “Then when Mom Mom and I were married, going to Baltimore or the neighboring states of Virginia and Pensylvannia was considered a roadtrip.  Then when your Dad and Aunt Debbie were kids, we’d go up and down the east coast.  And now a days a roadtrip is to the west coast and Hawaii.”  Don’t get me wrong- my grandfather travelled a lot and all over Europe when he was in the service but I was wondering about roadtrips when they were together or in their teens.  When my grandparents married in 1950, my grandfather was a member of the Drum and Bugle Corps in Salisbury.  It was an organization that local service men were in and they played all around Maryland.  Mom Mom said that when he had to play in Baltimore, they’d pack the car with sandwiches and take a roadtrip there.  This is when it hit me that there wasn’t always a Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  So often, the girls and I at the studio refrence to ‘across the bridge’ to mean anything over the Bay Bridge away from the Eastern Shore of MD.  So when Mom Mom kept referring to taking the ferry to Baltimore- I was dumbfounded.  She explained that they’d load up their car on the ferry and it’d take about 40 minutes to get across.  Now a days I complain if it takes me more than ten to get across the bridge.  So this sparked my questions about earlier trips they may have taken.  “When I was younger, I used to take a train down to Virginia and North Carolina to visit my friends,”  Mom Mom said.  Below is a luggage ticket from her first train ride :)

Then when they had their two children (my Aunt Debbie and my dad, Wayne) they camped and took family vacations up and down the east coast.

   Then they took bus trips together when they got older.  Mom Mom had her first airplane ride when she was 69 years old. :)  I love seeing their old photos and the places they have been.  When I begin telling/showing you my grandfather’s experiences during World War II in Europe,  I’ll show you some photos he took and where I went back to the same places and took photographs from the exact spots he stood.  Travelling is in my genes! :)  I’m going to leave you with some more family members and their old automobiles.

Did you notice the jersey above?  The one room school house of Nanticoke that my grandfather attended had a very talented baseball team- but I’ll save that story for another day. :)

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

May 09, 2012

With wedding season kicking in full gear I thought it’d be fun to share with you my grandparents’ wedding story.  My grandfather had always said that my grandmother proposed to him. :) I wanted to hear her side of that story and find out all the details that went into their wedding back on June 17, 1950.

My grandparents had met through mutual friends when my grandfather got out of the service.  The first “date” they ever had was when he came over to my grandmother’s and showed her his photo album of his time overseas.  He played cards with her parents and they called it a night.  Little did they both know that they would marry three years later.   I asked how Mom Mom finally got her ring.  “He had already proposed 3 or 4 times, and I said no,” she explained.  “But one day I got a phone call that my Dad was in the hospital and I came in to visit him and don’t you know your grandfather was in the hospital too!”  My grandfather worked for Sunshine Laundry and there was actually a bad explosion at the laundry mat so he coincidentally was there at the same time.  “He knew I would go and visit him.  When I saw him in his hospital bed I told him ‘you gotta hurry up and get out of here so we can get married’.  Then he finally fell asleep from the anesthesia he had been fighting til he could get to see me.”  Pop Pop chimed in, “She knew a good thing when she saw it!” Then he gave Mom Mom a wink as she laughed. “He was very convincing!”  So in a sense, I guess my Mom Mom did propose to him. :)  She went with him to pick out her diamond and they were married three months later.  The ham in the photograph below is me at my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary in 2000.

She picked out a pattern for her dress and for her bridesmaid’s dresses and had them made at Benjamin’s in Salisbury.  She had a maid of honor and two bridesmaids and he had his best man.  I asked her what the traditional items were and she said something borrowed + old was her bridesmaid Dot’s lipstick, something new was her wedding dress and something blue was a ribbon on her girdle.  They didn’t have a first dance but they had close to 300 guests at their reception which was held at her parent’s house right across the road from the church.  They were married at Washington Methodist Church in Shad Point, Maryland.  The church has now been moved to the other side of the road.

She still has her wedding shoes.

Their cake was actually a gift from her cousin who lived in DC.  “My dad picked it up in his Buick and it actually slid on the way home and 1 side of it got messed up.  But Mother was a good baker and she fixed it right up,” Mom Mom said.   They didn’t have a set plan for their honeymoon but made their way to Pennsylvania to stay in the mountains.  Their honeymoon was about 4 days then they came home.  Another interesting tradition I learned about was keeping a coin in your wedding shoe!  Mom Mom kept hers and told me that when she and my grandfather were cleaning out his mother’s things- they found the coin she kept in her shoe on her wedding day that was given to her by my great-grandfather Fred. :)

I hope I look as beautiful as she did on my wedding day! :)


May 02, 2012

It’s no secret that I absolutely love my job.  Photography, my passion for traveling and all of my other hobbies tend to keep my day planner so full that I rarely am home longer than the amount of time it takes to sleep and grab a cup of coffee on my way out the door in the morning.  At times when I begin to feel overwhelmed, I stop and think of how much has changed since my grandmother was a new bride and how fortunate women are to have the choice to either stay home and raise their family or persue their career.   They cooked, cleaned, did laundry, ironed, sewed, canned, baked and the list goes on!  Although being a mom is the hardest job ever (and something I’m looking forward to in the future), I’m grateful that I have opportunities that my grandmother’s generation didn’t necessarily have.  My grandmother and her mom were actually apart of Shadpoint’s Homemakers’ Club. “We would exchange our recipes and play games.  The best part of our homemaker’s club was dessert!  We met in different members’ homes to have our meetings,” Mom Mom said.  “We chatted a lot.  It was our gossip feast.”

 The above photo is of my grandmother’s first cookbook from when she was married placed in a cast iron skillet.  “Mother used to have homemade biscuits on the table every night for dinner,” she explained.  “One of the best meals I ever liked was canned tenderloin from our hogs, homemade applesauce and hot biscuits.”  My grandmother was telling me how her mother used to make yeast rolls during the war and would send her and her two older brothers up and down the street during dinner time and sell them for 50 cents a dozen.  “I was about 12. It was her way of bringing in extra change.”  My great-grandmother used to can beets, string beans, tomatoes, corn, peaches and pepper relish.  We use her recipe to this day and make a new batch of pepper relish every two years.  I’m no Betty Crocker, but with the helping hand of DiGiorno- I make a bangin’ pizza. :)

Now let’s talk about laundry.  You can see my great-grandmother Esther hanging clothes on a line in the snow.  Both of my great-grandmothers used a metal wash bin and washboard (pictured above, right).  My grandfather explained that his mother would make her own soap by using hog fat left over from a hog killing and mix that with lye (a corrosive and poisonous substance they used for cleaning) and then boil it on the stove top.  When it cooled, she took the soap and cut it into squares.  “On Monday mornings, she boiled water and put it in one of the large metal basins.  Then she placed a cake of handmade soap on the wash board and let her clothes soak in the hot water.  Then she’d use both hands and scrub the garments on the washboard.  After that, she put them in her rinse tub and then would wring them out and then pinned them up on the clothesline.  She put two or three cast irons on the stove to heat up so that by the time the clothes were dry she could iron them out,” Pop Pop said.  “You hoped you had a gentle breeze and warm sun.  She’d put all the clothes in her laundry basket and bring them in before dark to iron them.  I remember her always wetting her finger and touching the iron to make sure it was hot enough.  You’d iron with the first one and when it cooled off you’d grab the next one off of the stove.”  Below is the actual laundry basket my great-grandmother Cooper used.

“But what if it rained?” I asked.  “Oh, well that’s when you used this wooden laundry hanger that you kept inside,” Mom Mom said as she pulled out this apparatus that looked more like a torcher device rather than a useful tool. (pictured below)  I couldn’t imagine my laundry taking up most of my day!

My great-grandmothers also sewed and embroidered.  “My mother used to sew dresses and smocks for me.  I remember her hosting and going to quilting bees.  She would set up in her livingroom and ladies from the neighborhood would come to our house and help make a quit,” Mom Mom said.

Times have certainly changed for women over the decades.  I’m glad I can pick up my crochet needles and yarn or try out a new recipe out of leisure instead of necessity.  This is one of the many reasons I am so fond of history. :)

April 25, 2012

“Even though I didn’t know it, we were as poor as a church mouse,” Pop Pop said as I was pulling his toy train off of the shelf.  It was a little dusty and the bottle cap wheels had began to rust, but the toy still looked the way it did 80 years ago.  “I was fascinated with the first train I remember seeing- I was probably 4 or 5 years old.  I wanted one but Santa Claus couldn’t afford one,” he said as he shot me a smile.  My grandfather told me before that his Christmas mornings usually consisted of an orange, a handful of nuts and one new toy.  “So, with no hopes of getting a train, I made one myself.”  Check out the bottle caps he used for wheels!

When he was about 13, his dad (Fred) had a good oyster season.  “That Christmas morning, I was surprised to find a train that Santa left.  It was a windup, spring driven one because we didn’t have electricity out in my area until I came out of the service.”  He still has the box it came in…

“Airplanes also fascinated me.  In the 30′s someone gave me a Pan Am flying boat (pictured right).  They flew over the Pacific and took passengers to Hawaii.”  My grandfather said that it was rare to see a plane fly overhead in the country, so when he did spot one he was in complete awe.  “Then I decided to make my own airplanes.  Tissue paper airplane kits cost about 5 cents so I used wood until I got older.  It was about 1939, and with the war coming on I could have my own battles.”  He said that it usually took a couple days to make his wooden airplanes.  He painted them red and scribbled ‘Wetipquin Maryland’ across the wingspan. :)

He used to fly them into forts he said, so the wooden ones always lasted longer.  Below are a bunch of toys he made- including a wooden king he carved. :) Even Hitler’s 109 Messerschmitt couldn’t defeat the Wetipquin Squadron… :)

When he was sixteen and with the war was creeping up, he made a submarine.  He still represented his hometown. :)  These toys are so special because they didn’t have money back then to buy toys and he had to use his imagination come up with entertainment.  Soon I’ll show and tell you about his Charlie McCarthy doll he made and how he finally got a real one. :)

April 18, 2012

This week, I had gone over to my grandparents’ with the intention of photographing their old cast iron and tin toys and telling you about their childhood entertainment but as storytelling usually happens, we ended off on a tangent and began talking about night time entertainment.  “Everyone worked during the day,” Pop Pop began, “so at night is when you usually caught up and relaxed in the parlor.”  The above photograph is of my Great-Great Grandfather Cooper’s (his name was Cortez and was Maggie’s husband- the lady who made butter in the mason jar :)) Edison Phonograph with a Morning Glory horn attached to it.  This was around 1910 when Cortez bought this phonograph- also known as a “talking machine.”  The music was on a wax cylinder that was originally made of ceresin and beeswax in the 1880′s.  After you put the selected cylinder on, you cranked the handle and the cylinder would spin around.  You placed the needle on the cylinder as it was spinning and the needle would slide down the cylinder, playing what was ‘recorded’ til it either ran down and then you would crank it up again or until the cylinder’s 2 minute play time was up.  If that was the case, you simply picked up the needle and brought it back to the beginning and heard it all over again.

The cylinders above were standard-sized cylinders, which tended to be about 4 inches long and usually played 2-4 minutes.  A variety of selections were featured on the cylinders, including marches, sentimental ballads, minstrels, hymns and comic skits.  They cost around 60 cents a piece- which you can read on the container in the fine print below.  :)  “If you had neighbors and they had a phonograph, you would loan out your cylinders to switch it up.  We would play them so much, you practically learned all of them by heart.”

Then the family ‘upgraded’ to a phonograph without the cumbersome Morning Glory horn which is shown below……

It is also an Edison Phonograph.  I took the cylinder I used on the first phonograph and tried to see if it would play on this one. It did!! I was so surprised they both still work considering they are 100 years old!  The Pat’d on this machine is 1905.  I chose the song “The Preacher and The Bear” by Arthur Collins.  It was made in 1902! Wanna hear what I heard when I cranked up that old phonograph?  Check out me playing my great-grandfather Fred’s old Edison Phonograph by clicking HERE.  I’ve listed the lyrics, some history of the singer and the style of music in the early 1900′s under the video.  Disclaimer: I am in no way a videographer so I apologize for the quality but thought it’d be cool to show you all.  :)

The following photos are of my grandmother and the Victor Talking Machine.

This machine had records that you listened to instead of cylinders and I’ve recorded her cranking this up and playing it.  You can listen to it by clicking HERE.  “Before these talking machines came about, my grandfather (Pa) would invite people over to the parlor and and his brother, Ernest, would play the fiddle,” Pop Pop explained.  “They’d roll the rug back and if someone had a banjo, they’d bring that too, and they just danced.  That was their entertainment.”

I’ll have to tell you about their first experiences with radios another time.  And I’ll eventually get to those tin toys and paper dolls! :)


April 11, 2012

When I asked my grandparents about telephones they both had different stories.  My grandmother grew up in Shad Point, a small town but had neighbors and was only ten minutes from Salisbury.  My grandfather, however, lived in the country and never had a telephone until he moved and got married.   If you could afford a phone line during the Depression, (which Pop Pop told me was probably cheaper than $1.00 a month in the 1930′s) then you were familiar with switchboards, wall telephones with a crank and “Party Lines.”  There was an old switchboard station in Salisbury, Maryland that used to sit on Church Street right next to Miss Jessie’s Hat Store.  “I know that because I used to get all my hats from her store,” Mom Mom said.  Sometimes a switchboard station would be in a woman’s home- it all depended.  But my grandparents both remember the head station in downtown Salisbury.  When someone would crank the operator, they would tell her who they were trying to call or give her the number and she would literally “connect” them on the large switchboard in front of her.  Pop Pop said that at that time, the Ice Plant in Salisbury had a single digit # because phones were so scarce.  Then, depending on whos house it was going to depend on how many ‘rings’ the call would give off.  You see, on any given street there would be a telephone wire that went to 5 houses.  It connected to 5 homes (given they all had enough money to afford a phone and line) and if the call was going to house #1 on the street, the operator would only make one ring.  If no one picked up, she would try again after a few secconds with a single ring.  If it was going to house #2, she would ring it twice and then pause for someone to pick up and so on and so on.  Mom Mom told me that if people wanted to know someone else’s business (on the same telephone line) then they would wait for the house to pick up the call and the other houses could pick up and listen to what their neighbors were saying.  “That’s why everyone knew your business in a small town.  But the pause inbetween rings gave you enough time to pull up a chair to hear what was being said,”  Mom Mom said.  :) Below is a photo of the old wall phone in my grandparents house.  It is missing the crank on the right hand side but to use it, you would pick up the receiver on the left, put it up to your ear and listen to see if anyone was on the line and if not then you would crank for the operator.  You talked through the speaker in front and the 2 bells on top would make the ringing sound when the operator dialed in to your home.  The ledge on the bottom is where you could put your telephone book.

The following photograph is courtesy of the University of California and shows women working on a switchboard.  Mom Mom said that the lady operating the switch board could know the whole town’s business if she wanted to. :)

My Mom Mom remembers that growing up, her family would buy a spot on the line only when they could afford it.  (guess they didnt have two year contracts!)  “I remember we had a telephone when my brother was in the service because he would call home but then I also remember my mother scolding me one night when I came home too late that she was just about to go over to Gilbert’s to call the law on me!” Mom Mom explained.  “And other times when we didn’t have a phone I would run down the street to use my Aunt Nonnie and cousin Janet’s phone.”   I asked what people did if they had an emergency and she said you would interrupt the current conversation and just say “Excuse me, I have to make an emergency call, I’m sorry to interrupt”  then hang up to let them end their conversation and then make your call.   For my grandfather, that was all foreign to him.  If they had an emergency (like the time he swallowed a watermelon seed and it began to sprout!), they would have to drive or run two miles Harry Horner’s Store which had a telephone.  I’ll tell you about the watermelon seed incident another time :)  Pop Pop said that he got his first telephone after he married my grandmother in the 1950′s.  “My parents used to drive from Wetipquin to Salisbury everyday after our first child- your aunt- was born to check up on her everyday,” Pop Pop said.  “So they finally broke down and bought a phone in 1958 so that they could call to see if their granddaughter was okay instead of having to drive everyday.”

We have come a long way from switch board and receivers!  Wonder what they’ll come up with next?? :)