Monday, March 11, 2013

Looking Backwards for Inspiration

Three summers ago, while up at the family summer cottage in the beautiful Adirondack mountains, I was digging under the eaves looking for treasures and came upon a box full of very old photographs of my Grandmother's side of the family. It was pretty sweet and really made me wonder about what all these people did. Who were they? How many extended family relatives do I have from all these people in the photographs? 

I asked my grandmother and she was able to answer some of my questions. The Crockers and the Watermans. My great great grandmother was a hat maker. In fact I have a few of the hat pins she once owned and would have used to secure a hat for wearing. All of the women on that side of the family were industrious, and I still have some precious heirlooms of theirs including beautifully delicate handkerchiefs with fine lace tatted edges, crocheted and tatted doilies and several large quilts.

In this picture below my great grandmother is one of the little girls. She's the 2nd child from the left. She is the only great grandparent on either side of my family that was still alive when I was a child but unfortunately had dementia by the time I was old enough to meet her. However my mom has told me all kinds of stories about her child hood with her grandmother and how she always had a freezer full of ice cream sweets for them whenever they came over as children in the summer. 
She sounds like she was a pretty awesome grandmother to have had, much like her daughter- my own grandmother has been. In addition she was an talented quilt maker and crochet/ knitter. I have one of her quilts and several blankets and smaller items she crocheted and knitted. Growing up my grandmothers house was full of dolls. 

I mean FULL- like the entire living room and sitting room had dolls in all the china cabinets and the basement had 2 built in walls full of dolls and they were in little buggies and glass display cases all over.I think when she sold the house when I was a teenager and many of the dolls because she was downsizing she had over 2,000!  Fine china dolls, ones that my grandmother had collected with her mother over the years. As a little girl it was so cool to have all of these gorgeous antique dolls at my disposal to play with. And my Gram let us play with pretty much all of them so long as we were careful. I felt like I was more spoilt than Sarah and all of her dolls from A Little Princess. And I have some of them now, my grandmother let me and my cousin each pick out our 10 favorite to keep. They reside in the china cabinet in my parents living room.
This is the house my great grandmother grew up in. If you have ever been to Binghamton/ Vestel, New York and shopped at the Wegmans there... all of that land that the grocery store and mall sits on once belonged to my grandmother's family. My grandmother had her store in the house years later, Crocker's Corner before she finally sold the land after a lot of pressuring from big land developers. How I wish I'd had the opportunity to wander those horse pastures and streams that my grandmother and mom did. They kept horses and were avid riders. My Grandmother's identical twin sister, Aunt Jan's family continued that tradition as several of her granddaughters, my cousins are nationally ranked riders in their respective equestrian sport. 

Finding these photographs inspired me during my last year in college to do some self portraits that harkened back to this earlier time. I've been told since I was a pretty young child by relatives and even strangers who I may have only had a passing conversation with, that I am an old soul. I'd have to agree. I mean I love the time I'm growing up in and living in but I deeply cherish those who lived before me and certainly would be up for a trip to the past if time machines actually existed!

Here are a few of the self portraits I took. Each is edited in color and with a vintage finish. I wore a dress from my childhood dress up box full of some cast off dresses that my mom wore as a young woman but which had an older era look even back in the late 1970s/ early 80s as well as a cameo brooch from my grandmothers collection of vintage costume jewelry.

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