Saturday, December 19, 2009

Playing for the Camera

These two photographs are the only ones I have of my grandparents together. Beulah Mae Gerner and Gust Doyle were married on December 19, 1911, in Butler, Pennsylvania, and lived in Stoneboro after they were married.

In the photo at the left, Beulah is standing on the left, Gust is seated in front. The lady in the middle (with the unusual hairstyle) is Beulah's older sister, Leota.

I suspect that both of these photos were taken in the summer of 1912 at the Doyle farm in Stoneboro. I suspect that because this photo was printed as a postcard and on the back Leota had written to her mother asking that one of her siblings meet her at the 6:00 train. (How I wish I'd made a copy of the back! I copied only the fronts when I had the originals a number of years ago. I'd just barely started thinking about family history and didn't know enough to hold on to every scrap of evidence!) Leota was probably visiting the farm for a few days. If this photo was taken in 1912, Beulah was probably already pregnant with my father and his sister. Of course, it's possible that the photograph was taken before they were married and taken some other place than the farm.

In the photo to the left, we recognize Gust and Leota. But who is the man standing in front?

My brother and his wife were visiting one day and asked to look at family history photographs. When they came to these two, I commented to my brother that I knew who was in the first photograph, but I didn't know who the other man was in the second photograph. He chuckled and said, "Well, that's Beulah."

Looking at these photographs, I have plenty of questions.
-- Was it a special occasion? I wonder because they seem to be dressed up.
-- Where were these taken and when?
-- Who was the photographer?
-- If that really is you, Gramma Beulah, dressed in men's clothing, which man's clothes were they? And what was he wearing while you were wearing his clothes?
-- Where did you change?
-- Is there a story behind these photos?

I think that my grandparents must have had a healthy sense of humor. I think it's fun that they were still playing as young adults. I wish they could tell me the details of these photos and the events of that day.

As a side note, Leota was 3 or 4 years older than Beulah. Aunt Brendice, Beulah's younger sister by about 7 years, told me that Leota was with Beulah when her babies, my dad and his twin sister, were born. Beulah's family originally planned that Brendice would stay with Beulah to help after the babies were born. When little 3-day-old Leila died, the plan changed and Leota stayed. After Beulah died, Leota continued to stay for some while and took care of my father, Lee.

Leota married Frank Riss sometime before 1920. From what I can tell, she had only one daughter who she named Beulah. What a kind tribute to my grandmother.

Gramma Beulah and Grampa Gust, I'm remembering you with love on your anniversary. Happy Anniversary!

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