Malachi's Promise "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers...." Malachi 4:6

Saturday, December 8, 2012

In Work Garb

This poor photo of my paternal great-grandfather, William Doyle (known as Billy to his friends, as Pap to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren), shows him standing in overalls near his home in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania.  He was a farmer, though he'd given over the ownership of the farm to his son, Gust, long before this photo was taken. 

If those overalls were still around and could only talk, what stories they could tell!  Of the two-mile walks to the farm on snowy winter mornings to help his son Gust, or driving there in the car in the summer.  Perhaps we'd hear stories of the horses and their work, or learn of the cows' names and which had recently had calves.  I know we'd learn about the work of planting and harvesting corn, hay, and strawberries.  Those strawberries were known for miles around.  Maybe they would tell stories about digging the coal mine and shoveling and hauling coal.  And the pockets!  Tools, coins, pen knife, and, most importantly, the pipe and Cutty Pipe tobacco, but who knows what else!  If only those overalls could talk....

Pap looks a humble, unpretentious, sensible man to me.  He was also a family man.  He tenderly taught his children and grandchildren the value of work and a job well done.

My great-grandfather was born in England and came to the U.S. as a child.  Somehow the flat cap in his hand seems British to me, but perhaps it was common hatwear in the early part of the 1900s in the U.S.

This is a contribution to Sepia Saturday.  Head on over to see what others have to say about working folks, some of which will probably be wearing overalls.
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28 comments:

  1. Lovely memories of your Pap, well told. And I don't think it's a poor photo - it's lovely.

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    1. Thank you, Boobook. If only wish they were first-hand instead of second-hand memories!

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  2. Two perfect images - one in sepia the other in words.

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  3. Nancy, I like Alan's comment. Good post and the photo is real life, nothing fake.

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    1. Thanks, Barbara. Yes, I can almost imagine him on his way, delayed only by someone's request to take his photo.

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  4. He looks like a very kind man. I really enjoyed your post!

    Kathy M.

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    1. Thank you, Kathy. I wish I knew him first-hand. He granddaughter was the one who shared her memories of Pap.

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  5. In some parts of England the flat cap is still worn. Fine photo of Pap; your post is a fine tribute to him.

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    1. Thanks, Bob. Is the flat cap as worn in England by any particular group of men - industrial workers, sportsmen, etc.?

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  6. I agree with everybody - good photo and word picture. My grandfather, who was born in Alabama and moved to Detroit as an adult, used to wear a cap unless he was dressed up.

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    1. Kristin, I have another photo of Pap dressed in a suit and overcoat. In that photo he's wearing a wide-brimmed Fedora. I think it was taken in the mid-1930s. Same era as your grandfather?

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  7. What a lovely photo and tribute to your great-grandfather.

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  8. I love how you used the overalls as a device to tell your g-grandfather! Excellent post!

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    1. Thanks, Kat. (I mentally added the words you omitted. No problem.)

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  9. That sentence should have read: "your g-grandfather's story!"

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  10. Fabulous photo of your Pap -- there's great strength and pride in that man, isn't there?

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    1. Thanks, Deb. I only wish I'd known him personally.

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  11. Nancy, you told the story so well. I'm sure your great-grandfather would have been proud and happy with your description of him and his life.

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  12. I have a lot of photos of my grandfather in Pennsylvania wearing the same sort of cap. He wore them most of his life, including as a child.

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  13. Your creative storytelling has produced a clear word-picture that adds life to this photo of your great-grandfather.

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    1. Thanks, Wendy. I wish I had more stories to describe more details!

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  14. I love the way you told the story through "if only these overalls could talk...." Re the query on flat caps, I suppose it was often associated in the past with the working class - I have photographs of my grandfather, a labourer, wearing on, but you will still see them todsy worn at race meetings, game shoots etc. My father would not be seen dead in one!

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    1. Thanks for the note about flat caps, Sue. For some reason I've always imagined them with cocky kids and laborers. Perhaps the image comes from old movies.

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  15. A great photo and beautiful essay, but you forgot that those overalls had to be washed regularly for them to acquire that soft crumpled look. Your great-grandmother surely knew the contents of his pockets, the small tears that needed mending, and the texture of the denim as she ironed them.

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    1. Thanks for the compliment, Mike. You are so right about my g-grandmother's role in developing those overalls into something comfortable to wear! How could I have forgotten her when talking about Pap's overalls? Of course she would have played a part in their "life," too.

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I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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