Showing posts with label James Burns McPherson Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Burns McPherson Family. Show all posts

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sepia Saturday 189, 2013 August 10: What to Wear in that New-Fangled Contraption

"What's that contraption?"  as a prompt is a good one, however what took my eye was the way they couple was dressed.  In my great grandparent's day, one didn't venture forth to ride in those new-fangled contraptions in just any old clothes.  Such an outing was an event, and must be considered so.


Courtesy of  the JGH & Roots"n'Leaves Archives

Here you see members of my McPherson family on a family auto outing.  Based on the photo and the information in my Uncle Ralph's letters, it appears that this was a new car purchased by either Clare McPherson (back row, left) or Walter McPherson (who was most likely taking the photograph).  My great grandparents, James B and Libby,  never owned a car and depended upon their sons for automobile travel.  They were more comfortable with the horse-drawn wagon or surrey.

Bundled into the car were my great grandparents James B. and Libby McPherson, their son Walter and his wife Grace, sons Donald, Bud and Lyle;  and James and Libby's youngest  son  Clare.  Their destination was Monticello, Minnesota, to visit Aggie Fiske (the eldest daughter of James and Libby), her husband Clive and their family.  The trip would likely have taken a half a day or more from their home near Crow Wing Lake, which was about 150 miles north of Monticello.  They would have stayed at least overnight, and probably for a couple of days before heading home.

I would venture to say that the photo was taken as the Crow Wing Lake folks were preparing to return home because they look like rather neat and tidy which is not what one would expect after a 5 hour or so drive from their homes up north.  As you can see, the Fiske family's apparel is casual, everyday clothing, while those in the auto are neatly and stylishly dressed in warm clothes for the trip. Although Grace's attire is not visible, I am sure she was properly dressed for the occasion.    Most pictures of my great grandfather James B McPherson show him in bibbed overalls, so he too was well dressed for the occasion.

circa 1919, l to r: Clive Fiske, Olive Leone Fiske, Aggie (McPherson) Fiske,
and Henrietta Elizabeth (Libby) McPherson
Courtesy of  the JGH & Roots"n'Leaves Archives
The above picture appears to be taken after the first group photo, however, Libby, appears to be wearing a similar outfit for travel, which makes sense as they would have most likely taken the auto to visit her daughter Aggie and family.  Libby, as did most women when they rode in the automobile, most likely wore a grey scarf to hold her hat in place as well as protecting her from dust, dirt and grime.

According to all reports, Libby was a frugal woman who could squeeze a penny to make a nickel.  So I would guess that she made her driving outfit and took the pattern from a picture in a mail order catalog, such as the one below:

It looks to me like Libby patterned her outfit, with modifications, on the $4.35 number in the top row. Taffeta was one of the more popular fabrics used in this type of dress, and, to me, hers does look like taffeta.  Her daughter-in-law Grace was a fashion conscious woman and more than likely had a newly purchased driving suit.  In fact, Grace owned a stylish millenery store in Canada a few years before these pictures were taken.

The following  pictures  reminded me of how I imagined family visits in my great-great grandparent's time.  My McPhersons would travel the length and breadth of state after state to visit a relative and automobile travel made it much easier to travel great distances.
Courtesy of
1920 Centerdoor SedanCourtesy of "The Henry Ford", 2006
I a particularly fond of the following picture.  These folks really knew how to dress for a drive through the countryside.
1920s An Outing in Hawaii
Courtesy of the State of Hawaii, Dept of Transportation

In my Uncle Ralph's description of preparing for the 1922 trek from Minnesota to California, he told how their family tied all of their belongings on the sides, back, and on top of the car, as well as some necessary extras wired under the car.  That was in addition to whatever they could carry inside the car  -- along with two adults, seven children and a dog.  So this family in Hawaii may have only been packing for a weekend or so.
A Hawaiian Outing
Courtesy of the State of Hawaii, Dept of Transportation

The next four pictures were taken in about 1927 just after my grandparents made their second trip out to California in just four years.  During that short interval of time, automobile travel had changed and for my McPhersons,  automobile travel wasn't so much of a social event as a necessary way of travel. The first picture shows my grandparents, Jabez and Elizabeth McPherson, and their younger daughters Verna and Betty.  From the ages of the girls, I would guess that the year was about 1927 and  their baby sister, Olive, is napping in the car.  Based on the family members involved, it appears the photo was taken in or around Calipatria.
1927 Car Gathering
Jabez & Elizabeth McPherson, daughters Verna & Betty;
sitting on the fender is older daughter Margie and her
first husband Cate Watts and an unknown couple on
the bumper of the third car.
Courtesy of JGH & Roots'n;Leaves Archives

circa 1926, My Aunt Helen, at age 12 or so
Courtesy of JGH & Roots'n;Leaves Archives
circa 1929, Olive and Betty on running board,
most likely taken when
my grandparents lived in Oregon
Courtesy of JGH & Roots'n;Leaves Archives

Circa 1926,  Grandparents Jabez and Elizabeth
with daughters Betty and Olive when
they lived in Calipatria
Courtesy of JGH & Roots'n;Leaves Archives

This last picture has nothing to do with my McPherson family, but reminds me of an often told story of my grandfather Frank Sigford.  He was never very comfortable with the automobile, but once the automobile became popular he always had a car.  One of my strongest memories of him was sitting at the driving wheel of his car with his pipe clenched tightly between his teeth and his hands as tightly clenched on the wheel. Anyhow, the story goes like this:  Klamath county roads in the winter and spring looked very much like this picture, but my grandfather insisted on driving his car.  One day he got seriously stuck in the mud.  My grandmother flung a coat over her house dress and apron, went to the barn and harnessed up the horse.  She proceeded to drag my grandfather and his car to solid ground.  She then took the horse to the barn, unharnessed him, and returned to the kitchen to finish whatever she had been doing. Just part of her day. The only thing missing from this picture is my grandmother and her harnessed horse.  By the way, she NEVER learned to drive an automobile, though all of her children took their turn at trying to teach her to drive.
Courtesy of the Model T Collection

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

After my slight digression from the "contraptions,"  take a look to see what other  Sepians had to offer.