Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Way Back Machine


The time: Circa 1958
The place: The Hotel Baker, St. Charles, Illinois

I'm guessing on the date of this photo but certainly it's in the mid to late 1950's as evidenced by the clothing and the hats!

On the right is my grandmother Martha Anne, seated with her friend, also named Martha. They were both milliners and had vast hat wardrobes. They loved nothing better than getting all dolled up and going out on the town. In this case it was to enjoy brunch.

The Hotel Baker is still standing and has recently gone through a multi-million dollar makeover restoration. It's a stunning example of the Moorish architecture popular during the 1920's. It's only about 12 miles as the crow flies from our home and they still serve brunch. I invite you to look at the video of the hotel. Although this was certainly produced as a marketing piece for the property, it also includes some spectacular views of the beautiful Fox River Valley. St. Charles is typical of many lovely river towns up and down the Fox.

The Hotel Baker from Hotel Baker on Vimeo.

The commentaries found on the back of a photo are sometimes more interesting as the front. My grandmother and my mother both had their say on this image.


At the top in my grandmother's handwriting it says, "My girlfriend here. She is dying with cancer. This was made 5 years ago in the Hotel Baker in St. Charles. We had brunch."

At this point I'm thinking, huh? I can do the math and she must have wrote this in 1963. Dying of cancer? I know for a fact that she lived until 1978 or 1979.

In my mother's handwriting it says, "Martha (She did not die!!"", and indeed she didn't until many years later.

Relationships between mothers and daughters can sometimes reveal themselves in the comments on the back of photographs.


Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Another interesting journey to watch the video.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Very artsy and well done video, too. Makes me want to go stay awhile.

chocolatechic said...

I am loving that fox??? stole around her neck.

Totally gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

Mmm-hmm.... amazing to me how my memories and my mother's or sister's can differ when discussing the same instance from 30 or 40 years ago. Your 'she didn't die' on the postcard would be a perfect example.

The Blue Ridge Gal

Suzanne said...

Vee - I loved the video. It has an artsy feel as you've said. I like the fact that there's no narration, allowing you to create your own mental story. I'm going to have to get into town and take my own photos.

Chocolatechic - No, I'm sure those are mink pelts draped around her shoulders. I do have my grandmother's black wool cape generously trimmed in black fox fur. So dramatic , but then my grandmother was all about the drama!

The Blue Ridge Gal - Yeah, my mom was calling out my grandmother on that comment!!!

Farmchick said...

I love the clothing in this picture. Especially the hats. Wonderful

LDF said...

I'm a child of the 50s, and I still miss hats and gloves. Not so much pelts around the neck and shoulders, but definately hats and gloves. They were so ... elegant! dramatic! We don't dress up enough these days. Used to be we ladies never went to town ... never mind church! ... in casual dress. You're so lucky your family wrote on the back of that photo. My family never did that, so I have photos that can't be identified.

Trish said...

What a precious photo. And you are right...comments on the back of photos and keepsakes are more special than the item itself sometimes.

BittersweetPunkin said...

What a lovely photo and a story...the look very stylish indeed.

jeanne said...

Susanne, I love the video and the hotel is stunning. I want to go there. Your photo is priceless. When I was a teen in the late 50's we would dress up to go shopping and lunch on Lincoln Road, Miami Beach. Our mother would take us (me and my sisters)and we wore hats, gloves, the works. I wish I had a photo of that time. The note on the back of the photo is interesting. 'She didn't die' is a hoot and I'm very glad she didn't.


Louise said...

The commentary on the back, by both mother and daughter IS telling. I've never seen that before (but I don't have access to a lot of old photos). Wonderful picture.

Lady of the Cloth said...

Fun post, I love old pictures. You wanted an update on weather in my world. Well, here in South Western Washington, we haven't had our first freeze yet. I haven't moved my potted plants off the patio and inside the shop for the winter. It is cold (for us) about 50 degrees and sunny. The forcast though is more typical, rain all next week. We may get a week of Real cold weather but it is usually just wet and moderate.
No humidity in this part of the country. It rains, but doesn't feel humid.