More memories ...
from my mom's photo collection. The photos in this post are all modern copies of older originals, and I do not have the originals. They are all undated.
On the back of this photo, in my mom's handwriting: “Dad in his glory”. That's her
dad, my maternal grandfather, and he's standing up facing the camera. He's in a nursery stock field, presumably on his nursery, which he had while my mom was growing up. Before my mom was born he had tried other occupations (so my mom once told me), including carpentry and taxi driving. I'm not at all sure how he settled on horticulture and a retail nursery. I don't know the other two men, but it looks like they're planting a small bush, so I'm guessing they're employees. My grandfather looks a bit younger than my earliest memories of him, so I'm guessing this was taken in the late '40s.
My mom wrote simply “Dad” on the back of this photo. It's my maternal grandfather, looking about like my earliest memories of him. That would place this somewhere in the mid-'50s. I remember the paper nailed up to the walls in his greenhouse, so I'm guessing that's where this photo was taken. He's wearing the hat and plaid shirt that my memories of him are full of. I can still remember the smell of that hat – an odoriferous combination of sweat, cigarette smoke, beer, and dirt. Those little plants are in “peat pots” – seedling pots made by wetting peat moss, pressing it in a mold, then drying it with heat. These pots are still available today, though pricey, but not in the same quality that I remember growing up. One big advantage of them is that you can plant them right in the ground; the plants roots will grow right through the peat moss, which will eventually deteriorate and disappear. The rightmost plant has just been watered – you can see the dark part where the peat moss is wet. That greenhouse of his, like our old greenhouse, was full of a particular smell that I instantly associate with greenhouses: a sort of hot, wet dirt smell with a hint of rotting wood (the humid greenhouses encourage algae and fungus).
This photo again just has “Dad” written on the back of it. The car is an early '50s Cadillac, looks like '51 or '52. It's license plate is a New Jersey plate, with the silver metal year indicator in the bottom center. Those plates came in several colors; most of them had a white background, but the black background was available for people with dark colored cars. The two small letters on the left, and three bigger ones on the right, were a “tell” for New Jersey plates in the '40s and early '50s. I'm guessing that was my grandfather's car; he liked Cadillacs and Buicks. The photo is out-of-focus, so I can't guess what age he is, but given the model year of the car it's safe to say this was taken in the early '50s.
My mom wrote “Dad, Elinor & Dad” on the back of this one. That seems a bit unlikely! :) Most likely the second “dad” is a typo for “Don”, her brother (and my uncle). That would be my mom on the left (looking to be about 3 or 4 years old), my grandfather in the middle, and my uncle Don on the right. I don't remember that house, and with those interesting awnings I think I would have if I had ever seen it! From my mom's apparent age, this must have been taken in the late '30s: before the U.S. entry to the war, and at the height of the Great Depression. My mom remembered very little of the Great Depression, mostly (she once told me) memories of her parents being worried about having enough good food to eat, and of her father despairing at times of every finding customers for his plants – people who couldn't even buy food to eat are unlikely to be splurging on landscaping. His customers were by definition wealthy people – and those were few and far between in those years...
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