Friday, January 08, 2010

Sepia Saturday : My Longtown Sweethearts



Two Sepia Saturday pictures for the price of one today. Both come from the collection of my very late Uncle Fowler (he died over fifty years ago) and date back to the time he spent in Longtown, Cumbria in the early years of the twentieth century. Uncle F (actually he was my mothers' Uncle, but he was always known as Uncle Fowler by everyone in the family) was a textile mechanic by trade and for a time he moved away from his native West Yorkshire to live and work near the Scottish borders. He was the person responsible for the bulk of my vintage postcard collection - although I have added to it - but he also passed on a number of photographs which were printed - as was the fashion at the time - with "postcard" backs. The two photographs show girls posing with bicycles, indeed, the two poses are so similar for a time I thought they might be the same girl.

There are scribbled notes on the back of both photos. On the first (the studio shot) is written "Miss M Spiers, Chamber Maid, (see the other)". On the second (the outdoor shot) is written "Miss E Pearson, Cook at Mr James Grangham, Longtown". So here we have it : Fowler, at the time just over 30 years old, single and living away from home, with pictures of two charming young ladies. He never married, so his Longtown love - whether Miss E or Miss M - must have been left behind in Cumbria when he returned to West Yorkshire, But which one was it? There is normally an unsolved mystery in these Sepia Saturday posts of mine : but not in this case. On the reverse of the photograph of the outdoor Miss E, in the spidery hand of an old man, is written "She was my Longtown Sweetheart". I like to think of Uncle Fowler, as an old man living in Keighley, thumbing through his photograph collection and finally making his decision.



Let me know if you have a Sepia Saturday post and I will add you to the following list.

21 comments:

  1. What a shame he never married. Miss E does seem to have a slightly less stern look about her (to me, at least). Also, the fact that she is actually outside would indicate perhaps she was a bit more of a free spirit.
    I love your musing about his decision. Charming.

    I'll be posting tomorrow. I've done a haiku, a recipe post and a Blast From the Past today. I'm tuckered out!

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  2. A potent combination, your Uncle Fowler and two lively ladies with their own transport! Lovely story. More of the same please.

    Count me in for Sepia Saturday.

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  3. I adore vintage photos of girls with bicycles. And you've got two in your family collection!

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  4. I guess in those days young ladies & bike riding might have been considered quite "racey"?[demi-pun?].

    p.s. count Me In! My Post Is Up.

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  5. I wonder what the young ladies would have thought if they'd known they'd be on a blog all these years later?

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  6. I just want to know how they managed to peddle in those long coats! I really must dig out my sepia . . .

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  7. The two photos are really interesting both on the clothing that they are wearing and also the bicycles they are ready to ride. The old shots are really fascinating.

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  8. Hi Alan, I posted mine just now.

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  9. Count me in...I've just posted!

    Love the 2 ladies and their bikes...and especially the old squiggly writing on the back of the second! Awww..cute.

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  10. Two very nice pictures, even if they are just posed.

    As Banio says, it would be difficult riding the bike in that outfit! If the coat caught up in the rear wheel Miss E could have been no more!

    I have a photo somewhere of my great-aunt riding a tandem with great-uncle on tour in the Lake District, and she is wearing "knickerbockers" as they called them, but that picture is for later.

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  11. ah thats sweet. These are great photos - hard to imagine that it was quite daring, women riding a bike.

    I'll be joining in Sepia Saturday today!

    :-)

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  12. 'Tis always a challenge to I.D. a picture but here you've the info at hand. Very good :)

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  13. count me in my contribution to sepia saturday will be up in two shakes!!

    I've long been a fan and have thought 'wouldn't it be fun' - what a better time to start playing than in the new year!

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  14. Delightful tale of long-ago romancing. I'm especially enamored of the writing on the backs.

    I've got a sort-of-sepia Saturday up!

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  15. I love vintage photos, too. So after reading Kim's post at Mouse Medicine and making my way here to find out what you were doing, I decided to play along.

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  16. This is such a touching story. I wonder if they kept in touch over the years. I like your uncle's name...Fowler is very unusual. Happy Saturday : )

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  17. So your the one that started this, Alan? Great idea. I just learned of it from Kimy/Mouse and have posted mine. I love both of your photos, and images of women of that era with such long, complex clothing on bikes always intrigue me. Lucky that I was not born a woman back then since I probably would have killed myself trying to ride!

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  18. how sweet that note on the back. cool story adn great pics alan!

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  19. Alan, I posted some sepias for Sepia Saturday. Nice bicycle photos!

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  20. These are great finds. It is amazing, then as now that fashion trends become quintasincial of a time. -J

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  21. Love these pictures- it is amazing to see how people used to dress- so unbelievably different from now- I often wonder what these ladies would think of the hot pants and tank tops of today? :)

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