Friday, September 14, 2012

Sepia Saturday 143 : English Spoken


Our Sepia Saturday archive image prompt this week features the interior of a busy Australian grocery store in 1944. For a family which comes from a so-called "nation of shopkeepers", shopkeepers are notable by their absence in my ancestral line, and it is to the outside of a shop that I have to go to find a suitable old photograph for Sepia Saturday 143.

It is a photograph of my father (right), mother, and a friend of theirs called Charlie Pitts, and it must have been taken in the mid 1930s. The sign in the window clearly says "English Spoken" and the photograph was taken during a day-trip to Calais in France. I remember my father telling me about the trip many years later. Until we went on a camping holiday to France in the early 1960s, it was the one and only time he had been out of the country. My parents and "Uncle Charlie" would often holiday together on their motorbikes and they have been featured before on my Sepia Saturday submissions. Although my photograph predates the Australian photograph by some ten years, you get the impression that, were you to enter through those sepia doors, there would be the same arrangement of stacked shelves and busy industry.

Move on 30 or so years and the faded sepia gives way to the washed-out colours of a 1960s colour transparency.  This is a photograph taken on that second trip to France and it shows Albert and Gladys sheltering from the sun in their tent on a camp-site at Juan Les Pins in the South of France. I was about 14 at the time and the holiday was a great adventure. After driving through France and sitting in the sun for a couple of days, my poor father had to take to his bed with sunstroke. My mother spent her days, trying to keep insects off the sandwiches and searching for shops with signs saying "English Spoken"

All sorts of languages are spoken by that band of sepia people who each week contribute to the Sepia Saturday Blog. Take a trip to the Sepia Saturday Blog and see what is on offer this week.


25 comments:

  1. How exciting it must have been for your parents to travel to foreign shores at that time. France was the place to be, especially Paris, in the 1930s. Your mother's stylish outfit and the general nonchalant air or the two men, could fool us into thinking they were members of some literary or artistic set.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am not a camper myself so my favorite is the first picture and not only because there is just one left :). It is so typical for that era, your mother's barret (that would be the proper name in Dutch) and the two men smoking. Smoking in those days was very fashionable. I also noted some nice decorations below the shop window. Anyway, thank you for showing these.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The top photo has the mood of an old Hollywood movie, self-consciously sophisticated. You can almost hear someone saying "Dahling, would you please refill my glass?"

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've spent more time than can remember in other countries where an 'English Spoken' signe would have been welcomed. More frustrating though was those places where I have suceeded in 'mastering' their language but all my questions were responded to in English.
    Perhaps your mother, father and Charlie were just resting their feet. I've been camping once and then vowed never again - but it wasn't in the French sunshine, just North East rain.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree with Nell. A very artistic/literary feel to the first photograph. Presumably, Albert acquired the hat after the bout of sunstroke?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your poor father, cut down by sun stroke during a vacation trip.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great pictures and stories, Alan. They rode their motorcycles to France ... that sounds like a lot of fun. I really liked enlarging and looking at all the neat things in the second picture. Too bad that your Dad got sick, but I bet that was an awesome trip otherwise. Cary's mom gave me a couple of those little "food tents" shown on the table in front of you Mom. I guess they are older than I thought.

    Thanks for the post!

    Kathy M.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Intrepid adventurers for their time. I don't think my family had got any further than Skegness by the 1960s!

    ReplyDelete
  9. That is SOME tent! My idea of roughing it is staying in a hostel, thank-you very much. I'm always grateful that shopkeepers where I have traveled speak English (yeah, ugly American!).

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've never enjoyed tenting for a holiday. I've done lots of tenting but it had other purposes...hunting, travelling, backpacking. The tent was just a convenient shelter.
    Interesting how these old photos had so much detail.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What fun adventures for them. Although heatstroke or sunstroke not so good. I have to agree with Little Nell and Martin too. But Mr. Charlie Pitts (wonder if the children ever teased him with that name) but I think you've mentioned him before maybe? His name sticks with me for some reason! Enjoy your weekend Alan!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Alan; today a trip to France is nothing special. Then it has been exciting for the young people. One dressed up for travelling, not today anymore, one wears the most comfortable clothes for travel.I have never camped, but I know in the sixties it was popular to go camping to France. Some people in Switzerland go every weekend grocery shopping to France,pushing 2 trolleys through the aisles!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've never seen such a colorful tent! It made me sad to know that the 2nd trip was marred by sunstroke and insects. The first picture is just wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Now following, Alan. I must say that I, too, favour the first photo, I suppose because of its "cosmopolitan" atmosphere. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great photograph!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Those types of tents appear in backyards all over the area where I live. Kids love to have a get-away from the moms and dads. Our kids used to camp outside but more than once I have heard them snick back into the house during the night, having gotten frightened by an owl or some kind of bird. Like that first photo.
    QMM

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh my! Sunstroke! Your poor dad! My husband comes from a family of campers. Me? Not so much. So I've had to adapt. Yes, it's pretty fun, but I am always glad to get back to civilization. And ya, insects and camping seem to go together unfortunately. I don't envy your mom spending her days keeping insects away. No fun!

    ReplyDelete
  18. How awful for your father to get sunstroke while camping! When I was 13, my family took our one & only camping trip to Panama City Beach, Florida during one of the hottest summers on record. It was so hot we would all pile in the car and ride around with the air conditioner on to cool off.

    The first picture of your parents is wonderful. It captured a moment - they were young and vacationing in another country. How exciting it must have been. I like their style, they look both artistic and sophisticated.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Another splendid time machine travelogue, Alan. I like the contrast in holiday attire, as I doubt your parents would ever have imagined in the 1930s that they would one day return to France dressed in shorts and sandals. And much less stay in such a garish tent!

    Did English Shops in Dover ever have "français parlé" in the windows?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh the story of that second trip sounds so very funny, which I'm sure at the time it wasn't. Somehow the truly annoying things end up making such good travel stories. Sort of "I Went to France and Survived."

    ReplyDelete
  21. Une insolation est certainement quelque chose de serieux.
    Dommage que votre pere ait souffert ainsi durant un si beau voyage.
    Need I translate?!?
    (English spoken, upon request...)
    ;)~
    HUGZ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (shouts loudly in the way that English People do when they are in foreign lands) VERY FUNNY MY FRIEND

      Delete
    2. Yeah, I think I am, this early on a Monday morning.
      Oh boy!!
      Off 2 work!!
      ;)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  22. I love the photo of your parents in their "gypsy" tent. What an adventure. Too bad it was spoiled by heat stroke.
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
  23. I like the second photo most! So recognizable! Our family started camping in the late fifties. We went on bikes and stayed in the Netherlands. Always having great fun and adventures.

    ReplyDelete