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This photo is taken from a book I own entitled,
The Dog Album, Studio Portraits of Dogs and Their Owners
Gary E. Eichhorn and Scott B. Jones
My grandmother, Mary Ann Davison (nee Polland)
Mary Ann came from a long line of animal-lovers. There are photographs of her mother with rabbits on her lap, dogs, kittens, cows, chickens, sheep, horses, donkeys – even foxes have been pets to the Polland Clan.
It’s no surprise then, that my father was a huge animal-lover and particularly of dogs. He would stop to greet anyone who was walking a dog and fearlessly would approach them (the dog, not the owner!) – open-handed to suggest he was not to be feared. They would always end up alongside him, tails wagging, or even leaping up to lick his face.
So it is, that I seem to have inherited this trait. I am The Dog Whisperer of my family. Dogs love me! Even though I don’t have a dog myself, nor have I ever had one for more than a week, I have a true way with dogs.
Recently, I’ve been taking photographs around my home-town and I’ve managed to get a few shots of local dogs. If you visit My Little Town, Elora, you can see Hayley and Beazley, the Schipperkes, Indigo, the blue-grey Labradoodle, and Duke, the Blue-heeler pup. Those are the ones I’ve taken – so far.
Strangely, until just a few years ago, I had never had the sheer delight of handling a puppy. It was while I was at my local vet’s office that I had the opportunity to hold a very young pug. I felt like a new mother must feel. It was absolute elation that came over me.
My husband tells me that a veritable glow emanates from me when I am in the presence of a dog. I must say that there is a true joy I feel when I have the chance to embrace the bulk of a dog, or scratch a silken ear. When I have been nuzzled by a great wet nose, or allowed to rub a furry belly, I am filled with great peace and I thank God for the gift of the Dog.
I’m sure I have come by this ability and love directly through my blood-lines. Just look at the contentment on my grandmother’s face, and the blissful repose of the lucky dog on her lap!
Me, with two cousins, Stewart and Burton “out East Bay” in Cape Breton, NS. (Flip and Pal are our companions.)
On my honeymoon – on the Strand at Galway Bay -
a new friend, “Penny” the Irish Setter.
On a visit to Kevin’s Godfather’s Turkey Farm, I was surrounded by dogs. This little fella really enjoyed a belly-rub, and as you can see, I was having a great time too!
In 2008, we went to a local organic farm, and met Winston. He was a great dog and stuck with me for most of the tour.
You’d never guess that I own three cats, would you? Lucky for me, our neighbourhood is chock full of canines! On either side we have Gus, the Labradoodle, Miley, the Newfoundland, and Nellie, the Standard Poodle. (Photos to come, I’m sure!)
Miley (February 4, 2012)
The Clonard in Belfast.
It’s very likely, that my father, William Henry, known to his friends and family as “Hoick”, would at one time or other have entered these Colosseum-like doorways, fished a few pence out of his pocket and slid them through the hole in the glass window where, an older hand was waiting to drag them across the counter and slip them into a till.
Both my father and my mother had an abiding love of movies. My mother still does. All his life, “Harry” (who became “Bill” once he crossed the Atlantic) craved the thrill of a good western, war picture or gangster-film. I remember, when I was nine years old, he took me to see, “The Battle of Britain”. He loved every single minute of it, and so did I!
He had his favourites: actors and actresses like, Jimmy Cagney and Edward “G” (Robinson), the “Singing Cowboy”, Gene Autry, and Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Hedy LaMarr, Joan Fontaine, and Grace Kelly – he loved them all!
There were a few movies in particular that I associate with my father and I have seen most of them, all but one that he thought was great.
This was 1939’s “Gunga Din”. My father would have been 12 at the time he saw this action/adventure/war flick. It starred Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine and Victor McLaglen (who had done a brilliant turn in John Ford’s, “The Informer”) and Sam Jaffe as an Indian (he was actually Jewish – born, “Shalom Jaffe”).
Loosely based on the poem of the same name, by Rudyard Kipling, it appealed to my father for his entire life. Whenever discussion of great movies was on the table, “Gunga Din” was always mentioned. Every time.
Reproduced interior of The Savoy, in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.
Meanwhile, in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, my mom, Alice (“Betty”) Harris and her sister, Joan were pleading with their father (my grandfather, Guy Wheelock Harris). “Have you got any money, for us to go to the pictures, Daddy?” They’d ask. “Well now. Let me see.” He’d say, and he’d fish around in his big pants’ pockets and is if by magic, produce a few coins for his two daughters.
Off they’d go to see the latest show and thanks to their father, they’d have a bit extra for some toffee. It was the Victorian-style, Savoy Theatre where they saw all sorts of wonderful things!
They were not allowed to see anything risque. Their father had been raised a Baptist, but converted to Catholicism and between the two philosophies, they were prevented from seeing hot Jane Russell in 1943’s, “The Outlaw”. One of mom’ and Joan’s favourites is the 1945 biopic of Robert Schumann entitled, “A Song to Remember” and they were still quite young, so they must have seen that in secret. (She will correct me when she reads this, if I’m mistaken.)
Among their long list of favourite actors were Tyrone Power, Glen Ford Paul Henreid and Cornell Wilde. (Not my idea of heart-throbs, but they certainly set the Harris Girls’ hearts fluttering!)
Mom is quite a movie afficionada. At 82, she still enjoys all the old shows, but is not averse to watching something new – even if it has subtitles!
Asked to choose her very favourite, she will tell you, “Gone With the Wind” and “Waterloo Bridge”.
I have very catholic tastes when it comes to films, myself. From my father, I inherited that love of a good war movie like, “Bridge on the River Kwai”, and I adore westerns. One of my top 25 films of all time is, “Once Upon a Time in the West”. I love Cagney in “White Heat”, and like my mom, I really enjoy the song-and-dance musicals of the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
My movie-theatre home as a child was a large picture-house that was attached to the local mall. I spent hours there both with my parents and my friends.
I think the legacy has been passed down, thanks to the great cinemas of old such as the Clonard and the Savoy.
My dream would be to own an old movie theatre in a small town somewhere and have enough money to just run all the old movies I love. Wouldn’t that be great?
This is a Sepia Saturday post. Please visit to read other great memories inspired by old photos.
Mabel Wilson Fenwick, circa 1912.
My husband’s great-grandmother, Mabel was born in 1867, in Delgany, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. She was the daughter of a British-Army Colonel by the name of Augustus Wilson, and Adelaide Elizabeth Badham-Thornhill, descendant of Henry Badham Thornhill of Castle Kevin in Cork. (My husband’s obviously the one with the wealthy, Irish side; I come from the northern peasants!) (More on the Wilsons in the weeks to come.)
Some time between 1871 and 1891, Mabel came to Canada with her father and mother and seven siblings. There is no Census for 1881 with her name on it, that I can locate.
In 1898, she married Thomas Emery Fenwick, a well-to-do textiles-merchant, originally from Richmond, Yorkshire in England, It was her first marriage, and his third (he was twice widowed). They set up house in Hochelaga (now Montreal) and had two children of their own, along with two of Thomas’ from an earlier marriage.
The Fenwicks eventually moved to York, Ontario (now Toronto) where Thomas set up his business, and they had another child—a daughter, Edith Barbara “Betty"—my husband’s grandmother.
Mabel was always well turned out and I suppose this hat could be considered the height of fashion to some, but to me, it appears that she’s about to lift off!
I have taken the liberty of adding a couple of lines to an old children’s rhyme below:
Mabel, Mabel, if you’re able,
Take your elbows, off the table,
And when you’ve finished doing that,
Please remove that frightful hat!
I’m joking! Hats off to my husband’s great-grandmother, Mabel Wilson Fenwick, who had the panache to carry off such prominent headgear in the early 20th Century! Talk about your FASCINATORS!
Visit the Sepia Saturday blog where you’ll find tons more fascinating things to read and photos to peruse.
Me, in one of my many hats – literally!
I found a photo of a hat that has the winged element of Mabel’s hat. This one makes Mabel’s look good! I’m still looking for the actual one.
Photo borrowed from http://dorotheascloset.com
Now to the real story:
You must all have a look at this! My husband and I saw a television program about this artist some time ago and I’ve been meaning to post about him.
Chilean-born, now Toronto-based, Rafael Goldchain, has transformed himself into members of his own family. By using costume and artistry and photography, he has created his own ancestral photos!
I just had to share this!
Rafael Goldchain website
Rafael Goldchain blog
I would LOVE to be able to do this. Imagine the possibilities!
Anybody good with Photoshop, or Corel Draw? I need a tutor!
(photos coming soon!)
St. Anne’s Church, Glace Bay, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, 1939.
My uncle, Jimmy Harris, is dead-centre in this photo which originally appeared in “The Cape Breton Post” and his first cousin and best pal, Neil F. McNeil, named after his grandfather, ( The Patriarch of an earlier post) is directly to his left. Don’t they just look as if “butter wouldn’t melt” in those mouths? You’ll notice that Jimmy isn’t making much of an effort to put those palms together in prayer. And Neil is the picture of innocence, isn’t he?
Well, these two were notorious for ice-clamper- (the Cape Breton word for icebergs) jumping in Glace Bay Harbour (this particular activity still has its own CB vernacular and is known as “skooshing”), hanging around the railroad tracks, playing hookey to spend the day in the woods and later on, shooting pool and smoking cigarettes. If you’ve ever seen the opening number from “The Music Man” then you can just apply that “Trouble” song to these two angelic faces in this photo.
At least one of the boys in this group photo ended up as a priest. It certainly wasn’t my uncle who, got kicked out of the University of Dalhousie, joined the Navy for four years, and finally returned to successfully complete his degree.
According to my aunt Kay, who is in her late 80s, Jimmy and Neil were also known as pretty good musicians. Jimmy used to play the piano (by ear) and Neil could blow a mean trumpet. Jimmy’s favourite music has always been, and still is, Jazz.
Now, the only way I can link this to the SS challenge, is to say that my uncle Jimmy was always known around our house as, “The Masher”. Not because he was a Ladies’ Man. No! It was because he was a dab-hand with a potato-masher and we always let him have a go at the spuds when he was at our house for a holiday dinner.
Jimmy and Neil were 12 at the time this picture was taken. On December 26, Jimmy will turn 85. He’s still got a devilish grin and a mischievous twinkle in the eyes and has some great stories to tell about his rebel-days.
(on the back: “Taken in Dublin, Ireland in or near the month of July 1952)
Taken by Kat in June of 1994 while on honeymoon.
After extensive Googling of maps and even a virtual “stroll” along O’Connell Street in Dublin, I have come to the conclusion that, were the men in the foreground of both of these pictures to somehow come together in a time-space continuum, they would pass each other on the street.
By determining the placement of statues on said O’Connell Street, I have deduced that my father is approaching the statue of Daniel O’Connell (with angels). I cropped a copy of the original (see below) to find that the statue in the background of his photo is that of Sir John Gray, a man who supported both, O’Connell and Charles Parnell. In fact, it was Gray himself who was responsible for the statue of O’Connell on what was then, Sackville Street. Gray’s is the second statue on the street as you proceed north, after Parnell’s.
The white-haired man, is standing opposite the statue of O’Connell that is adorned with the bullet-ridden, bronze, winged-victories (courtesy of the Easter Uprising and other conflicts between 1916 and 1922). I can easily imagine him crossing the road to find the pavement on the east side where the shops are.
By my reckoning, were my dad and the white-haired man to proceed at a clip (that was my father’s way, and the determination in his face and the angle of that left hand tells me he was true to form on this occasion), they would pass each other across the road from the William Smith O’Brien statue.
O’Brien, interestingly, was a Protestant who was a member of the Young Ireland movement. In 1848 he was convicted of sedition for his support of Catholics. He was deported to what was then known as “Van Diemen’s Land”, but is now called Tasmania and part of Australia.
Coincidentally, when my Catholic father left the British Army in 1953, he considered emigrating to Australia. Fortunately for me, he did not do so, and settled instead on emigrating to Canada where he met my mother, and the rest is history (as most of you know).
On the other hand, this white-haired fellow looks as if he just might be heading to the pub. In which case, I’m pretty sure my dad would be keen to join him and wet his whistle on this summer’s day in an alternate universe. They might even share a slab of “Mackintosh’s Toffee” since my dad was also quite partial to it.
What the heck! If there’s going to be some Toffee involved, then I’m going to find a Tardis and see if I can join them!
(click to enlarge and see the Gray statue)
A really great website I discovered in my travels is IRISH HISTORY LINKS where you can find lots of other photos of Dublin through the years.
Don’t forget to visit the Sepia Saturday Blog to read and enjoy other articles and photos of great interest.