Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Sepia Saturday always makes me think about the photos in my collection, and sometimes go hunting for something that I feel will match the prompt. This week’s prompt shows one woman serving coffee to another, and I knew right away that I would be looking for kind faces. These two faces feel very “grandmotherly” to me.

This 4″x5″ photo was taken by G. Ashby Short Photo in Bridgeport, West Virginia. The phone number on the back has an area code which dates it after 1947 when the first area codes were implemented. For international visitors, North American telephone numbers have a three-digit area code which indicates a metro area, then a seven digit number which is specific to the phone or house. Area codes were rolled out nationwide by 1960. Here’s a little tidbit I didn’t know about area codes. The lower digit codes were assigned to large metro areas such as New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, because the rotary dial did not have to travel as far to return to the “home” position before dialing the next digit, i.e. they were faster to dial. The original Los Angeles area code was 213. It is still in use but we have numerous additional area codes in use to handle the millions of phone numbers needed in this densely populated area. The photographer was alive as recently as 1984, when I found a record of him making a memorial donation in the name of his ancestors to the Harrison County West Virginia Historical Society. (It is amazing what you can find on the internet these days!)

This is an unidentified 6″x9″ portrait of a truly kind faced woman. The photographers, Jenks Bros, were in business in Freeport, Stephenson County, Illinois between 1901 to 1930. Freeport is a small town in northern IL, founded in 1838. This lady looks an awful lot like someone’s grandmother, with her beautiful pearl necklace, delicate lace collar and soft cheeks.

For more inspiration brought about by one woman pouring tea for another, click over to Sepia Saturday. You will be glad you did!

Kindly click here

12 thoughts on “Kind faces

  1. Sharon says:

    I can’t really say why but the first lady looks like she would have a good sense of humour and be a little cheeky. The second lady looks like she has experienced sadness and is very wise.


  2. Wendy says:

    These 2 ladies look like they’d be quite accustomed to serving tea in silver. The history of the area codes is very interesting.


  3. postcardy says:

    The first lady looks kind of mischievous. The second lady reminds me of my grandmother.


  4. Alan Burnett says:

    You are exactly right. I kept flicking from the prompt photograph to the two you feature. There are many similarities, and you are perfectly correct, the common feature seems to be kindness


  5. You chose two wonderful photos for today; thank you!

    Kathy M.


  6. Little Nell says:

    Lovely and unusual response to the prompt. I think you are right about the kindness in these ladies’ faces. You can also see how pretty they were in their youth.They may have been grandmothers of course but I bet they were younger then we first thought they were. In those days hairstyle etc made women look old quite early on.


  7. Bob Scotney says:

    Two fine photos and a string of pearls included. I can’t make up my mind about the second lady – wistful or sad?


  8. kristin says:

    I don’t know Nell, that first one especially has quite a few wrinkles. I think she may have been coloring her hair. The second one was actually not a grandmother. She was a maiden lady who worked at the local library.


  9. The pearl necklace seems to have what we called a lavelier on it. I had two of them. One had a diamond with three pearls and the other had a purple stone with a natural looking pearl suspended. Very lovely pictures!


  10. Interesting..I do see kindness in the last ladies face..they are both pretty spiffed up..I hardly ever saw my Grandma dressed up fancy..a house dress and an apron except on Sunday. I wonder who the beautiful pearls were from..her son..or maybe her husband..:)


  11. Shane Schumacher says:

    I recently bought 2 6×9 photographs in vintage electro plate frames of an older man and the other of an older woman. The bottom right hand corner is written Jenks Bros 1943. I have found limited info on this and am curious if anyone has some insight they could offer. Thank you.


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      I’m sorry to say you know about ad much as me. I could not find very much either.


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