March 2009 — We’ve come back from a low-budget spring break trip to Springfield, Illinois, where my mother was born. My mother’s father, mother, and sister moved to this state capitol in the early 1930s and my mother was born there in 1932.
With my aunt’s help, we located both houses. I am sharing four pictures – two given me by my aunt – and two I took this morning. Both are of the houses are still there and these pictures were taken more than seventy years apart.
Pictures often tell a family’s history more than words. I am the collector of hundreds of family relics, pictures, documents, dishes, furniture, including a Victrola — full of 78s — most likely from the 19-teens. Lift the cover and there is a metal plate marking “Victrola — Victor the talking machine” and another metal plate which says “WF Norris — The Rexall Store — South Whitley, Indiana.”
The ladies in the photograph (above left) are my step-great-grandmother and my grandmother. The little girl in the black patent leather shoes is my aunt – now eighty – and the tiniest girl is my mother, who will be 77 this month. I estimate the date of the photo on the left above to be summer 1933. The photograph on the right was taken this morning of the same house. What I immediately notice is that both owners have something decorative on the front porch and the gutters on the left side appear to be the same. Surely they have been updated.
The family moved just a few blocks, but to a more affluent street. The photograph at left shows my aunt on the front porch of this second home, which she dearly loved for its fireplace and spacious backyard. The photograph at right was taken this morning. Note that the house appears to have the same door, and possibly the same light fixture. A tiny portico has been added.
Like the late Paul Harvey said, here’s the rest of the story. My grandfather was a successful businessman in Springfield, and his oldest daughter settled well into her school and enjoyed neighborhood chums, My grandmother was also making friends, while my mother was too young to remember much.
My grandmother’s father died unexpectedly, and the family moved to the home place where my great-grand-mother still lived in Whitley County, Indiana. Certainly there were mixed emotions to leave their new home to return to a farmhouse without indoor plumbing. That story is for another day.