Some old photos from Mum's collection.
I have no idea who these people are...this photo was taken in the late 1920's by my maternal grandfather. he took heaps of photos. The depression was setting in and as far as i know this man worked for or lived very close to my grandfather and my mother who was just a baby then. Mum did tell me once who they were. Grandfather and his brother broke horses for a living. They just seemed to "know" horses...something that skipped me. When I think of poverty, for my grandfather and for most the wolf was not too far from the door, and I rather think for this family it might have been even closer...but these kids would have all been well fed, as meat and fresh vegetables were plentiful in the country...these kids would have received a better education by late primary school than what many have by mid high school these days. This may have come by way of a kind teacher or by many cuts of the cane...but the bulk of them would have been able to spell and punctuate, to add figures in their heads that few of us can do these days..no doubt the bulk of them would have been healthy active kids, and barring some childhood diseases few of them would have developed asthma, multiple chemical sensitivity, cancers, and the other many auto immune diseases which seem to be becoming too prevalent amongst our children as a result of chemical overload...
If they had a radio at all it would have been powered by a large car battery which was re charged once a week at a garage as they had no power...I lived in a house for some months with elderly relatives who did this and this was in the 1950's. Most of these kids would have gone on to have four or five kids and have many descendants today. One may have been killed or injured in WW1.
Life would have been hard for this family, but I am not struck by sullen looks at all. What i see is a tight family, and one where the father is quite unconcernedly holding the toddler. Most have hats on to protect against the fierce sun...and like it was for most kids even till the late 60's in the country side...few kids had shoes unless for school or church and they were saved for those occasions.
There would have been few comforts physically, but i feel that there was much comfort in having the love of the family all about. Maybe thats whats missing with too many of us these days.
I am not romanticising as i know how hard it was for my dad who's family were the poorest of the poor in the depression...it was scary hard for years...but dad's brother and two sisters lived till their 90's with full faculties. Dad was killed accidentally and a younger brother died at 9...apart from the hardship they were all healthy as adults and the only time i recall dad going to hospital was when he fell out of a tree and broke his back, but thankfully not his spine, as with Don.
Fewer clothes meant only washing once a week and Monday was set aside for this. Food was simpler...and no doubt this lot had many pots of stew, lots of cabbage, spuds, pumpkin, sweet potato and peas/beans. Bread lasted one day only before it became stale as there were no preservatives and sugar added to it. Most farmhouses had a small fruit orchard so in season and in season only there might be mandarins, oranges, plums all grown organically although no one used that term at all. Clothes were either home made, handed down, or bought locally from locally produced wool and cotton. No formaldehyde was added to the material to make it feel better...this was a time before insecticides and fertilisers were mass produced by Monsanto and others and forced upon the farmers, so they could sell their crops, meat and milk...
My grandfather was called 'doc" locally as when someone broke a bong he had a reputation for being able to set it straight, and it was only when he broke his own leg at 65 from a fall from a horse that a doctor set his leg...and it was crooked after that.
(Grandfather Tom McGoldrick)
There was intolerance and ignorance and cruelty just as there is today, but these days we mask this with a new type of language which has been enforced upon us by the bureaucrats and seeks to confuse the real meaning of things we say and do.
Somehow we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. There were many things that needed to be improved, because life was just too hard for too many, but I somehow think that if I took a family of seven kids and two parents today and compared the facial expressions alongside these kids...I don't think that they would look or consider themselves happier or more loved than this lot.
Just a thought train.