I always wonder about people who see history as a mirthless, somber darkland where everything is dull, black and white and motionless. Of course the shallow perception comes in part from old photographs-unanimated in the viewer’s eye by imagination, warm memory and a sense of humor.
Here’s a real break from that way of seeing the past sent to us from about 1905 by George Hale and his family. The Hale’s raised raspberries in the Fife Valley and that’s George in his field looking back at the camera in the last photo. Those are his kids and nieces getting their pictures taken as Huck Finn and little guests at a dinner of pickles. The older Hale and Danner sisters are posed for a radiant summer day portrait that defines timeless beauty. And in the first shot George stands between his two playful brothers on a fruit scale with a twinkle in his eye and a smile under his mustache that absolutely defies formality and dull seriousness. His handwritten caption on the photo is” A Big [Spludge] on a Small Scale / or In the family weigh”. Not every family included the Marx brothers but that doesn’t mean some didn’t try.