This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
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A Boston Love Story

13 August 2011

A short fiction
on two photographs

‘Oh, thank you for coming over Mrs. Wallace. It is such a trying time to be sure and so many lovely things to go through. You can see I've not made much progress but perhaps with your help we can set the household right.

‘I've just been going through this old chifferobe and looking at all the many pictures and cards in this drawer. Do you like that one? That's Miss Annie herself, she'd be around 22 or so I think. Oh look, here it is on the back, Annie Grace Davidson, August 1895. Don't she look sweet? So dressed up, like for the cotillion ball. Now somewhere I must have seen her sister Geneva's photo but you know how things will go a'missing. Gennie was the younger and only 19 then and oh how proud their folks must have been of the two of them.

‘Now the story I got from old Mrs. Nour, she was the Davidson housekeeper back then way before me. Mr. Davidson ran a printer shop and moved them all over Boston. First in Union Park, and then Washington St., and around this time they was across the harbor over in East Boston, Mass on 53 Eutaw. That's how they come to have their portraits done by this here Charles C. Fisher. He kept a photography studio just a short ways down toward the docks at 74 Meridian St. in East Boston.

‘Now Etta, Mrs. Nour that is, said she thought Mr. Fisher had just started his photo camera studio around that time, maybe 1894, and that maybe he knew Miss Annie. They was about the same age it seems and she probably met him at one of those cycling clubs she used to go on about. That used to be all the rage. Everyone had to have a bicycle. Though how she managed with a dress like that I'd like to know. Not like the short things today.

‘Yes you're right about that. It is a fine picture of her. It's a shame Mr. Fisher gave it up not long afterward, around “02 I do believe. Mrs. Nour said he had to support his mama and little brother and went off to be an insurance man.

‘Seems the day they went to the studio, of course Mrs. Nour went along to carry all the dresses, there was a man getting his photo taken too. Lots of people would do that cause no one had those little box cameras we got today, and you could get a dozen cabinet photos for maybe $2 or $3. Sometimes there was special offers in the paper too. Anyways this man was a musician and he had his cornet. Let me see, where is that picture? Oh here it is in this pile here.

‘Ain't he a handsome one? Now I can't quite recollect what his name was. Is it on the back? No? Now we ought to have Mrs. Nour here to tell us, bless her heart, she was so good with names. Oh she went on about how this gentleman in his white tie and tailcoat took a shine to Miss Annie and Miss Geneva. He stayed around the studio and even played his cornet for them while they was sitting for their portraits.

‘Such a time that was, you could hear so many fine bands then. I wish I could remember his name. I'm not sure he didn't even play with the Boston Symphony orchestra, but you know there was lots of bands and orchestras in Boston then too. Oh when I was a little girl we'd go up to Point of Pines and hear Mr. A.H. Knoll and his fine band. They'd play for hours and he had a lady cornet player too, Miss Marie McNeil. My brother he played the cornet too and he took me to so many concerts. There was the Myles Standish Band up at Nantasket beach. In the summer you'd take the steamer. That band had Herbert L. Clarke who was the best cornet soloist ever, my brother used to say. But there was this Edward LAfricain and his Naval Brigade Band. We heard them a few times at Bass Point. He was a fine cornet player, and I believe he was principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony around this time too. He would have known our young gent here.

‘So as Mrs. Nour told it, this cornet player started to pay court. He came over to their new place when Mr. Davidson moved across the river to Melrose and became the Mr. David G. Davidson, manager of the Melrose Journal!   Miss Annie, she had just then started at the jewelry store. She was the bookkeeper for the longest time, and then later moved up to assistant manager! What's that? Yes I suppose that's where she got all these nice boxes for her things.

‘Anyway Miss Annie was real smitten on him. He got them all concert tickets and took the two sisters out to the parks that summer. Anyway, Mrs. Nour says it went on for a few months till about December. Then something happened. Don't know what exactly, but Mrs. Davidson noticed it first. Mrs. Christie, that's her name, she really kept her eyes on those girls. Well our gent here wasn't quite as smitten on Miss Annie as she thought. It really was young Miss Geneva who had his heart. Well, you know it just about broke that family apart, the way these affairs do.

‘Mr. Davidson wouldn't have none of it though, and he gave that musician a real dressing down. He was a man of few words but Mrs. Nour said what words he had! So that was the end of that. They never saw him again. And for a long while Miss Annie and Miss Gennie didn't get along. But Geneva she took up being a teacher and lived at home for few more years. Then she settled down before the war with that nice man that ran a haberdashery.

‘But poor Miss Annie never took a husband. And now she's gone, it's so sad. Thank the good Lord she had a nice long life. But you know what I found this morning when I was cleaning out this drawer? That photo of him was right on top. Just as neat as if she'd placed it there yesterday. What do you think of that?’

The preceding is a fiction conjured up from an assortment of facts about two unrelated photos from East Boston.

My contribution to Sepia Saturday
Click the link for more enthusiasts
of the stories behind old photographs.


Little Nell said...

Nicely done Mike, I could hear the voices echoing down the years - a true romance.

Postcardy said...

Nice story.

Bob Scotney said...

Fine story Mike. The lady is a beauty. She needs to beware of a man with his hair parted so neatly down the middle.

Tattered and Lost said...

Wonderful story! He does look a bit of a cad.

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

She is a beauty. Nice story telling.

Karen S. said...

I felt like they were speaking right out loud! Very nice story telling and she is lovely and he's not so bad himself!

Jinksy said...

I wonder if August 1895 was a hot as 2011? if so, the lady did well to look cool!

Martin Lower said...

What a great story! Perhaps you have missed your vocation...


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