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
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

The Family Portrait

15 October 2021


It's a classic portrait of a young family. A husband and wife pose with their two children, a daughter, perhaps at age three or four, and an infant, a boy (maybe?) that is only a few months old. The photographer has caught their full attention and successfully directed them to look beyond the camera lens. The result is a happy photograph full of love and hope.
But this cabinet card photo was glued to plain card stock that has no imprint of the photographer's name or location. The mount was then trimmed to fit into a photo album. That album was passed down to younger generations until it met the inevitable fate of most family ephemera — sold at an estate sale. The album's collection of photos, a web of family images linking generations now forgotten, was disassembled into categories. Old tintypes and little carte de visites from the 1860s and 70s were removed from the pages and sold separately. Larger cabinet cards and albumen photos were likewise put aside, destined for some antique shop's 50¢ basket. Tiny snapshots from the 1920s and 30s were just tossed into the trash bin. Only the best photos, like this one, got placed for auction on eBay to see if someone might pay more. And with luck, that someone is me.
Who was this sparkling family? Where did they live? When did they pose for their picture? The only clue is on the back of the photo card mount. A name written in pencil, but marred by scissors that cut off a letter.
Annie Milan_?
Milans? Miland?


Is Annie the mother or the daughter?  Maybe Annie was given the photo as  a gift and was a cousin or friend. Alas, her name is not enough to solve this small mystery. All we can do is admire their bright pleasant faces. 
And the tuba.

Father keeps a firm grip on his tuba, which rests upright on the floor, as his young babe is cradled in the instrument's bell. It's an E flat model with three piston valves. (The tuba, not the child.)  The young man wears a dark band uniform which has collar pins with the initials AFM that mark him as a professional member of the American Federation of Musicians union. Unfortunately the grainy quality of the print hides the musician's local union number on his cap badge which could have identified his location. The only other clue is the little girl's white hair bow, a fashion that was popular around 1900 to 1910.

Despite the unknown elements, the photo remains a fine example of a family portrait. And at the same time, it's a whimsical occupational photo that no pianist, violinist, or trumpet player would ever attempt with their instrument.
 For more photos of babes in tubas, try these stories:
The Bassic Baby Carrier
Another Tuba Baby
Tuba Babies




This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where every weekend is a family day.


smkelly8 said...

A terrific photo. They're so fresh faced.

Barbara Rogers said...

I love the similar looks in the eyes of mum and the two children. It's a good thing that you found this family portrait with tuba...and shared it here for whatever connection might happen.

DawnTreader said...

So that's where babies come from! ;) - Really good portrait, and seeing the whole image, I can understand why it would be considered a collector's item. At the same time, it does seem a shame that photos belonging together should be scattered...

ScotSue said...

i did enjoy your teasing post, where we had towait to the end to see the musical instrument. I cannot imagine you writing a post, without featuring one!

La Nightingail said...

A perfect post to match the prompt! Love the baby in the tuba! :)


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