Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cranmer Family Chronicles: I.J.

I know I've said this too many times, but I'm going to say it again... I love old family photos. And I’m fortunate that my father kept detailed records of dates and names to accompany most of them. The man in this series of three snapshots is my great grandfather I.J. Cranmer (1868-1931). I forgot about them before unearthing a photo album and rediscovering a piece of my family history. I have only five pictures of I.J. and information on him is scant but I do have a newspaper clipping of his marriage announcement. I've been told that he and his wife divorced a few years later after having three children. I'm also fairly certain that he most likely spent a good portion of his life farming.

Two things jump out at me when I look at these shots: his grin and the bowler hat. I wonder if that hat and suit were the style of the time... was he a naturally snappy dresser or did he dress up for some (probably) expensive photos? How much did it cost him? Today, I personally couldn’t put a price on such items. I had these and several other family photos scanned to be preserved on computer. But there’s still nothing like holding the original that he held, probably smiling to himself, "That’s a damn fine mug!" I'm sure he must have because I can be just as vain on occasions myself.

23 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Hey, snappy dresser indeed. I could see him as an actor in some of those early Hollywood productions.

David Cranmer said...

I never thought of that but he does have that look.

Craig Clarke said...

Indeed, he somewhat resembles Fred Astaire, and I detect a similar twinkle in the eye in that middle shot. Makes me wonder if he was a bit of a rogue?

Off-topic, I'm glad to see you're reading The Last Match. That's my favorite of the Hard Case Crime line.

G said...

The second & third shots he looks quite natural, while in the first one he looks a little bored.

But overall, he looks like a guy whose ready to paint the town.

As for the bowler, that was a common chapeaux for that time period. In my opinion, it gives the person an aura of confidence.

ARCHAVIST said...

He has the hair of a theatrical too - wonderful old pictures.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Always sad to see deserted albums of pics at flea markets. Glad you treasure yours.

Linda McLaughlin said...

If he was a farmer, that suit was probably his Sunday best. Very natty, indeed, and I think typical of the period, though the divorce certainly wasn't. Scandalous! ;) Great photos and I'm glad you're preserving them.

Kieran Shea said...

bowler? the man is smuggling a baked alaska. man, i really am p.o.ed at JFK for killing the hat business in this country. imagine wearing one of those today, my droogs.

David Cranmer said...

Craig, David Dodge is a real find for me. I knew he wrote TO CATCH A THIEF but that was about it. MATCH is sharp storytelling.

G, I might just have to find a hat like this and you’re right that he looked like he was about fun. Sadly, I doubt I will never know.

Archavist, Yeah, I never thought about the hair.

Patti, And why would family sell old pics?

Linda, I owe it to my dad. He collected birth/death certificates, military discharge papers and plenty of photos. The divorce was scandalous because of who she married. But that’s a family secret.

Baked alaska. Ha! And I agree on the hats. I thought Timberlake was bringing back the Sinatra look but it didn’t catch on.

Leah J. Utas said...

A fine looking fellow.

D.A. Riser said...

Love the post, David. It inspired me to track down an article for you that I recalled reading from October 2007 in the WSJ. Here's the link that I think you'll enjoy --

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119214969916756801.html

It's about America's foremost photo detective.

David Cranmer said...

Leah, His first compliment in seventy years. I'm sure he would say thank you.

D.A., Maureen Taylor is quite the detective. Very intriguing article. Thanks.

Josh said...

photo looks awesome man

Greener Bangalore said...

Thats right David...its always wonderful to have old photographs...

David Cranmer said...

Josh, How's Facebook treating you?

Greener, That it is.

Cloudia said...

VERY neat!!
Aloha

Barbara Martin said...

I like your family chronicles, David; and I love old family photos too.

David Cranmer said...

Cloudia, Glad you like them.

Barbara, I have some more family chronicles coming up.... It's a way to keep them alive for me. (Does that sound odd?)

Lana Gramlich said...

It's wonderful to have such mementos for so many reasons. Shots from the beginning of the age of photography are increasingly rare, of course, but there's so much to be said about the subject matter, as well. How wonderful that you have shots of family members like this!

Sarah Laurence said...

You are lucky to have such and interesting record of your ancestors. Your great grandfather appears to have a good sense of humor. How hard it must have been to hold the smile for the long exposure.

Back when I did darkroom photography, I tried to recreate the old photo feel with lighting, props, slow exposure and sepia tone. Digital photography is easier, but old photos have their unique charm.

David Cranmer said...

Lana, The oldest photo I have is from circa 1885 and it shows the entire Cranmer family including I.J.
Old photos are special but without children I’m starting to feel that the legacy will be lost. I will pass them onto a nephew or niece or my cousin. But my wife and I need to pay off that damn stork and get moving!

Sarah, In our digital age we take for granted how hard and expensive it was for them to take photographs-you also summed it up with unique charm.
And I do suspect Grandpa I.J. had a lot of fun. It sneaks through in these pics.

Josh said...

actually its not to shabby, how ya been dude?

David Cranmer said...

Josh, Doing good. Keeping the homefires burning here at Blogger.