Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

My great-grandmother Josephine, whom we called Feenie, is almost unknown to me except as the sweet silver-haired woman who welcomed us into her house with a great big smile whenever we stopped by on our frequent trips to Algoma to see my grandma Lil and grandpa Leo, who were on my father’s side of the family. Feenie was my mother’s grandma but for many of my young years this fact somehow escaped me. I thought she was just a nice little old lady my parents happened to know who liked to sit me on her lap and read to me.

Not too long ago I came into possession of a big stack of old photo albums, several of which are more than a hundred years old and chock full of photos of people who are presumably related to me but I have no idea how. I was flipping through one the other night, wondering who all those people could be, when it slowly dawned on me that this one in particular must have been Feenie’s. This one was the clincher:

image of Josephine

Josephine is the dark-eyed beauty on the far right. She’s written “Me” on her shoulder and somebody else has added: “Jo,” so this album must have fallen into the hands of someone else who was presumably trying to figure out who all these distant relatives were, too.

Maud, the woman standing beside Feenie, and Luella, whom everyone called Lulu, sitting in front of her, were sisters. They had another sister named Cora, who is very probably the woman on the far left, and a brother, Rolland Chester Bach, my great-grandfather. He married Josephine in 1904.

Taped into the front cover of the album, I found this photo:

image of

The album is packed full of photos of the family on fishing trips. The guys really got into it, but the women appear to have gone along to dress up and wear enormous hats. There are no photos of the women holding up one end of the stringer in triumph. Josephine doesn’t appear to be even a little interested in the catch. Rolland was usually called Rollie, but here he’s just “Roll.” Josephine stands beside him, and in the middle, Frank Seyk, Maud’s husband. I don’t know who the guy on the right is. The little boy sitting on the ground between Josephine and Frank is my grandfather, Frederic Bach.

sepia | 6:39 am CST
Category: story time
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