Dad’s Futuristic Car. 1935.

Lubec, Maine, the most easterly town in the US.

Dad liked to build (and fix) anything. When he was 20 years old, he and his best friend Bud McCaslin built a futuristic car in his father’s garage. Dad (R) and Bud (L) posed for a photo beside the car, the garage and Johnson Bay in the background.

How cool is that? Happy Father’s Day Dad!

 

On Father’s Day, Remembering My Dad James Eugene Rier — Voices of Ancestors

The Early Years: 1914 – 1942 Dad was born September 9th, 1914 in Lubec, Maine, the second child and first son of Frank and Elizabeth Keegan Rier. He had an elder sister Marion. As the years went by, Dad had four brothers: Francis (“Babe”), Julian (“Barney”), Paul, Raymond and three more sisters: Evelyn, Patrica and […]

via My Dad James Eugene Rier — Voices of Ancestors

Mom Hanging Out with Friends — Voices of Ancestors

Machias and Roque Bluffs, Maine. 1936 to 1942. What did girls do? Well, pose on a cool car. Hang out around their homes. Swing. What else? Hang out at the Cemetery, of course. Does anyone know Mom’s friend, dubbed “Tombstone Annie”? No one grows up in Machias without spending summer days at Roque Bluffs. You […]

via Mom Hanging Out with Friends — Voices of Ancestors

This is the most popular post on this blog in the past six months. Originally posted February 6th, the day 665 hits came in! Thank you Mom!

The 1980s: Dad, Mom and Gordon.

Left to right: Dad (James “Gene” Rier), Gordon Ackley and Mom (Louise Johnson Rier). Gordon’s Model A (or is it a Model T?) is in the background. Gordon was the manager of the shop at Rier Motors for many years, as far back as I can remember. He was part of our family. I miss them all dearly, but it is nice to see them together smiling on a sunny day!

Related posts:

The Beginning of A Business in Machias Maine. Rier Buick. 1949.

After 23 Years in Business, Dad’s Car Dealership Burned to the Ground.

My Dad, James “Gene” Rier: Maine’s Dean of Gas Engines. 1985.

Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa Late 1800s.

The cover detail of these albums is intricate. When I first pulled them from a trunk in the attic of my parents ten years ago, I didn’t recognize anyone. I wondered why no one wrote any names in these family albums. Who did they belong to?

I expect the owner/collector of these photos did not envision a time when no one would know the family members in the photos. It was a reminder not to make the same mistake in my lifetime. Have I written on the back of my memorable photos? Rarely. Are photos collected in my lifetime organized? Not yet. I’m working on it.

This year, I open the ancestors’ albums again while sitting in the old rocker my grandmother rocked me in. I gingerly remove the photos to look at the back. There are no names written there; some have the photographer’s stamp. I decide to investigate one album at a time, beginning with the smallest leather-bound one with the clasp, pictured in the front above.

In this album, I find photos of ancestors I now recognize for I have been immersed in them for a time now. The first two photos are of my great-great grandparents, Otis and Elsie Fuller Berry Means by photographer E. Vose in Machias, Maine. The same photos were in the Grace Means’ photo collection sent to the family in 1924. The next two photos are of a young woman that I cannot identify. I turn the page and find my great grandfather William, nearly the same photo is in his autograph book. The photographer was J.M. Goins, South State Street, Chicago. Was William doing business there I wonder?

Most of the album pages are empty, either never filled or distributed among the family. I do not recognize ten of the photos in the album. Are most of these men, women and babies William and his four brothers and sisters at different ages? Perhaps one of the women is William’s eldest sister Harriet, for she was not included in the Grace Means’ photo collection. Whoever she is, she does not resemble William’s other sister, Francis. The photos of this woman were taken in Boston where Harriet lived, as did William’s eldest brother, Andrew Means. I don’t see his two brothers’ likeness in these faces either, Andrew or Eliphalet. But then, I didn’t recognize William’s younger self in the autograph book at first. The elders in the album may be members of the Berry family.

I ask myself questions, think about the research required to find answers. I suppose it will help to just hold each album in my hands and ask whether I have spent enough time with my ancestors to answer these questions.

From the age of my great-great grandparents in the photos, I estimate the date as 1870s. The photographer, Ezekiel Vose, was listed in the 1876 Briggs’ Maine Business Directory. The photo of my great grandfather William is from 1875 or 1876 as the photographer, JM Goins, was located on State Street in Chicago for those two years. William’s age was 20 or 21 years old at the time, as he was born in 1855. The tintype photo of the baby in the carriage could range from 1855 to 1870s. My grandparents, William and Nellie Means were married in 1880. It seems likely that this one album originally belonged to William’s parents, Otis and Elsie Means of Machiasport, Maine and was handed down and stored in the attic where I discovered four old albums over 120 years later.

I’ve explored and documented one album. What might I discover in the other three?

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My great-great grandparents Otis and Elsie Means; My great grandfather William Means.

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Photos that I cannot identify. Yet.

Related posts:

1913. The Means Family.

The Means and Getchell Families.

A Loving Gift to Dad from his Youngest Daughter. January 15, 1930.

To Dad

Friends may come, and friends may go, the old friends and the new. But through the years I have come to know. That the best of them all is You. Patient, helpful, kind and strong. My teacher, pal and guide. I can’t go wrong while we trudge along. Life’s pathway side by side. 

The back of the picture reads: “To Dad from Elsie. January 15, 1930. 75th Birthday Greetings.” 

Elsie is my grandmother Harriet’s younger sister. Their Dad is my great grandfather William Gordon Means, born January 15, 1855. He died March 25th, 1930, little more than two months after his 75th birthday.

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William Means is buried at the Court Street Cemetery in Machias, Maine. His home was at 24 Broadway, where I grew up.

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Mom at 16. High School Graduation. 1936.

This photograph of Mom was found in the old barn at 24 Broadway in Machias in the later years of my mother’s life. It was in an old trunk strapped up under the stairs to the second floor. I had never noticed it before. Mom said that Dad put the trunk there when they moved into the house in 1952 just before I was born, in an effort to store old things in a hurry. The forgotten trunk belonged to my grandmother Harriet and was filled with antique linens, her scrapbook, and old photographs. When the photo was discovered, I took it, along with other items from the trunk, for Mom to see.

“I haven’t seen this picture since I was young,” she said and smiled up at me from the chair where she sat most of the day, her mobility limited by severe arthritis.

“Wow! You’re so young and pretty, Mom,” I replied in excitement. I wanted to add that she still was but I knew that remark would irritate her. She hated getting old and no compliment could assuage her disdain for her reflection in the mirror. Wistfully, she fingered the linens I set in her lap and then looked through her mother’s scrap book which she did not remember.  No wonder. It was 2007, seventy one years after that photo was taken.

Today, as I went through cartons of storage in need of one more round of organization, I found the photo in the original frame and another treasure: my mother’s writing.

Related posts:

My Mother Louise Adele Johnson

Mom Hanging Out with Friends

Mom’s Adventures in Portland: Horse Back Riding. 1942.

Mom Keeps Men at Stewart Field Air Force Base on High Alert. 1944.