What would I do without my mum?

mum sandra and cousin going to movies c 1949

My mum, centre. Go-to person for all family history questions.

When I posted this photo the other day along with some other examples of street photography (Street life: family through the eyes of a stranger), it got some interesting dialogue going with other bloggers about the process by which the photograph – taken by a professional street photographer – got into the hands of the person who is actually in the photograph.

I emailed my mother about it; here is her reply:

The photos were taken by a street photographer. They just  snapped away, gave you a slip of paper and if you wanted them you went to I think the Fife Free Press Offices.  They were very cheap and not too many families had a camera.

My INTJ brain is in overdrive. Did the photographer give out slips of paper to the people as the walked past? Did he (it probably was “he”) have an assistant? What was on the piece of paper? Was it like a flyer with the address for collection and a price? Or more like an order form? Maybe the numbers I found on the back of the photos matched up with the numbers on the slips of paper?

I’m guessing it had to be quite a quick, streamlined system. Looking at my mum with her sister and cousin, they are clearly in a hurry. My mum also said:

We were on our way to the movies to see Dick Barton Special Agent!!! Very big in those days; used to be on the radio every night.

Susan Forbes Nicholson Elder. Kirkcaldy High Street. circa 1940s.

Susan Forbes Nicholson Elder. Kirkcaldy High Street. circa 1940s.

Cynthia, at We’re All Relative noted that my grandmother Susan Elder, didn’t look like she wanted to be photographed, but the shot is here now, so someone bought it. Perhaps once she saw the photo, she actually liked it? It’s interesting that she even took the slip of paper – unless perhaps someone else took it on her behalf (my dad for example)?

Street photography seems a somewhat precarious way to earn a living; it’s a kind of deferred-enjoyment busking. My mum’s comment that the photos were collected from the local newspaper office got me wondering if the street photographer was also the press photographer and either this was a sideline, or it was actually a business run by the local paper as a way of making more money and utilising a resource (the photographer) who wouldn’t always be needed for “news” photography? Hm, the INTJ marketing brain’s in action now!

Not street photography, but photography on the street

A couple of weeks ago I found a photo of me on holiday in Rothesay, Scotland (Six Word Saturday: toddler on the run in Rothesay). I was about two at the time and in the photo I’m toddling away from my dad – whose legs are in the shot.

On the back of the photo was a name of someone I’d never heard of –  Mrs C Galbraith, and an address in Renfrewshire which was unfamiliar also.

My mum says that Mrs Galbraith was another guest in the hotel my family was staying in, and that she had an older daughter who used to play with me.

Mum also reminded me of two other photos taken during that holiday, both of which I remember seeing, but I’m not sure I have copies of. From memory, one shows me – clearly distressed – being held by an older child, while the other is a group shot of children outside the hotel. I’m not sure if I’m in that photo.

Now all I have to do is find them!!!

Me and my dad's legs; Rothesay Bay, Scotland, probably summer 1963.

Me and my dad’s legs; Rothesay Bay, Scotland, probably summer 1963. Photo by another guest in our hotel.





15 thoughts on “What would I do without my mum?

  1. Yay for your mother! Two mysteries solved. It’s funny—when I saw your street photography post, I wondered whether a street photographer had also taken the picture of you as a runaway.

    • Yay indeed! It’s wonderful that every time I ask her a question about one thing, she remembers all sorts of other stuff too. I had also wondered if Mrs Galbraith was a street photographer, but the name and address were hand-written and my other photos all had printed numbers on the back.

    • Me too. I think the Fife Free Press is still published, so maybe someone there knows about the connection. I’ll email them when I get a minute.

  2. How you stir up little long forgotten memories with you gentle, thoughtful detective work. Of course, we all have these photos of ourselves, hand in hand with our Mum, or, as you say, with a total stranger who we befriended as children playing on the beach. And yes, we were always rushing somewhere in these shots, not always looking happy to be photographed. But we are always in our sweet summer sandals and wearing a cotton dress. I loved all of that. Well, however reluctant we might have appeared in the photos, you are right, the photo was purchased.The days before everyone had a camera or became obsessed with’ selfies’.
    Please keep on following the fragile broken trail of family and memory, it enables your readers to go on such a lovely journey of our own too.

  3. Thank you Karen. It means so much to me that others’ enjoy my stories, but more importantly, are reminded of echoes of their own lives. So much of the joy of blogging is the reaching out and sharing that we do and the communities that we build. Cheers, Su.

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