Saturday, 8 May 2010

Sepia Saturday: Albert and Chums

This photograph of my late father-in-law, Albert Edward Charles Maidment, is likely to have been taken when he was about six years old. That would date it around 1926.


I love the composition of this shot, because it occurs to me that, although the boys look as though they've been posed for the event, Albert (second from the right) and his young pal are actually emerging from behind the two older looking boys, rather tentatively.

To me, it appears as though Albert and his chums were caught in the middle of some improvised game or other. Although it's not obvious what the game was, the two scooters and an impressive ticket collector's outfit, open up a whole range of possibilities.

Whatever they were up to, it was being played out in a open field, possibly on a relative's farm, and at a time of year when there were no leaves on the trees. All members of the gang of four are wearing hats, each one different in style. I'm not sure if it was commonplace for boys to be wearing hats when out to play in Albert's day or whether, in this case, they were regarded as essential accessories for their respective roles.

I can't help thinking that Dennis Potter was inspired by this type of scene, when he wrote his acclaimed television play, Blue Remembered Hills, first broadcast by the BBC in 1979.

More Sepia Saturday participants HERE

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges

21 comments:

  1. What a wonderful picture! The clothes, the scooters, and the boys' expressions are so charming!

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  2. A very charming photo, it opens up our imaginations when we think of all the possibilities.

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  3. What a delightful photo! How lovely to see little boys outside engaged in imaginative play. That's a scene that seems increasingly rare these days. You can see the pride on the face of the lad with the ticket collector outfit. After all these years scooters are still so much fun. We recently gave our youngest grandson one for his fourth birthday.

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  4. This is absolutely my very favorite photo this week! Look at those three! I don't know why I thought of "a tinker a dollar a 12 o'clcok scholar!" Must be time to get off the Sepia's and get some breakfast!

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  5. You are quite right about the photo and it is interesting how some photos leave us with more questions than they answer.

    This one is just fascinating.

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  6. I'm with Pat...a hands-down favorite. So charming!

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  7. It's charming - very Laurie Lee. And there's something about that yellowed sepia thing that makes it magical.

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  8. Oh those boys are adorable. Lovely to see them outside at creative play. "Pat transplated to MN" commented in the comments on my blog how unusual it was to find photographs of children at play. I wonder who the photographer was and what his/her relationship to the boys was. Thanks for sharing them with us.

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  9. Vicki and Peg - I've been trying to imagine the noise before and after the photograph was taken.

    Nana Jo - They do look proud of their playthings, don't they? My mum bought me a second-hand bicycle for 5/- when I was about 8. It was a bit battered, but it looked brand new to me.

    Pat and Betsy - Such kind comments. Thank you.

    Barry - These photographs draw us in, don't they? I find myself wondering about the details like, the weather, location beyond what we can see, etc, etc.

    Fran - Funny you should mention Laurie Lee. You may remember, Lee is one of my all time favourite authors.

    Nancy - I have also speculated about the identity of the photographer. I'm left assuming it was either a family member or a local enthusiast. Either way, I'm glad someone snapped this moment in time.

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  10. They remind me of professional models on set trying to sell a product or a movie. It is a very wonderful classic photo.

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  11. What a cute photo! Is Albert on a scooter and if so where are the wheels? Maybe stuck in the dirt? Maybe two kids were too much weight.

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  12. Larry - That's the way it struck me at first glance.

    Barbara and Nancy - I think you're right about that poor little scooter not being built to carry two. The wheels have very likely disappeared into the dirt.

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  13. An adorable photo of four urchins, resplendent in their 'pretend' garb.
    The two semi hidden ones remind me of these clowns who parade behind reporters, grinning and gesturing at the camera. Except they are adults and should know better, while these little chaps probably have a secret reason for keeping themselves in the background.

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  14. Boys will be boys at any age. Yes, there is fun and mischief afoot.

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  15. This is a fabulous photo! The expressions on the boys faces who are peeping around from behind are such a delightful element. Thanks, Martin, this was a treat!

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  16. This is a wonderful photo--as you say, it poses so many interesting questions--posed or candid, what the play & the scooters & hats may be about.

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  17. That really is a wonderful picture, there is a warmth about it which takes you right back to those long days of childhood.

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  18. they remind Me Of Those Old Cowboy Films ! The Injuns attack ,so they form the wagons in a circle!

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  19. Takes me back to a time of purely imaginative play and games with no thanks to Television, videogames and the internets!

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  20. Wonderful photo. I'm struck by how much the scooter with wheels looks like the ones that my grandchildren ride on. The scooters that I keep in the garage are their absolute favorite toys. They swoop around on them like great birds. Things change, but kids are much the same.

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  21. Such an interesting and lively mise en scène!

    I wonder whether the photographer started out to take a picture of only the larger figure at the center and the other children clamored for a place in the picture until the photographer relented and surrendered. Who knows, it may have been that the central figure was too reluctant to pose alone that the minor actors had to be called onto the scene, which would explain why they seem to be so much more sure of themselves, to the point of mischievousness, especially those little fellows to the right.

    I wonder whether this photo was taken with a glass plate negative. I know that a relative of my husband - a farmer by profession - still used glass plates in the 1930s and into the 1940s, until the war arrived in the valley. He carried them in his rucksack up the mountain to his farm. I imagine that, had he come upon a gaggle of boys like the ones in the picture, all he had to spare was one attempt to get them all into the picture, the glass plates being too precious to be wasted.

    Thank you for this interesting travel back in time, when a picture still was a very precious commodity.

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