Saturday, 15 May 2010

Sepia Saturday: Doris Calling

This week, I’m offering a postcard for Sepia Saturday. It’s no ordinary postcard though. At least, to me, it isn’t. It pictures my great, great grandmother, ‘Jinny’, feeding the swans at Fishers Pond. She and her husband, Wellington, had a smallholding and lived in a cottage at the water’s edge.


But it’s the reverse side of the postcard that holds a special fascination for me. The card is addressed to my grandmother, Hilda, at Yule Cottage, the place of my birth.


Posted on 17th November, 1948, long before there was a telephone in the house, it carries two messages. The first, cancelling a trip to ‘small town’ Eastleigh in favour of a day out in the capital. The second, an enquiry as to whether or not Hilda is already in possession of this postcard with the picture of her grandmother on it.

The message was sent by Doris Hall, a lifelong friend of Hilda. I remember, when I was a child, Doris visited once a week, cycling the mile or so from Fishers Pond. There was a little ritual that followed her arrival. Doris would always produce a bone for the dog, before she and Hilda shared a pot of tea and caught up with the latest against the hollowed ticking of the grandfather clock. After tea, another ritual. A slow tour of the garden, still in conversation, their words steadily lost among the blooms.

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges

24 comments:

  1. That is a fascinating card. I do have quite a few pictures of relatives from this era which have been turned into postcards - it must have been a fairly popular service offered by photographic studios - but I don't have any which have been titled and professionally produced in this way.

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  2. I can understand your fascination with the card, it makes for an excellent portrait. Feeding swans can be a dangerous business.

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  3. This ia a fascinating postcard; both the subject and the fact that it is addressed to the place of your birth. I love the sound of English house names. "Yule Cottage' sounds like a place where you just know you'd have a nice cup of tea and a lovely walk in the garden.

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  4. Love the idea of the ritual - we don't do enough ritual.

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  5. Love your old post card collection. I have been posting some things from my collection too. They provide a lot of material for Sepia Saturday.

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  6. What lovely rituals to practice with a dear friend and how nice to have this postcard to trigger those memories for you.

    Kat
    (Anyone who brings a dog a bone, is a good egg, in my books!)

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  7. Lovely image, lovely words.

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  8. What a lovely ritual; sounds like one I would enjoy. The photo with the swans is just amazing, Martin.

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  9. How lovely to have such fine mementoes of your grandmother. Feeding the swans is so picturesque. And that's an interesting way to write on a postcard.

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  10. It's a lovely photograph and extra special since it was turned into a postcard! Wonderful ritual, too! :)

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  11. Just noticed your Blurb book, Martin. Cool! I want to read it, but will have to wait until I'm on my big desktop monitor—my eyesight's not that great and even with the full-screen, my laptop is hard to read. I'll make a point of checking it out later, but certainly is a beautiful looking book. Do you have a hard-copy edition yourself?

    Kat

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  12. Alan - I know that my grandmother treasured it, I think, because she somehow saw her own beloved grandmother immortalised. After all, this was something that people would buy and, possibly, send to different parts of the country, if not, the world.

    Barry - Yes, we were always warned not to approach swans, as they're extremely protective of their young.

    Nana Jo - My few memories of Yule Cottage (we moved out when I was a little over three years old) are magical.

    Fran - Sometimes I feel that people try so hard to be spontaneous, these days, it has become a kind of ritual.

    Crazyasa - I love the mystery of old postcards, don't you? Especially the messages they carry.

    Moptop - Thanks.

    willow - My grandmother inherited Jinny's way with animals. They just seemed to respond, as though they knew everything was okay.

    Enchanted Oak - Yes, this certainly is one to treasure.

    Betsy - We still drink lots of tea, but hardly ever make it a little ritual. Something we should try harder to reintroduce, perhaps?

    Poetikat - Thank you so much. Publishing with Blurb was a fun thing to do. Please don't hesitate to give feedback if you'd like. I did buy a few hard copies for family and close friends, and I'm very pleased with quality of production.

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  13. Interesting. I am familiar with Fishers Pond. There is a nice pub there now overlooking it called "The Fisher Pond". When I visited my daughter, who lived at Stoke Heights just down the road, we used to go there for a meal and enjoy the view across the pond from the terrace. I did notice an old house on the right of the pond near the waters edge. I wonder if that was the cottage you mentioned?

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  14. When Doris asked Hilda if she already had that card, it makes me wonder if there were many postcards of that image produced and possibly sold to the public as a remembrance of Fishers Pond. It's so great that you have the card and all the associated memories.

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  15. Keith - That would be the cottage in question. It was actually called 'Pondside Cottage'. Sadly, the old place was pulled down some years ago now, to make way for a much more luxurious successor.

    Nancy - These postcards were produced in numbers, and sold to the public. My guess is, Doris may have been one of the first to buy one.

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  16. I know I rather overuse the word wonderful, but this is - what a lovely photo, and history and "connection" for you to have and treasure

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  17. lettuce - Thanks. 'Wonderful' is the word I'd use too.

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  18. What a lovely memory -- and such a special picture!

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  19. It is a wonderful photo. It is nice to have a photo of a great, great. It was a neat friend too.

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  20. Those swans are absolutely... well, I think "elegant" is the right word. And I can only imagine a time where correspondence was by writing only... How intimate and eternal! Our phone conversations are lost in the air...

    Nevine

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  21. Oh...what a beautiful description. That second paragraph is absolutely wonderful. Your description sets the scene and the tempo so wonderfully that I feel I am there. Sigh.

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  22. What a delightful image--of course, Barry is right about feeding swans, but it still calls up an almost fairy-tale atmosphere.

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  23. Hello, I've only just discovered your blog, and I love your poetry. I was drawn to this post because of I too had a Great great Grandmother called 'Jinny'. How fearless she was to feed the swans, we were always told to be wary, beautiful but dangerous. How lovely that the photograph was made into a postcard, and how comforting your description of 'hollowed tick of the Grandfather clock'.

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  24. Half-heard in the Stillness - Welcome to Square Sunshine. Good to have your company and thank you for your nice comments.

    Yes, Jinny (Eliza Jane) was a pretty fearless individual by all accounts, but my grandmother always spoke of her with great affection.

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