Saturday, 31 July 2010

Sepia Saturday: Tea-break

This slightly out-of-focus photograph of my maternal grandfather, Asher James Gregory, is one of my favourite images of him.

The grandfather clock was working then, and as the time was almost 10.15, Asher had probably just finished a cup of tea, before returning to whatever he had been doing outside. Our daughter has the clock now and, even though the hands have long since stopped, I can't help hearing the slow, regular swing of the pendulum, in my memory.

The table that's showing off one corner is now in our home. There is history to it. My mother used to sleep under it during the war. We have sat around it, as a family, for countless meals and celebrations. Now, my granddaughters sit around it when they visit, and the eldest - Speckly Woo! - draws her world in coloured crayons on it, just the way I did.

The room Asher is standing in, is the dining room. Although, it was always referred to as the 'kitchen'. The room adjoining, is the kitchen but, always referred to as the 'scullery'. Out of shot, in the top right hand corner of the scullery, sat a holding tank, full of spring water, pumped up to the house from a well in the garden. When I look at this picture, I can taste the sweetness of that water.

It looks as though Asher is ready to leave now. He's about to put his jacket on.

As I sit here, watching him, I know the exact smells, sounds and peaceful surroundings he's experiencing in this captured moment. The timeless magic of treasured family photographs.

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges


  1. An evocative picture of a different time, place and way of life.

  2. Wow, I love how this photo brings back all those memories for you. How special and amazing. That table sounds like a real family treasure.

  3. We're doing a sort of "ghost-watching" here too, I think.
    Wasn't it CrazyFox who had that little chair we were all so taken with? It's amazing how furniture can be so evocative of our lives, isn't it?
    This picture is a real treasure! You can almost imagine him humming to himself. Did he do that?


  4. it is a charming photo. it is fun to learn how the names from rooms change from generation to generation.

    in my grandparents' homes there were always a parlor.... and yes the dining rooms were referred to as kitchens - but the room adjacent which housed the sink, stove and dishes was called the pantry....which wasn't to be confused with another area which stored canned goods, etc was also called the pantry...ah, it could all get so confusing.

    how lovely that your daughter has the grandfather clock. but should we say the great-grandfather clock??

  5. A wonderful photo, made even better by the memories you've shared with us.

  6. jinksy - So true and, oh, how I miss it sometimes.

    gibknitty - The table is very precious to us. Touch it, and you touch our family history.

    Kat - He was a happy, yet, sentimental man, who would often entertain us with an impromptu verse or two.

    mouse - There was also a larder under the stairs at the back of the house. It was called the pantry. And yes, you're absolutely right. The clock should be henceforth known as the great-grandfather clock!

    Vicki - Thanks. The photo is special. The memories keep him close.

  7. This photo and your memories make me cry. I don't know exactly why - perhaps for times past that can only be recovered in memory. I loved reading your memories of the time and place where your grandfather stands in this photograph. I love that this photograph gives you more than just a mental memory, but also so many sensory memories -- and that you shared them with us. I love this photo not only because of your grandfather standing in the dining room but also because of all the warm whites, soft creams, and the clock. The place looks warm and inviting -- and place I would like to visit or live. Thanks for sharing your memories of that place with us.

  8. What a wonderful post. I am hunting around for my own family photos to scan, but haven't found any taken inside yet. It's amazing how a photo can conjure up such rich sensory memories.

  9. Nancy - Such vivid memories ensure that I'm never too far away from the place I regarded as 'home'. You are right about the room looking warm and inviting. That's just how it was.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Our daughter emailed me to say that, seeing the picture of her beloved great-grandad, had the same effect on her.

    jennyfreckles - Thank you. It would be wonderful if you'd like to contribute to Sepia Saturday. You know, the more photographs I've posted, the more I've come to be aware of what each image holds. I hope you find some of your family, to scan.

  10. It's almost like a movie. I can just see him putting on his jacket and walking out the door. How wonderful to actually have some of the things in the photo.

  11. Wow, I love the casualness of the photograph. It's wonderful you still have that table, and the memories that came with it. Best of all, it's still making memories for you and your children.

  12. It is a very special photo, taken without posing. The story about the clock and the table is wonderful. Also that these are still in your families possession.
    All these memories are very precious for your family.

  13. Martin,
    That's a fabulous 'captured moment' and you did such a beautiful job of describing the setting. I love that Speckly Woo still uses the table and that your daughter has the clock.

  14. such a simple pisture but powerful for those familiar with the man and the place and its content. i have no pics of those days, but i have memories of my maternal grandpa. for example, sitting in the kitchen, we were both eating soup, but he was slurping his, and i told him that was not the proper way to eat it. i was only four!! but my life could have ended right then and there. but grandma was watching over us. i remember only his eyes as he looked my way, still slurping his soup. funny the memories we keep.
    thanks for sharing.

  15. Ascher is a wonderful name. I like furniture that has such great stories. Sleeping under a table because of the threat of bombs. Wow!

  16. Oh my heart. Martin, this post brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. No post has ever captured heartfelt nostalgia with such warmth and simplicity. Thank you so much for sharing.


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