52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 2 prompt: Favorite photo.
Old photos are my “favorite photo.”
I could no more single one out as my favorite anymore than I could single out one chocolate chip from a bag as my “favorite;” I love them all so much. My favorite photo of this particular moment, however, is this one:
Seated with the three youngest of their 11 children, my maternal great-grandparents Carl Johan EILERTSEN Fjelse, Sr. (Mar. 12, 1848 Fjelse nedre Br.74, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway–Between 1911-’30 Norway) & Ingeborg SIGBJØRNSDTR Homma (Feb. 11, 1871 Homma, Gyland, Vest Agder, Norway–1953 Norway).
While I don’t know when this photo was taken, I’m going to speculate between 1926 & 1930, based on my guess of the daughters’ ages in it. The youngest of the three pictured, Judith Synnøve EILERTSEN Fjelse (Apr. 8, 1911 Flekkefjord, Norway–Feb. 15, 1977 Norway), looks to me to be aged no more than her mid-teens; in 1926, she would have thus been, at the most, about 14 or 15; in 1930, 19 or 20; so, I think a 1926-to-1930 date-taken guess is pretty solid for this photo… This would make Ingrid Elise EILERTSEN Fjelse (Aug. 11, 1909 Fjelse, Flekkefjord, Norway–Sept. 29, 2003 last residence Largo, Pinellas, Florida, USA) aged 16-to-22 here, and, Gunhild Solveig (Solveig) EILERTSEN Fjelse (July 14, 1907 Flekkefjord, Norway–Sept. 29, 2001 last residence Largo, Pinellas, Florida, USA) somewhere in the 18-to-23 range. [<- Your feedback? Appreciated.]
It’s a tie as to who jumps out at me first in the photo: my grandaunt Ingrid or, my great-grandfather Carl Johan. Ingrid because, I had an Oh my gosh! reaction to how much she resembles both myself and my next-down sister in the face, and, as someone who never saw any photographs of her Norsk-side kin (other than of my own grandmother, who died when I was four) until she started researching her ancestry, this just felt so extraordinary, astonishing: I look like these people.
But, Great-Grandpa Carl Johan because, WOW. I mean, just look at him… To me, he looks to have stepped right out of Johanna Spyri’s, Heidi, among my very favorite childhood reads, and, the wonderful 1937 movie adaptation of the book featuring Shirley Temple as Heidi and, Jean Hersholt as the mountain-dwelling grandfather.
A genealogist cousin1 in Norway told me that Norwegian bygdebøker (farm record books) show Carl Johan’s occupation as woodworker. While I don’t know exactly what sort of “woodworking” was involved, I look at those hands — long fingers, and I imagine artistry.
Then my eyes move to my Great-Grandma Ingeborg — and may I just interject here, isn’t it neat to see photos where the subjects are not all looking straight into the camera?! — and, she seems a softly elegant contrast to “Heidi’s mountain-dwelling grandfather,” i.e. my Great-Grandfather Carl Johan.
Ingeborg’s hands too, long-fingered and much like my own, and, I know from family lore that she was an excellent seamstress, a skill she passed on to at least two of her daughters, my grandmother Sally Marie (Rosalie) EILERTSEN Fjelse (June 4, 1892 Fjelse nedre Br.74, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway–Oct. 22, 1952 Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, USA) and, eldest daughter Emilie Katinka EILERTSEN Fjelse (Nov. 25, 1889 Norway–Sept. 15, 1975 Enfield, Hartford, Connecticut, USA). (Grandma Rosalie & Emilie are said to have joined in a dress-making & -designing effort in New York at one point, early on before they both married.) My hunch, all of the clothing in this picture was made by women in this family…
I could study this photo repeatedly; it hasn’t stopped talking to me, yet.
1 Signe Elisabeth Zijdemans, Flekkefjord, Norway.