Life in black and white

[Now updated with some extra info from Dad]

I recently came across the My Parents Were Awesome blog, which features photos people send in of their parents before they were parents, back when they were young and fancy free and – who’d have thought? – maybe even a bit cool.

I knew that my parents had quite a collection of shoeboxes of old photos, and we’d often browsed through them, but the last time I visited I had something specific in mind, and it just so happened that Dad had recently looked through them all and organised them a little. Below is a small selection of ones I found which interested me. Bear in mind that my Dad’s family seemed much more interested in taking and keeping photos than my Mum’s, which is why the only shots of her are from when she was already with him.

The young lady in the fur-lined coat on the right of this amusingly stern-looking group is my Dad’s mum. I also like the tie the elderly lady in the front is wearing.

A couple more of my maternal grandmother, complete with Louise Brooks bob. Not sure who the lady in the middle is.

Dad says: The lady in the middle photo is my maternal godmother

A frankly baffling shot of Nan. No-one knows where she is in this photo (a cave?) or what she’s doing there…

My father’s father, a policeman in North Devon. The original print, from 1927, is much brighter, due to all that snow, but playing with the contrast in Photoshop brought out the shadow of the photographer and the swirly pattern on the photographic paper.

Paternal grandparents, on their bike. Helmets were obviously not a legal requirement in those days. Either that or they were being rebellious (unlikely, since he was a respected member of the local constabulary).

Dad, aged four. Ready for anything.

Dad, mum and a friend when he was posted abroad with the RAF. You can’t quite make it out in this image, but the game they’re playing involved trying to stack as many matches as possible on top of the beer bottle. Back in those days they didn’t have DVD boxsets, so they had to make their own entertainment.

My favourite shot of Mum.

Dad’s much-loved bubble car.

Out for a stroll along Torquay seafront. Taken in 1957.

Note the camera – photography runs in the family. Taken in 1958.

Dad at work. Love the pipe. Taken in 1963.

On the beach. My elder brother is probably in the pram at right.

Ah, there he is.

Now some other miscellaneous images. Most don’t feature anyone I know, but appealed to me for other reasons. Firstly, the amazing gargantuan babies. Seriously, their heads are bigger than the lady behind them.

My father’s godmother.

And her husband.

No idea who any of these chaps are, but the one with his cap at a jaunty angle looks like a barrel of laughs.

Dad says: This is the dart team of The Steam Packet Inn at Dartmouth, where I lived for 3 years  ’49- ’52. The chap in “jaunty cap” is one  Reg Pillar,  he was the engineer on the cross river ferry the ” Mew”   A steam ship that was operated by  British Rail from the station a Dartmouth  (no trains ) , to the station at Kingswear (has trains).

A few shots of the street party to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation (1953, in case you didn’ t know). I can’t imagine anything like this happening today. Apart from anything else, that large a public gathering in the streets is probably outlawed by some new anti-terrorist legislation. The last time I was aware of a street party near us was when I attended one to celebrate Charles and Lady Di’s wedding (so I must have been 8 at the time).

Dad says: Back to camera centre of shot is Uncle Peter [Mum’s brother], on his right is Uncle  Derek [Mum’s other brother].  On Peter’s left is his father Archibald, and on his left is Nan.

My mother’s father is at extreme left in this one, and I love the little girl at bottom right holding the boy’s head towards the camera in a vice-like grip.


2 thoughts on “Life in black and white

  1. Erik R. March 3, 2010 / 4:46 pm

    These are fantastic. The one of your father in the gas mask particularly. Growing up as the son of a cop, there must have been lots of cool “That’s not a toy!” toys to play with.


  2. Di March 3, 2010 / 7:26 pm

    Your dad was a delicious looking young man, if you don’t mind me saying 🙂


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