What I found in my Aunt Bird's 1920s photo album

by — Nov. 25, 2000 (Comments)

Bird’s life has always fascinated me. She looks so much different than the rest of the family in the photo album. It looks like she has a 15-inch waist in one picture. She always wears high hats with large flowers or a bird on top, or she wears her hair in a bun on the very top of her head. She wears shoes with heels, even to a family reunion, which is held at a park. She and her husband have a furniture store in a larger town about 30 miles from their small hometown in Illinois.

She has a sister, Maud, who also dresses a bit differently than others. For example, in the early 1920s she wears knee length boots with a bit of a heel and a plaid skirt. She is always laughing and acting carefree in the photos. I see that she has a fur coat in one picture. Maud and her husband also travel to England.

They both travel with their husbands at a time when most people from small towns aren’t on the road, and most don’t own cars. They have a couple they get together with for awhile, but the couple moved to New Hampshire. After some genealogy research I find that they are also related.

Some of the pictures in her photo album show several rooms in her house, the yard outside, her and her husband and dog fishing in a rowboat, parades and a happy New Year’s Eve party she gave with 4 couples present. The yard was very large and fenced; they had a small dog and a very large dog and at least one cat. The sidewalk from the front door around to the back was paved with bricks.

Everyone had a dog or two. There was a clipping from the Chicago Tribune I found in the album that was about dogs.

“If a pup costs $25 or $35, and you spread that cost over ten years, it amounts to just a couple of dollars a year for dividends in loyalty, affection, companionship and perhaps guard work for the children in the home. That is a ridiculously small sum for what the good dog gives to us and the home. And it costs just as much to treat a nameless mixture of breeds (a cross-bred) for distemper, to feed it, and to look after it as it does to rear a pedigreed dog of the same size and weight.”

There were dogs in most of the pictures in the album. It looks to me that they thought very highly of their pets. As we do today, our pets become part of the family.

I also found a recipe for Divinity Fudge she had written (or copied) down. I can only believe she made it and her husband enjoyed it. I know that it had to be one of the originals. I remember my mother making a similar recipe for divinity.

2 C sugar
2/3 C staley’s white syrup
1/3 C water
2 egg whites only
½ C chopped nuts
½ C raisins
1 teasp. Vanilla extract
¼ teasp salt

Boil sugar, syrup, and salt in water together until it forms a hard mass in cold water.
Beat white of eggs stiff and gradually put in the hot syrup, beating constantly.
When mixture begins to stiffen, add nuts and raisons and drop from teaspoon onto oiled plate.
This may also be made in a roll, which may be covered with chocolate and rolled in nuts or simply rolled in nuts and candied cherries.

Thankfully, about 1969 a white frosting mix came on the market that made the divinity ‘from scratch’ recipe much easier to make. Divinity is a light, sugary desert that melts in your mouth.

These are just a few of my favorite and interesting pieces I pulled out of the photo album. The many pictures of the family are beginning to blacken and fade with time. I shall put them on the computer for posterity so that my grandchildren’s grandchildren can see some of their ancestors.