Saturday, May 5, 2012

In The Booth In The Back In The Corner In The Dark

Not to long ago someone commented in a post in their blog that they "Wondered when we'll ever see a picture of Margaret."  Another random thing that has led me back to my pile of pictures.  We know that Mollie had photographs of both of her daughters at her home in Reedsburg for all to see.  We know that Mollie occasionally mentioned Peggy, "I had two daughters!" being a retort to a comment about how proud she must be of Agnes.  If Agnes had any pictures of her sister they were not for public consumption and kept away from the eyes of, well, everybody including her housekeepers.  As I was looking at a picture of Agnes taken in 1919 at River View Boat Landing in Racine Wisconsin before she left for college in Muskingum I was struck by the photographs lack of Peggy.  There are all kinds of family in this picture.  Her elusive father is seen kneeling with Mollie seated or rather leaning on his knee.  Agnes is standing next to Aunt Cam.  Mollie has her sister standing on the other side of the woman next to her and her mother on the far right side. It may be the woman standing next to her is also a sister. John has a brother in the back row on the right, his sister Camilla and what may be another brother on the right as well.  Other relatives but no Peggy...or is there.  I had someone tell me once that they believed Peggy wasn't in the photo because there are no children in the photo.  Well yeah that's obvious but wait just a doggone minute define child....seriously define child in the Victorian sense of the word.

Children during the Victorian age and the early years of the twentieth century were considered to be small adults.  They were to be seen and not heard.  It was more than common for children to leave school and work to help support the family as young as 6 years old.  More than that a girl was considered to be of marrying age as soon as she began her period and if that happened young as it did for some, 9 or 10 years old, you could expect to be married off fairly quickly once you turned 13.  13 the magic number...hey wait a minute wasn't Peggy 13 when that picture I referred to was taken?  Yes, yes she was.  I believe that while we've been beating our heads against the rocks looking for Peggy she was right there in front of us all the time.  I've had this picture forever and never noticed it but today, well today is different because I see it now.

Agnes is up front with immediate family but what intrigues me most is the young girl way in the back in the shadows.  How could you have a family celebration with grandparents, parents and cousins but not your sister.  13 was practically marrying age and it certainly was the age at which a young girl became a young feast your eyes on Peggy.  It's a pity that a mere ten years from this she would be dead but at least there is a face to a name.  I've asked the two cousins who remain that would know and trust me that was hard as hell because they are older than Jesus.....97 and 99 respectively.  But they agree that it is last a hunch pans out!


Anonymous said...

This picture is so telling, isn't it. I have literally been haunted by this image for ages. I believe that I first glimpsed it, in your excellent video montage, "Fields of Gold." This particular photo paints a thousand words. There is LaAgnes, dressed in white, and bookended by adoring paterfamilias. While Peggy, decked out in funereal black, waits in the wings .Quite an indictment of the Moorehead family dynamic, wouldn't you say? Do you know what this pic reminds me of?? Ever read/see Paul Zindel's masterpiece, "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds? " It's my absolute favorite play. It's all about these two twisted sisters who live in a (metaphorical) compost heap, with their Monster of a Mother. One sibling survives....the other does not. It's Aggie/ Peggy/Mollie redux. If only I had a time machine. I would morph back to about 1910, give Mollie a good swift kick in the arse, and ADOPT Aggie and Peggy :)

tamela757 said...

You are so right comparing it to "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds." That was one of the first plays I did in readers theatre. Mollie had so many issues it's hard to know where to start but those girls would have stood a much better chance if you had a time machine. One life completely destroyed and another visually intact but internally a mess.

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