Thursday, 31 July 2014

Coordinating the Past

As part of the process of cleaning out my grandfather's house, I have commandeered all of the old photos and am in the process of digitising them so that they are larger than 1 square inch and can be owned by everyone on the immediate (an possibly extended) family and printed and reprinted according to inclination or requirement.

What this has also allowed me to do is better connect the few dots I have of my grandparents lives and the early years of my Mother and aunt's lives. Through the enlargement and examination of old photos I could identify my grandmother's wedding dress in both incarnations and connect it with the dress hanging in my own wardrobe. And now there are more connections to make:

In my grandfather's wardrobe, only a small collection remains of my grandmother's clothes and some of her daughters' party dresses.

Late 1955/Early 1956

The dress, as worn by my mother now hangs safely in my wardrobe. It joins an ever increasing pile of old pretty dresses often hand sewn and decorated with ruffles or rows of lace. In an age where babies are so often dressed in cheap and/or heavy duty fabrics the delicate confections of my mother and aunt are too unusual not to keep for some imagined future wearer.


My Aunt at an equally adorable age. Obviously baby portraits were the rage. The knitted dress was found crumpled in a plastic bag in the back of the wardrobe. It probably needs a soak and the ribbon an iron, but it's sweet. Just a pity the original owner's granddaughter is already too big for it.

Violet in a sexy/summer dressing gown with Jocelyn, before the master bedroom's dressing table. The dressing gown and dressing table survive.  The former is made of a rough chiffon edged with black lace and discovered by my cousins in the bottom of a wardrobe along with a red corduroy dressing gown and a faded oriental one.

It's a dressing gown that I am not surprised to see. The reason is that it compliments the satin nighties and French knickers that were recently rediscovered and were presumably part of Violet's trousseau. In fact the one she is wearing under the dressing gown in the photo

1961 Family Photo

My sister and I acquired my mother's Sunday best years ago and unfortunately it has experienced some mistreatment since 1961. Surprisingly, it was worn only recently to a hat party. I cannot tell what the little girls are wearing and whether it has survived, but unfortunately I do not recognise the dress my grandmother is wearing.
What I do wish to know, is how many starched petticoats my mother is wearing under that micro-mini.

To go one better, Violet's hat has also survived, a thin cream number with a wisp of a veil.
From the story Granddad tells, it was the height of fashion and not cheap and, not appreciating Violet's desire for it, he offered to make her something similar by painting a piece of cardboard white and adding a touch of frou-frou to it. Violet was not impressed.
(The gloves may be the white leather mousquetaires/opera gloves from her wedding, in which case, they too have survived.)

1960. Peter's 1st Communion

This hat had matching green suede gloves, silk scarf (which has survived), shoes and bag.
What has also survived is a beautiful thin cotton dress with splashes of this bright green, orange and blue through it. It was probably worn under the heavy winter coat in the photo, as Violet was stylish enough to co-ordinate an outfit in an era where that was de rigeur.

1962 1st Communion party dresses

The blue dress has survived, faded and almost in two pieces, but it can be easily restored should a granddaughter look as adorable in it as her grandmother did 50 years ago.

The pink dress is still in one piece - just. It's delightfully shiny with matt pink ribbon gathered and attached to all possible surfaces. Unfortunately while the fabric has survived, the thread has not, converting seams into gaping holes and revealing slits.
The headdress, a row of fake flowers, worn originally with the mini bridal gown associated with 1st Communions also exists and is safely stored with the veil, poof bag and white gown.

1963 Family Outing

Taken in the year before Violet died, this was a family outing to see the Canning Dam overflow. Though its difficult to tell in this image due to the deterioration of the image's colours (on the original slide the blue is definitely blue), Violet is wearing the blue polka dot shift modelled on the left.

None of the bows are known to have survived.


Possibly a wedding, possibly just a nice dinner. It is a pity the pretty buttons were not visible at the minidress's original outing. 
I have worn this myself and can confirm that it is definitely a mini dress that could have doubled as a light coat. 

There are still plenty of photos to scan in, so here's hoping I can make more connections between them and the pieces we still own. 

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