Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Family tree

April brings the ephemeral but spectacular display of blossom on the cherry tree in our garden.

I always take lots of photos of it, even though they are the same shots every year. I can't help it, the white blossom and green foliage against a fiercely blue sky look beautiful.

No apologies either for showing you this jacket again; I'm happy to be wearing the hell out of it.
It's as old as I am and still looking sharp. .

1960-70s David Butler by Pressler maxi dress - Second to None, Walsall
1960s Admyra jacket, sunglasses and bangles - charity shopped
Sandals - retail (sale)

I've been looking at old photos from my dad's side of the family, and finally got round to scanning some onto the computer.

(I've shared a few old pics and my thoughts on family before on the blog, here.)

This is Tuckey, the farm run by my great-grandfather Henry Monk in the 1850s.

According to the 1861 census, the farm consisted of 320 acres, Henry was married to Eliza with 3 children, and employed 8 men and 4 boys on the farm, plus a dairy maid, groom and nursemaid. 

This is William Readman Monk, the youngest of Henry's 7 children, born in 1871. He took over the running of Tuckey in the late 1890s. 

William and his wife Esther Curtis (the source of my name).

They had 4 children, the eldest being Norman, born in 1900.

That's my dad!

Norman and his brother Frank with their maternal grandmother, Anne (known by her maiden name as Granny Barton) in 1903.

I love this photo of Norman, Joan and Frank, around 1906.

Here are the family together in the early 1930s - siblings Norman, Joan, Rose and Frank with their parents Esther and William. Plus dogs.

Esther died in 1951, William in 1958.

Dad in 1932.

One things is clear from perusing the photos; they loved their animals.

There are endless pictures of cats, dogs, horses, chickens, pigs, and as seen above, even a domesticated fox (called Minnie). All the animals are named, in fact they have equal billing with the people. 
And yes, that is a dog sitting on a donkey (bottom right).

Dad and Rose...

and Joan riding sidesaddle.

They were part of the tennis-playing, hunting and point-to-point set, and loved their cars...

and motorbikes.
 There are holiday photos in Margate and Brighton;

Joan and Rose;
Esther striding down the prom (hope that fox fur stole isn't Minnie);

Norman on the beach in a suit and tie...

and off for a drink with his first wife Dorothy.

So what happened? 
Dad moved away from Tuckey when he married Dorothy (who died), but Frank, Joan and Rose never married and continued to live there. Dad and Frank ran the farm until it was sold in 1973. 
My mum's take on the family is that they had a high opinion of themselves and didn't think anyone was good enough for them; they disapproved of her when she arrived at Tuckey as a land girl, and were unimpressed by her marriage to Norman. I don't know if that assessment is correct, and I know you can't draw any major conclusions from photos, but the years preceding the war seem to have been happy ones. 
Mum, late 1940s.
We inherited these few photo albums when Rose died some years ago; there are no photos during the war, or indeed afterwards. It's as though life ground to a halt for them, apart from running the farm. 
But not for Norman; he married my mum and became a father in his 50s and 60s. Rather a shock to the system, I imagine.

Dad carrying me, 1965.

My sisters and I visiting Tuckey in 1965...
and 1967.

I have memories of climbing on the straw bales in the barn, and tracking down the various farm cats for a fuss (this one was called Tim). We'd clamber on the mounting block in the yard, and sometimes sit on one of the horses (which I seem to recall being a terrifying ordeal). Joan would come out of the house to give us a sweet or two while we were allowed to pick flowers from the garden to take home to mum, but we were never invited inside.

After the farm was sold, Frank, Joan and Rose continued to live together in a small semi, where my sisters and I visited them from time to time. Frank seemed to relish his retirement, and embraced foreign travel; Joan sadly developed dementia, and Rose became her carer. 

One by one, they died. 
For most of us, our legacy on this earth is short-lived; within two, maybe three generations, our personal histories are reduced to dates of birth and death, and a few photos. 
Too pessimistic? Maybe.
Still, a blog is a fantastic photographic archive, and if anyone in the future (my kids, their kids) wants to know about Granny Curtise, here I am, in words as well as pictures. 


Kezzie said...


Kezzie said...

Oh my, in that picture of Norman when around 10ish, I can REALLY see your children's facial features! Amazing to see the likeness. Lovely to know about your family and see all those photos. My family photos from my Mum's side all featured lots of animals too. I remember picturing one and everyone commented on the huge cat!

Nothing wrong with that jacket, beautiful and Spring-green, I like to see it.
Hope you are well. xx

Kezzie said...

Shall I be 3rd as well? So luxurious to be able to take up the front seats!

Patti said...

So your dad was about 65 when you were born - that's quite rare - and I bet he treasured you all the more. Wonderful of you to share these photos; your family's history is important to you, of course, and I love to take part in it. xox

Fashionista said...

Fabulous photos and family history (I do so love sticking beaking into others' stories!). You have possibly already done it, but record (either writing or audio which I love because you get to keep their voices) your mother's stories, which I imagine would be fasinating being a land girl and all. And then falling love with the farmer, I can imagine the (misguided) disapproval of your aunts.

I have two pink cherry blossom trees on our front nature strip (the strip of grass between the footpath and the road in suburban Aust) and every spring I take loads of photos (of course all the same as the previous years!) as they are just so pretty.

Angels have Red Hair said...

I LOVE THIS … so, so interesting … if only they had all had blogs… what a read :0)

PinkCheetahVintage said...

Incredible family history and pictures!!! I love that they had their animals, we do that, too.
That dog on the donkey and on the motorcycle!!! I love those pics!

Melanie said...

I loved reading about your family history. It's so interesting how families change through time and place. How lucky that your dad met your mum! I like looking for enduring family resemblances - there's such a sense of continuity, which can be comforting or annoying depending on your viewpoint.
The cherry blossoms here are gorgeous. I saw a restaurant patio blanketed with a pink carpet of them. So pretty.

Suzanne Carillo said...

How wonderful it is to look back on your family history and have all these photos!

I saw that dog riding the donkey straight away! LOL It is crazy they kept a domesticated fox. They would have been quite the family to visit. Quite wealthy it looks like.

Your Dad looks so dapper lounging about with the dogs on the lawn.

I've never understood how they managed to ride sidesaddle. How on earth do they stay on?

I had never heard of the term Landgirl before. I listened to your Mom talk about it.

25 years between your Mom and Dad! Wow.

This was such an interesting post! I went back and read the older post as well.



Tine Jensen said...

How fantastic that you've got these photos! And such fun to see the old pictures of the animals :-D The Tuckey farm looks so idyllic, I hope it hasn't changed a lot since.

Your spring outfit is lovely, the jacket is so well made, and gorgeous with the cooler green of the maxi. The cherry tree blossom is the perfect backdrop!

Diane said...

What a fascinating history you have - and you weren't half posh!!! Have you been back lately to see how the farm has changed? I can't believe you didn't get invited in. xxx

Ivy Black said...

I love tis post, darling. It's wonderful to be able to see Tuckey and the family not to mention the pet fox and dog riding pony. Utterly fabulous.
I do marvel at the link to our pasts that we have even if it is, as you say, through some black and white photos. I don't find it pessimistic, though I think it's poignant that as my family members go, what's left behind are pictures and letters.
Interesting too that we bloggers will leave a legacy or pictures and words for our families.
Loves ya!

Fiona said...

What a superb post Curtise, a very interesting read indeed. Loved seeing your relatives with various animals. How fab is the beret and scarf wearing dog on the motorbike (is it a Royal Enfield?) and I can see Nina in that photo of your dad dressed in the sailor suit.
Ha! Both your mum and mine seem to have had the same view of their inlaws. x

Melanie said...

What an interesting post, I loved seeing all of these photos and the tales behind them. I feel sorry for your mum's experiences as I know only too well what it's like to be in that situation xxx

The Vintage Knitter said...

I really enjoyed reading this and looking at the photos - they're certainly of their time. You're very lucky to have all those family photos to treasure and look back on. We don't have many on my Dad's side of the family until the 1950s, and even fewer from my Mum's as they were refugees from Egypt during the Suez Crisis and could only bring one suitcase each with them. xxx

Sue said...

Love love love all those old photos. The family resemblance is strong in your kids. Dogs sitting on horses, love it!! As you have clear strong blue skies and blossom our skies are dulling and the leaves are dropping. You are at the top of the world and I am at the arse end!! Happy Spring!!

Vix said...

What a wonderful archive and so lovely to have your mum narrate some of the family history. She looks wonderfully happy despite the chilly reception.
Minnie the fox is just adorable & the donkey riding dog and I can see a remarkably strong resemblance in you and your sisters as children and Owen, Claude & Nina.
Your pretty spring-like outfit echoes those fabulous blossoms. I'd forgotten all about that Second To None beauty!
Love you! xxxxxxxxx

Liesl said...

I loved this post, such an interesting family history and Tuckey looks like something out of a childrens book.

Bobbi said...

What a beautiful collection of photographs. All of the animals! The dog on the mule is hilarious.
Maybe you could preserve/share the family history by writing a book about them. Then they won't be forgotten.

Goody said...

It is a strange thing, being the youngest child in a family with older parents. It shakes my brain a bit to remember people and realise they were indeed Victorians-how generations overlap at the very edges.

Motorbikes! Donkeys! My how those pets got around. Must have been like the circus.

The Style Crone said...

How wonderful to learn about your family and more about you. You have an amazing family history! Thank you!

Natalia Lialina said...

What a wonderful, wonderful post - it enchanted me! I'll be back to read it again (and your link to another family post). I can't believe you have such an enormous (in my book) family photo archive (we have very few old photos, different country, different situation). You definitely take something after this side of your family - distinguished look, love of animals and love of documenting your life in photos as well! And I think your son looks very much like your Dad!

My first cat's name was Tim (or Timka as we called him).

I loved this post, and your beautiful Spring outfit, and the gorgeous cherry tree! Funnily enough, I took photos of out madly blooming rhododendron just yesterday - such a display!

Much love, dear friend xxxxxx

Laurie Duncan said...

Lovely photos! I grew up on a farm and have so many fond memories of it and lots of photos, but I'm not sure they mean as much to my daughter as I would like. :)

freckleface said...

Before I forget, I just want to say, you look really lovely in that dress and spring jacket, with your new hair. Just lovely. Honestly Curtise, I can't tell you how much I love this post. Family history is just fascinating, it's so wonderful to hear the story of those related to us. It feels so much more real when it involves our family, but it also leaves me with a sense of something magical how it fits into national and world history. Here we see England's agricultural past as well as the impact and detail of WWII. Tuckey looks amazing! What a shame it's not still in the family. What is Owen doing in that 1906 photo?! You're so adorable! What a cutie pie. But what a shame you weren't allowed in the house. Families, never simple. I love your thoughts on that aspect of a blog. Xxxxxx

Miss Magpie said...

I'm a big fan of family history too so I loved this post the pictures are wonderful. Those are certainly strong genes, what a resemblance there is in some of the pictures with your lovely family. x x

señora Allnut said...

thanks for sharing those photos and your family's story, I think our families stories are like pieces of fabric into a big big patchwork, every piece is important, everybody is essential!, I feel some kind of continuity through the years and generations.
Obviously, your cherry tree deserves to be photographed every time it blooms!, it's fabulous every year!. Glad you enjoy it!!

thorne garnet said...

wonderful post. What's not to like about a pet fox and a dog riding a pony?

Mother of Reinvention said...

What a wonderful post with all your photos. I can see you and your children in your Dad. Tukey looks beautiful, what a place to grow up, and although a farm is hard work it looks like they all had time to enjoy life. My Mum's big sister, Mary was a land girl who also married the farmer's son. I am sure that you Mum must have a load of great memories from that time. Thanks for sharing your past with us. Oh, and that yellow jacket looks fabulous on you. xx

Olga Rani said...

How wonderful to see all those old photographs and how interesting to find out a bit of your family history. How great it is to have photos of your ancestors from the 19th century. The only photos of my ancestors that I have date from pre-war time. Such a pity!
Thank you for your words of love and support, Curtise! Really means a lot to me.

Mrs Bertimus said...

Thank you for sharing such a fascinating glimpse into your family history.
I can see that your family were all interested in style too x

Beth Waltz said...

Once again, Curtise, I admire your ability to evoke an entire essay in a single sentence: "For most of us, our legacy on this earth is short-lived..."

I do hope you've read "Diary of An Edwardian Lady". It might have been written by your kinswomen. Or you.

Mim said...

Thank you for sharing those pictures, family photos are so special. I loved that shot of your dad as a baby all covered in frills and ruffles. It's also lovely that they wrote the names of their animals on their photos. Tim looks very happy to be fussed!

Forest City Fashionista said...

Well, you can certainly tell your children are related to their grandparents - Owen looks so much like Norman did at that age, and you can see the similarity in the girls too! So nice to see all the love for creatures great and small that ran through your family. Thanks for the tour through your family tree!

mondoagogo said...

I'm leaving a very belated comment, but this was such a touching post. I love seeing and reading about old family photos, it's fascinating seeing the resemblances (as many have commented, Norman in 1906 could be Nina now!). I love the pics of the dog riding donkey and motorbike, too :)

Lots of other lovely details too -- that huge dovecote is spectacular, and how lovely are the diamond buttons on Rose's cardie? I like that pic of your sis sitting on the gate, she looks so self-assured (and I would totally wear those clothes). And your jacket is lovely too!

Sheila said...

This is so neat, to see all these family photos - they really did love their animals!

As I don't have any kids, there won't be anyone to ask about my life, but maybe one day my nieces and nephew might have kids who want to know about Crazy Auntie Sheila, and I like to think that they can read about my life, and learn a little about me.