Thursday, November 4, 2010

And now for some words about the photo of Tim Cronin and the stonecutters union

Yesterday I posted a photo of my great-grandfather Timothy Cronin and his fellow members of the stonecutters union for Wordless Wednesday, but there are some things about that photo that I thought needed a few words said, so here I go talking about it today!

I love old photos. Besides seeing what your family members looked like when they were younger or when they were dressed to the nines or when they were caught in a candid moment, there are other things within the frame (in film, all these elements within the frame are called the "mise-en-scene") that are also important - important clues to a time frame or a place or just to what the world was like in that year or that week or on that day. A stopped clock. A storefront sign. An outfit.

Anyway, this photo is of Timothy Cronin with his stonecutters union. While Tim worked as a hotelkeeper, a barkeeper, and a farmer during his life, much of his work was spent as a stonecutter or marblecutter.

Personally, I love all their hats.

They're standing outside a building that reads either Marquet or Marquette in the stonework. If I can track down that building, I can pinpoint the exact location of this photo. And if you notice in the windows, there are fliers hanging, advertising the "Belleville Egyptian Hustlers." I always wondered what that was, so I finally looked it up online and after scrolling through a bunch of annoying results for actual Egyptian hustlers, I found out that the Egyptian Hustlers were an organization of traveling salesmen from southern Illinois who held an annual convention that would apparently draw a huge crowd of people. (Belleville is a city in southern Illinois.) Underneath, it has what I assume are the dates of the convention - June 4, 5, and 6. So this picture was probably taken in May, and if we assume those dates are a weekend - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday - then the year could be 1909, when Timothy was 29, 1915 when he was 35, or maybe 1920 when he was 40...I don't think he looks much older than 40. But I'm sure if I did some more digging online I could find a newspaper story or journal or something saying when the Egyptian Hustlers came to New York in June. But it's interesting to see all these little visual clues you can find in photos - as genealogists we deal so much with verbal and written clues that sometimes we just skim over the visual ones that are sitting right there in front of us.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment