Old Photos: 1930s

The photos in this week’s post used to be mounted in a big photo album that sat on my parents’ coffee table when I was a growing up. It had a hinged wooden cover held together by a leather shoe string threaded through holes drilled into the narrow strip of wood on the left edge. The pages inside were black construction paper, and the photos were mounted with corner glue-on  tabs. I started looking through that album when I was a very little girl, and I would ask my mother about them. She would say the names of anyone I didn’t recognize and tell me something about where and when they were taken. The oldest photos, those taken in the 1930s, provided a glimpse into a time before I was born. Looking at them was like stepping into a time that looked very different from the one I was living in, and I longed to be able to step into them, be able to see and move around in that time that no longer existed. Those construction paper pages disintegrated long ago, but fortunately the photos were saved. The first two photoswere small, box camera snapshots, and the originals are now very fragile. The third and last photo is larger and in much better shape. I don’t know who took it.

The following two photos were taken in the back yard of my mother’s parents, Adam and Margaret Young, who had a dairy a few miles south of Lodi, California. It was taken in November of 1938. I was born in January of that year, but I am not present. I was likely in the house with my grandmother.

Jacob & Agnes

Jack & Agnes (Young) Willems, November 1938. My mother is 17, my father 24. I was 10 months old when this was taken.


In the picture above, my father stands on the right, in the white shirt and pants. His younger brother, Frank stands on the left. His oldest brother, Nick, sits on the running board. The little girl is my mother’s younger sister, Sylvia. Liz, the sister just older than my mother, sits on the running board.

The following picture was taken in Pismo Beach in  1937. Dad said my mother was pregnant with me when this was taken. Dad must have lost his job at the gas station, because by December of 1937 they were completely out of money and staying with my Willems grandparents to await my birth.


Jack Willems (white uniform) & Art Wipf. Pismo Beach, CA 1937





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