A Late-Victorian Winter ~ Tonawanda, NY

artwhiz47

Hamburg, United States

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Artist's Description

Circa 1900.

My maternal grandparents, George & Mabel (Hobbie) Elson, the same as appear here in less dignified circumstances, take the team out for a run in the snow in Tonawanda, Erie County, NY. I would guess that my granduncle Bert Hobbie, my grandmother’s brother, a pest of a shutterbug all his life, took this snapshot with his Kodak. They are parked in front of 178 Fletcher Street, the so-called ‘Big House In Tonawanda’ which was, at one time, the biggest house in the city. My mother was born in this house in 1912, as were her two older siblings, in 1900 & 1905. To the left can be seen the house of Mabel’s maternal grandfather, Dr. Pliny Harold Hayes. Two other family homes, those of Pliny’s two doctor sons, Harold & Frank, also flanked The Big House. They weren’t quite as big.
The little cutter in which the ancestors are riding was painted a kind of dark yellow color & had bits of painted scrollwork & other decorations on it. Quite enchanting it was, & when I was a child growing up along the Niagara in Lewiston, NY, this sleigh hung in the rafters of the old barn & was always a source of wonder & entertainment. We used to make up stories about it – odd snowy adventures that sometimes took us tumbling over the river bank or back along the old farm lane next door. That barn was in itself a source of wonder – full of interesting memorabilia including a moldy stuffed Ringneck pheasant, horsey tack, books, clay pigeons, microscope slides from Uncle Bert’s med school days, & a slew of treasures. Kind of the Ultimate Attic.

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