Monday, May 25, 2015


I have hastened past this photo more than once as I've trolled through old family photos. Today I realized with a jolt that the rather austere woman on the right is the very woman I was nearly named after.
Apparently in 1957, there was a bumper crop of babies born in the Royal Inland Hospital, and I was the 1000th. Woohooo, like.... "congratulations, you're the 1000th customer"- cue the confetti and balloons!!' The local paper reported this great moment in history but My mom always felt they could have at least given her a spoon or something.
Enter great, great Aunt Mildred.
My great grandmother's sister-in-law.
Some helpful soul actually suggested to my mother that since Mille and 1000 are sympatico, then calling me Mildred, whence I might be nicknamed Millie would be just the thing to do.
I was a little girl in the 60's and a teenager in the 70's. I can tell you first hand that Mildred was NOT a name that would have been at home in EITHER of those decades.
Mind you, I kind of like the name Millie now. It conjures up a certain retro sweetness.
Minnie and Millie and Ella and Allie. Those names would have walked arm and arm once upon a time.
It's taken more than a hundred years for people to re-discover their feminine sweetness.
Sorry Auntie.

I actually have something else to say about this photo of great, great Aunt Ella and great, great Aunt Mildred.
All names aside, the more I look at this picture, the more I love it.
Isn't body language a wondrous thing?
Aunt Ella is perched on the edge of the carriage. She is the picture of inner calm. Her hair is styled low over one ear with only the sun slanting down on it. Her hat isn't primly and properly in place, but held casually in her hands. The shapeless sweater adds a further casual note. Aunt Mildred to the right, is a stunning contrast. Her hat is exactly level, exactly large and exactly black. Her jacket is crisply tailored, almost sober. In fact, her stance says sober or perhaps propriety. It gives me a vague sense of unease. I've never been good with propriety. I've been good with shapeless sweaters and bare hair under the sun though.
And I've been good with leather shoes.
Aren't theirs great?

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