Sepia Saturday

Bleach Room Boys (Sepia Saturday 475)

I’m sharing photos of 3 boys this week for Sepia Saturday. Yes, the prompt shows young workers, but I was inspired to take a look at boys.

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Source: Preus Museum, n.d. | “Happy Boys”

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Source: Library of Congress, 1910 | Pin boys in Lowell, MA

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Source: Library of Congress, 1910 | Cigar factory, Tampa, FL

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Source: Florida Memory, circa 1947 | Playing cowboy

I thought I’d share a poem that celebrates boyhood.

The Barefoot Boy

by John Greenleaf Whittier

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy, –
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art, – the grown-up man
Only is republican.

Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye, –
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;

Continue reading

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L’Enfance Nue

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In the same vein as Truffaut’s 400 Blows, L’Enfance Neu presents the story of a troubled boy growing up in 1960s France. In fact, François Truffaut produced this first film directed by Maurice Pialat.

While the actors in both films resemble each other, their personalities and stories are distinct. L’Enfance Neu is about François, an 11 year old, in the foster care system. His mother has abandoned him temporarily when he was 4. She doesn’t write and the boy knows little of her and nothing of his father. At the start he lives with a family, who has had enough of him. He steals, wets his bed, hangs out with the “bad boys” who mistreat cats and probably any other pet or person they impetuously think would be fun to test.

Yet François has his good side. He buys his foster mom a gift with the money his foster father gave him for his own use. He is a normal brother to the foster parents’ “real” daughter, who tells the social worker she likes François and would miss him if he left. The mother has a laundry list of François’ every fault and misdeed and the social worker realizes its pointless to leave the boy in this setting.

So François is shipped off to a new town where he’s placed with an elderly couple, who’ve been foster parents to dozens of kids including the teen Raoul, who lives there now.  The couple is loving and pragmatic. They get exasperated when François gets in trouble with his hooligan friends, but they respond as most parents do and they forget his past deeds and see the good in this troubled boy.

The story doesn’t end by tying a bright satin bow on the end, but neither does it just stop without some resolution. It’s realistic and fair to all sides. It doesn’t provide easy answers. François’ certainly affected by his parents’ abandoning him, but he’s also no worse than the kids who have parents. None of them say, “We shouldn’t through the cat down the stairwell” or “We shouldn’t steal ice cream” at the movie theater. In that scene there were several older boys who knew better. In fact, one of the older boys was a lot more self-destructive than François.

I appreciated the realism and the fair shake all the characters got. You could sympathize with both the foster parents, François and the others in the film. While the foster system is far from perfect, these social workers were conscientious.

Pialat worked with non-actors and the natural performances were as good as any professional’s. This was Maurice Pialat‘s first film, which I highly recommend. I’d definitely seek out others.

Sepia Saturday

Sepia Saturday Theme Image 415

Playing board games has always been a favorite pastime of mine. I especially like backgammon, checkers, and Risk. My family often played Monopoly, but we never finished a game. Fun though they were, the games went on and on.

Here are some nostalgic photos of board games.

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From “Our Domestic Animals,” 1907

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Florida Checkers Championship, 1957

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Australian ship, 1934

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In Japan, the game go is very big. There are movies like March Comes in Like a Lion and television broadcasts of tournaments.

To see more interpretations, click here.

Digging a Hole to Heaven

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S. D. Nelson’s children’s book Digging a Hole to Heaven: Coal Miner Boys will teach readers about the hardships of the children who had to work deep in the mines during the 19th century. The illustrations are well done and show a sharp contrast between the dark mines and the sunny lives lived above ground. Throughout the story of 12 year old Conall, his brother and miners, Nelson has inserted sidebars with facts about child labor, and mining in particular.

I enjoyed the book, but wish the characters had more depth and personality. Each one was standard cookie cutter. Yet I still recommend the book as an introduction to this aspect of history, that’s usually forgotten.

Sepia Saturday

9 sept 2017

For this week’s prompt I found numerous photos of children playing. They live all over the world. It was a lot harder to find photos of girls playing. Most of the girls were depicted in drawings, not in photos.

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Children in New South Wales, Australia, 1924 Source: State Library of NSW

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Vietnamese children playing cards, 1904, Source: Univ of Washington

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Girls in Seattle, 1930, Source: Univ of Washington

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Boys in Albany, NY, 1910> Source: US National Archives

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Australian Girls, 1900. Source: Powerhouse Museum

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Madrid, Spain, 1908. Source: Geo. Eastman Museum

History of Video Games for Boys

I never knew this. It does make sense. Funny how one mistake has such staying power.

Do you play computer games? While I don’t play the battle sort of games, I do get hooked on word games and such. Right now I have to stop myself from playing Muggles, a dominos game. I’ve also been keen on Sudoku and Scrabble.