Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Kay Albums

It must be confusing, the way I jump back and forth from one side of my family to the other. Neither side, of course, could care less about the other. Today, it’s briefly back to the Smiths, my mother’s family. I’ll continue with great great grandfather George William Lillies’ 1840s journal soon.

Kathleen Maureen Smith, circa 1934?
I began this blog last June, writing about an ancient photo album of my mother, Betty Smith’s, from the 1930s. I had scanned, and posted it, as a kind of e-book, here at Flickr. I didn’t realize at the time that Betty’s sister Kathleen (Kay) had purchased or been given an almost identical book – faux leather cover, black construction paper pages, all held together with decorative string – at about the same time in the mid-1930s, and had created her own album. Her daughter, cousin Toby Yull, kindly lent it to me, along with a second album of her mother’s.

Kay and Betty, circa 1936
It’s tempting to draw conclusions about the characters of the two sisters based on the differences in their albums. There are marginally more pictures of friends in Kay’s, for example, especially groups of friends. Kay labeled her pictures more informatively – and in neater printing – and took a little more care arranging them on the pages. One generally gets a sense of greater confidence and joie de la vie in Kay’s album.

Kay, circa mid-1930s
But really, they’re very similar. Kay and Betty were close as sisters. The whole family was close – as many of the pictures make clear.

Grandmother Edith (Gladman) Smith, 1912
The two sisters evidently divvied up the stock of old family photos. There are some real gems in both albums. I’ve included some of my favourites from Kay’s here.

Great grandmother Kate (Langdale) Smith with baby Jack, 1915
I’ve also scanned every page, at 200% of original size and posted them in order at Flickr. Kay’s Album, No. 1, is here. I used some simple tools in Photoshop to improve the pictures, mostly correcting problems with tone resulting from fading (and poorly taken pictures). And because I scanned them in greyscale, they appear more like the black and white photos they originally were. Most had become sepia-toned over the years, as old pictures will. (The slight sepia tone that remains in the pictures I've included here is something that Blogger does to them, annoyingly.)

You could consider this album, Kay Before Ralph. The motorbike-mad grocer’s son doesn’t even make an appearance in this one. In the other album Toby lent me – next up for scanning – it’s all about Ralph. Stay tuned Yulls and Yull fans.

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