It’s Easter weekend, a time to get all gussied up. The Easter parade is an American tradition dating to 1870. In the years since, these parades have offered a chance for Americans to put on their Sunday best and strut among their neighbors.
But the parades peaked in popularity over a half-century ago and are a mere blip on our current American culture radar. Still, Easter Sunday is one of two religious holidays (Christmas is the other) that even casual members of an organized faith observe.
It’s one of those special occasions – like funerals, weddings and posing for family photos – that forces a man (or child) into a suit. It’s also a time for picture taking, as a spin through your family photo album will reveal. For many of us, these dressed up photos may be the only ones we have of a long-deceased relative.
But what do these photos really reveal to us? Do they show us a man who normally rolls up his sleeves and digs into his chosen vocation with back-breaking vigor? Or the woman whose days are spent behind an apron, tending to the family garden, sweating over a hot kitchen stove or scrubbing her brood’s clothing by hand? Did those kids really sit up straight all the time, with clean fingernails and a spotless face?
Photos of relatives in their Sunday best should be valued and cherished for what they are – a formal snapshot taken at an important time in their lives. To really learn about the people in the photo, though, you’ll have to dig a bit deeper.
Old photo tip: Betty Kreisel Shubert has a clever way to date old photos by using tracing paper and books to identify the clothing.
Writing prompt of the day: Examine a formal photo of your own family and write about what was going on with each person pictured at the time it was taken, who took it and why.
Photo: Jack & Elsie's handsome Lehmer boys of North 28th Street in Council Bluffs.