So That's Where I Get It From

June 27, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Silent movies; film studios and old photos

While I have been trying to rearrange all my genealogical paperwork, documents, nic-nacs and all sorts I came across some old photos that have been in my collection for over 40 years. 

And seeing these photos again after having them tucked away for such a long time, made me feel nostalgic and sentimental so I thought they might be interesting for today’s Sentimental Sunday post.

When I was about 20 (very late 1960s) I started work at Associated British Productions Limited in Boreham Wood in Hertfordshire.  This particular film studio, along with the one at nearby Elstree was what would have been the English equivalent of Hollywood except on a much much smaller scale.

I had always been interested in film-making from a very young age and very much wanted to work in film studios.  At school I was told not to be so silly and one of the few options they suggested for me for a future career was to get married!!

I eventually managed to get this dream (to me) job at Associated British Productions and on my first day in my new office I was told I could clear out the desk and throw away anything I did not want!  I set about rummaging in the six or so deep drawers and in the bottom one, tucked away at the back, there was this crumpled package in an old brown envelope.

On opening this package I immediately became aware that it was many photos that had been taken during the making of very old films at the Studio.  I had a word with my boss and he said to just throw them away, they were not needed and obviously so old they would not be any good for anything!!  I really did not want to throw them away.  My great interest in history made me aware that this was definitely not something to throw away.  I checked with my boss that maybe it’s best not to throw them away, so what should I do with them.  He told me again, just throw them away or if you like them, keep them!  So I kept them.

They are backstage photos of a number of films dating from 1929 to about 1936.  These films were silent movies and one was actually the very first British talkie, Blackmail, which was directed by a very young Alfred Hitchcock.

What I love about them is that they show the early days of how films were made.  The cameras are great!!  Have a look at these:

original photograph in my private collection – copyright 2010

I don’t know the name of the film that was being made in the photo above – there is no title written on the back as in the later photos I show.

original photograph in my private collection – copyright 2010

 This is a silent movie called His Wife’s Mother made in 1931. 

original photograph in my private collection – copyright 2010

 This photo and the next few are just a sample of those 104 pics in this collection!

original photograph in my private collection – copyright 2010

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

 and some of the film stars of the day

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

This is Betty Balfour (1903 – 1977) an English film actress and known at the time as “the British Mary Pickford”.

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

This is Lester Mathews (1900 – 1975) in Fires of Fate.  He made 180 appearances in films and television.

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

This film is Romance of Seville and I would think that these three people were maybe the main stars.  Their names are not shown on the reverse so I cannot name them.  This silent movie was made about 1929.

And if you have managed to get this far, here are a couple of pics of me at the same studio – photos taken on a lunch break with work mates on the back lot. Photos circa 1970 – 1974 (I can’t remember exactly when)!!

This first one is me pretending to be in a film star pose!!!!!

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

and this next one is me with my friends Pauline and Linda popping out from behind me!  You can see we had a lot of fun on our lunch breaks, roaming around the studio.

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

Finding the silent movie photos reminded me so much of my first day at my exciting new place of excitement.  I worked there a number of years and can honestly say that I never took a sneaky day off sick.  I loved the job and the place so very much, it was always interesting and I met so very many interesting people, not just the film stars!

June 20, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: My Dad – as it’s Father’s Day

Filed under: DAILY BLOGGING THEMES, Sentimental Sunday — Tags: , , — rootsresearcher @ 11:00 pm

For this Sentimental Sunday and as it is Father’s Day I thought I would mention my dear Dad.  He is Kenneth Read and has sadly been gone from us for quite a number of years now.

Dad had a great interest in our family history and made quite a start on it and was delighted to get back to the mid 1800s in Buckinghamshire.  He, like us, thought we were Londoners!!

Since he passed away the internet has arrived and there is just so much out there for those of us seeking our ancestors.  He so would have loved what we do now, and the genealogy blogs, and I think he would be quite chuffed to find himself the subject of this Father’s Day Sentimental Sunday!!

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

This photo was taken in our garden one summer when I was about 15 years old so Dad would have been about 40 years old.  With us are Susie (in my arms) and Dora, two of the three poodles we had.

The next photo shows Dad as a much younger man, in the very early 1940s.  He joined the Merchant Navy when he was 15 (he told them he was 16!!) and this photo was taken somewhere on his travels during the War years.

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

My dear Dad – I think of you always, but especially today – I miss you so much.

May 2, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: My Dad’s Collection of Old Documents

As I recently moved this blog to here, I have been busy scanning old documents, parish register copies, Wills, and more besides to my computer so that I can add bits and pieces to this blog.

In doing this I came across the scans I had done of the various items my dear late Dad collected.  He loved old documents, old records, Wills and all sorts (ahh, so that’s where I get it from!!) and he built up a collection of various documents thirty – forty plus years ago, that he then took a lot of time to show at their best in frames.  These were then hung on the wall in my parents home. The framed “pictures”  always created a lot of interest, not only with us but all visitors to my parents’ home.  None of these items was anything to do with our own family history, with the exception of just one which I will show here later and talk about in another post.

My dear Dad’s collection ranged from a Commission into the Marines of a particular gentleman in 1760 signed by King George II; A letter from the Prince of Wales to Lord Carnarvon (who I believe was involved with the discovery of  Tutenkamen’s Tomb – forgive me if I am wrong and please feel free to correct me)  written in 1874; A letter written in 1811 by Nelson’s Hardy when he was an Admiral himself  and a piece of Coptic Tapestry (part of the clothing of someone taken from a burial ground – not by my Dad I hasten to add) and dated circa 3 or 4 AD and various other items along those lines.

Photo taken of my dear Dad at his place of work to celebrate 25 years Long Service with them - copyright 2010

I thought as this was a Sentimental Sunday post about my dear Dad’s special collection that he loved so very much and that we (his family) now treasure between us, that I would start by showing here first just an ordinary letter, written by an ordinary woman (as opposed to those described above) who lived in Boston and was writing to her sister in 1864 – on 4 of July.  I know, perhaps for our American friends I should really leave this until that anniversary, but it has so much detail in it and although nothing to do at all with any of my ancestors, it makes me feel I need to discover who this woman is and find out more about that particular day and the other details she writes about.

The letter is written over four pages and I will add a transcript too: (Just click on the pages of the letters to see them more clearly)

Original document in my private collection - copyright 2010

Boston July 4 1864    Dear Sister

I have waited long and patiently(?) for a letter. (?) I thought you must be sick to be so long silent. and oh Martha I am so sorry for you. how lone-some it must be for you up there above if I could only come to you. I shall try to see you before cold weather. somehow or other. be sure of that. you tell me you have grown poor and your hair has come off. what does ail you. why don’t you have the Doctor and see (?) what the matter is. I am just the other way I have not weighed so much for years as I do this summer I wish you was half as well as I am. yes Nettie has been hear and gone again. she staid here one week with Mrs. B but she got sick up her Bargain. Nettie won’t (?) you know. s they could not agree she went at 36 to lodge and took her meals where Frank was at work. she had the Varioloid last week very light. she is out now.

Original Document in my private collection - copyright 2010

she came in this morning to bid me good bye as she was going to Chelsea Beach to stay all summer. Frank is at work there now at the Ocean House and she is going to wait on the table. I have got her things hear. but I don’t want Mrs. B to know it. she is just as mad as can be because Nettie comes hear so much. she told Nettie she supposed you would marry the Widower now. she has got it all Planned out you see. the mean old thing. she told me the other day that you owned up that you were home-sick. the reason you went away – I told her I did not believe it. and that I was going to see if I could not get a good place for you – where you would not have to work so hard and then I was going to send for you. you know that joey has got the house now I suppose. the man that bought it would not let Mrs. B have it so joey took it. they live a great deal Better than they did. she is going away this

Original document in my private collection - copyright 2010

week. and I am so glad. Bessie. (that is joeys girl) is going to keep house for her

has it been very noisy there this 4 of july. it has here so far. the din in my ears is enough to craze one. I have not been out to day and it is 3 o clock now – I must leave off now and go and see the Balloons go up when I come back I will finish

7 oclock I have just got home from the common. have seen the Balloons. they went off nice I tell you. the small one Gen Grant. went first. with only one man in it. the other. the Star Spray(?) had Banner(?) with 6 men. went up at 6 oclock. oh what a crode was there. I don’t think I ever saw such a sight of folks on the common in my life it don’t look much like war times strawberries 75 ct a box cherries 45 a (?) Ice Creams 20 ct last year they were 10 ct. but for all that they sell just as many as ever they did. I am going to see the

Original document in my private collection - copyright 2010

fire works to night I wish you were here to go to.

Mrs. Fleming upstairs has got a Baby a little boy 5 weeks old today. Mr. Balton(?) has had the old stuff carried off out of the yard. shed. and cellar. and he has been sick ever since it was like parting with his life. the old miser. we are going to have the old shed torn down and a new built.

I can not think of any more nonsense to write now so I must close. from your sister. Martha

____________________________________

I thank you for your flowers and send me some more when you write again. I shall surly come to see you if I can get the mony and I think joe (?) let me know it as he is at work now. but will Mr. Ellis like me to come if so write and tell me and how much it cost and how I shall come. Martha.

When my Dad first received this letter for his collection, we were amazed that it had found it’s way to the UK and wondered why it was not in the hands of Martha’s descendants.  Dad absolutely loved all the detail in it and when he first had that letter, there was no internet, so no easy-ish way we could do any research on it.  So for many years, Dad and us always wondered about it.

And all these years later I still want to know some answers to questions that my dear Dad asked about it:  Is Martha’s sister “up there above” maybe in Canada?  What is a Varioloid?  Is Ocean House on Chelsea Beach still extant?  Are there any staff records that might show us who Frank and Nettie are?  Is there anything in the old newspapers that might show pics or describe the events as the  Balloons  “go up” on the common?  Is there any description about the crowd of people there?  Martha says “it don’t look much like war times … ” – forgive an ignorant Brit, but what war?  Is there any possibility that we could find Mrs. Fleming and her baby boy “five weeks old today” in a Census that might then show us the house that Martha was living in?  Would Mr. Ellis be Martha’s sister “up there above”‘s husband or employer?

So many questions!!  And such a wonderfully decriptive letter.

As a complete contrast, here is another fairly intriguing document from my Dad’s collection.  He loved this, it is a Commission raising a Gentleman to the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Marines and signed by King George II in 1760.

The document is a little big, so you will see most of it here and I show the signatures separately for a clearer look.

Original document in my private collection - copyright 2010

Just click on the images to see them larger and clearer!

This Commission is dated 30th June 1760 and was given at the Royal Court at Kensington Palace.

From an original document in my private collection - copyright 2010

This was probably one of last Commissions signed by King George II  as he died in 1760 soon after the date on the Commission. 

From an original document in my private collection - copyright 2010

The First Lord of the Admiralty, Admiral George Anson (1697 – 1762) is the first signature here, then G. Hay and I think it is H. Stanley – the latter two I have not yet researched!!

My Dad was always puzzled about how this Commission for Richard Nash Young was not kept within his own family.  It is clear that the document itself had been folded very small and because of the colouring on the folds, must have been tucked away in a pocket or wallet for a very long time.  Dad always puzzled over Richard Nash Young, did he have a good career, where did he travel to, did he have a wife and children and so on.

As a surprise for my Dad, the year he received that Commission, I decided that as a birthday present I would give him all the answers to his questions!!  Little did I realise that that was an almost impossible task!  For Dad’s birthday I did find out that Richard Nash Young was based at Plymouth and Portsmouth for a while and was often the Officer on Duty and wrote out Parole items – I think this was like a daily diary.  He did comment one day that the Prince of Wales was coming and everyone had to have “all their necessaries” ready for inspection!!  Probably about forty years later I am still researching Richard Nash Young.  He is not an ancestor but created such interest for my Dad and in turn, in particular, me.

I found he married in the South of England.  I know he had at least three children as his Will mentions his third and legal son Richard Young.  I know he was connected to St. Mary le bone in London, (or Surrey in those days) and apart from that I discovered he died in 1795.  He remained a Second Lieutenant for the whole of his 35 year career as a Marine and found a book in the National Archives that shows the names of all the Marines for particular years.  All the names have a comment against them such as “pleasant man”, “decent”, “honest”, “bad lot”, “untrustworthy” etc., but Richard Nash Young has no comment against his name, good or bad!!  This intrigues me very very much.  In another book he has against his name D.D. (I think it is May) 1795 and one other name in the book on that page also has exactly the same written against his name – D. D. (I think May but the same as Richard Nash Young’s) 1795.  I discovered that D. D. stands for Discharged Dead!!  So, both these men died at the same time and have the same written against their names.  No others for that year have this written against their names, so only Richard Nash Young and another died at the same time, same year.  Put that together with the fact that no-one would comment about what sort of man RNY was when everyone else had a comment whether they were bad or good and put that together with the fact that RNY did not rise in rank in 35 years, it makes me wonder what his life was really like in the Marines and what sort of man he was.  I can’t help thinking that he maybe died in a duel with the other guy!!?

My Dad would have loved all this if he had known, such a shame I was not able to discover some of this while he was still with us.

 

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