Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sepia Saturday: A Smooth Operator and Some Traveling Men

I was delighted to read that this week's Sepia Saturday theme is WORK, because it gives me the opportunity to post two of my all-time favorite photos. Both of them have been posted here before, but it's been nearly six years, and the clothes alone make them worth a repeat.

My maternal grandmother, Lola (a/k/a Mammaw), keeps popping up in these Sepia Saturday posts, and she's here again today. Lola worked as a telephone operator in Waynesville, Missouri, in 1917, two years before she met and married my grandfather.

In 1984 she wrote this to my daughter (spelling and punctuation are hers):  "I hope you and your boyfriend are doing fine go with him and get really acquianted. But that was not my case. I was going to bussiness college in another city from my home town a girl friend ask me to doubledate with a boy just home from the army (WWI) and we went to a show, that was on the 10th of July and the 1st of Oct. we were married 47 yrs. (or until death did we part) and it wasn't always a bed of roses, we had our ups and downs."

Switching to my father's side of the family, the other work-related photo I want to show you features my great-great-grandfather, Samuel (on the left below), and his son, my great-grandfather, Ernest. The photo doesn't show them on the job, but the tools of their trade make it obvious what kind of work they did.

These two were originally from upstate New York. Their work as carpenters kept them traveling to the mid-west, and the family eventually settled in Stone County, Missouri.


The photo of Mammaw was the inspiration for this week's Saturday Song Selection. I can never hear this song without being mentally transported back to New York, where I heard it first when my own growing family lived there in the mid-1970s. Old photos and old songs. Nostalgia. It gets to me every time.


The song is "Operator" by Jim Croce. 
(Click here to read the lyrics.) 
Thanks to maxstratos for posting this video on YouTube. 

Now, get to WORK and see what other Sepia Saturday bloggers have posted this week. Just click on the image below to find them.


  1. Those are indeed two great photos. I love all the equipment around your grandmother; the hanging microphone and the switchboard with all the switches. The two men look very cool, like they played an important part in the Wild West.

  2. This is a wonderful pair of photographs Linda, but I'm fascinated by the one of your grandmother actually at her station as operator. I love that Jim Croce song and have it on an album. It gets to me too because he died so young.

  3. The photo of your grandmother made me really nostalgic as I worked as a receptionist in the early 60s with equipment that looked very much like the one in that photo. I just loved plugging in those cords and putting people in touch with each other. How times have changed!
    And that photo of the working men with the tools of their trade. Priceless.

  4. I think the funniest thing I ever saw on TV was Lily Tomlin doing "One RingyDingy" on Laugh In.

    You can watch it on YouTube here:
    One RingyDingy

  5. Postcardy beat me to the punch -- I thought of Lily Tomlin too with her One RingyDingy. My sister and I still call each other and say, "Is this the party to whom I am speaking?"

  6. Wonderful photos of your grandparents and what treasures for your family. Like the song selection - I was a kid when Jim Croce was popular, but I always liked his music.

  7. Two wonderful pictures - and a fair helping of equally wonderful words. I have always been fascinated by those old fashioned telephone exchanges where connections seemed to be made in a very real and physical sense.

  8. Having once sat at an Army switchboard during the night I remember how confusing it was with a lot of plugs. Wonderful pictures especially the men with their carpentry tools.

  9. Great photo Linda. I had a friend who was an operator in the "50's. She has fond memories of the job. Rosie.

  10. I've always been fascinated with the old switchboards and wondered how they did it. Great photos.

  11. The apparatus in the first pic is simply fascinating. Great mood too!
    And the guys look proud, showing off their tools.

  12. How lucky you are to have pics of your relatives at work. Lola looks as though she was very efficient, and I take it that Samuel and Ernest were joiners :-) Jo


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