“Now what’s wrong with this picture?” Well, if you’re still looking… my son (2) is holding a beer bottle… hopefully daddy’s empty Budweiser… and probably given to keep him from wiggling so much in Mama Bryan’s lap… but I bet there was still a left-over swig in the bottom!
In coming across photos like this… it has me so wishing to travel back in time and enjoy that day again… just one more time! And definitely bringing my digital camera to snap more photos… and ask questions… and boy do I have questions! I suppose the first question would be to daddy… “why did you give your grandson that beer bottle?”
In this photo: Grandmamma Bryan (Evelyn), Granddaddy Bryan (Paul) sitting in front with great-great grandson, Stephen, on lap… I’m (Jeanne) standing behind with my father, Clayton Bryan. Photo-bombing behind us is Aunt Vivian & Uncle Floyd Bryan with granddaughter Regina Bryan. I’m assuming Regina’s dad, Robert Bryan, was there also… and took this picture. This photo, is one of only a few, where my father isn’t holding a beer or a cigarette; and he would have had that “Bud” in his hand, but he’d already handed it off to great grandson. My peeking in… also spies his cigarette pack hiding in his shirt pocket… he was always ready for one! (Revision: My granddaughter, Ella, messaged me after reading, and asked “Where was Pop?” In re-thinking the photographer, it was hubby. I don’t believe my cousin Robert came that day.)
As I delve deeper into the background of this special photograph, I also see Mama Bryan’s clothesline and granddaddy’s cornfield, where he grew the best corn. One side of the car shed is showing… and that side was always where the best doodle-bug holes could be found in the sandy floor… nothing better than to walk barefoot on that white sand floor. Just ask all the cousins on the doodle bugs! There was also another side to the car shed that was accessed by the back walk around… and the middle was an enclosed tool shed; another favorite place to sneak away and play… until discovered! Walking around under the shed was always my favorite… so much to look at, and I often found goodies in there that I’d beg for… like the couple of glass stick-candy jars grandmama had saved… and yes I brought them home!
I believe I’m barefoot in this photo, but I did have sneakers on my son. Mama Bryan is wearing her “famous” white stockings for circulation problems; I don’t think I ever saw her bare legs! Usually Granddaddy Bryan always had a cigar in-hand, so I’m surprised no cigar in this photo or even one sticking out of his shirt pocket, but I’m sure he had one tucked/hidden away somewhere; maybe Mama Bryan had chastised him not to smoke while Stephen was there! He never was without one… or a toothpick, which got him into trouble on one occasion. Granddaddy often nodded off with a toothpick sticking out the corner of his mouth… and on one day, that toothpick slid down into his stomach and he had to have surgery to remove it… but that never stopped him from his toothpick habit! The doctors first thought he had appendicitis, but once they went in, they discovered that instead it was a toothpick which had punctured his intestines. I can’t imagine swallowing a toothpick and not even realizing it!
If you’re wondering why I called my grandmother, Mama Bryan… well, I don’t really know, but often Southern grandmothers end up with various names just like I hear for the Italian grandmothers in the family I married into. I did call my mother’s mom, grandmamma, so maybe it began so I could distinguish who I was talking to, but I’ll never know now, as I have no one to ask. Other cousins called their grandmothers by names of just Mama, Other Mama, and even Big Mama, so my Mama Bryan fit right in. I’m not called grandma or grandmama… and I never wanted to be called that… I’m known as “GiGi” by my granddaughters, and my mother was called Angel. They picked up on that name as she was nicknamed the “1 Angel” by her friends when she began using the CB radio in her car… and it stuck with them. My son, Stephen, would often say, “she’s my Angel” when he heard others call her that name!
I’m sure my “Las Vegas” shirt was probably brought back to me by my mother-in-law from her trip there, but my shorts most likely were once long jeans. I always cut my jeans to make shorts, just so I could fringe the bottoms… that was the “fad” back then. I loved the fringing part… the beginning of my craft genes showing up! I look pretty thin in this photo, but I never looked at myself as thin… the mirror always told me I was “not thin.” I even remember Mama Bryan telling me I was “big bone”… I’m sure that didn’t help my self esteem! But in looking at this photo… I’d so love to be this size again!
…moving on to Photo no. 2 at the Bryan Home in Union Point, Georgia!
Looking deep into this photo of me with son, Stephen, and my father, tells me that it most likely was taken before the above one… as daddy is still holding onto his “Bud.” I can clearly see the outline and photo of his Lucky Strikes cigarette pack in his top shirt pocket… later he changed to smoking Marlboro’s… the only cigarette promoted as “the real cigarette.” No matter what he’s drinking, or smoking… I can never find enough photos of me with my father! As to daddy’s clothing… he always wore a button down shirt and always pants with a belt… and usually a watch, but that arm is hidden around me. I can’t remember daddy every wearing pull-over shirts or even shorts.
Mama often said I had more of the Bryan look than her McKinley side, but I still see my mother in my face. But I definitely inherited the Bryan stubbornness and bossiness… just ask my husband! He never thought he’d marry a Southern girl, as most Italian families wanted their sons to marry a “nice Italian girl” but he told me that his Uncle Frank might have put the thought of marrying a Southern girl with an accent in his head. One day while at Marshall’s garage, a southern girl walked in with that accent, and Uncle Frank kept saying, “boy, I love that accent.“
Most likely, this photograph was taken on a Sunday afternoon… just after finishing Sunday dinner on the back porch dinner table. In remembering past meals, I’m sure there was a “big” bowl of cream style corn made from granddaddy’s fresh-picked corn that morning. He never picked anything unless it was going to be eaten that day. Besides corn, there would be bowls of many veggies like green beans, black-eyed peas, butter beans and if any sweet potatoes were still hiding out in his ‘tater hill, then those would be on the table also… or even better, a sweet potato cobbler waiting for after dinner. Mama Bryan usually had two meats on the table, often it was fried chicken (my favorite) and some type of beef roast… and always a pitcher of sweet tea; and as this was the South… no table is complete without sweet tea, or some home-made biscuits. I remember how I had the strangest eating habit of filling my biscuit with cream corn and just eating them together… oh so good! Most meals were taken out on their back porch, except for holidays or cold days… but it wasn’t normal to me unless I ate on the porch. I can see the ladder-back chairs in this photo, and I know granddaddy’s field hat is hanging up, just inside the back door, along with his satchel and buckets used for corn and vegetable pickings. His comfy rocking chair is there also, where he often took an afternoon nap.
Another item I noticed in these two photos were the prominence of daddy’s Navy tattoo of the “swallow” bird. (On the side by the swallow is his name of H. C. Bryan) In my research on why the swallow, I discovered that is was a symbol used often by sailors to denote their sailing days. One legend is that if a sailor is tattooed with one swallow, it denoted they had sailed over 5,000 nautical miles. In as I only see one, I might assume he had this done upon his return from the Bikini Islands Atomic bomb blasts… or possibly had it done while there… but most probably done in San Diego before sailing. The swallow birds return to the same location every year to mate and make nest, and the swallow is meant to guarantee the sailors safe return home. Another legend was the sailor would have one swallow tattooed before leaving to ensure his safe return… while one or more denoted a very experienced sailor. It was also said, that if a sailor drowns, the swallow will carry his soul to heaven… and I’m sure while out on the ships, that was a thought that weighed heavily on their minds. So, it’s most probable that daddy, along, with his mates had their tattoos in San Diego before sailing out on the U. S. Blue Ridge to the Bikini Islands for the atomic bomb blasts. I only wish I had had the insight to have asked details on that tattoo… and why not a second one as he did sail again on the U.S. Washburn. You can read more on the trip to the Bikini Islands over HERE.
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