The Long Way Home


Violet Geraldine
November 18, 2012, 7:32 AM
Filed under: Vintage Photo Album | Tags: , , ,

geraldine, 1925

My wedding and engagement rings belonged to Jeff’s grandmother Geraldine and for the years I’ve worn them, I’ve felt a connection to her. What was she like? I ask Jeff from time to time. Baby, she looked just like Steven Tyler, he said. With this introduction, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

1926

Born Violet McLaughlin in Somerville, Pennsylvania in the early 1900s, she aspired to be a famous singer. Jeff remembers spending evenings at her house as a kid, sitting on a tiny metal bench and watching “The Lawrence Welk Show”; she knew all the songs. She loved the Carter Family and encouraged Jeff to play guitar, even though she wanted him to take up the banjo. Despite being a conservative, religious woman, she supported Jeff’s fascination with monster movies and all things strange, promising to take him to see experimental Swiss mimes Mummenschanz (which, sadly, never happened). So when we came across Jeff’s old family photos and found the above picture of Geraldine, it surprised us to see how beautiful she was (nothing like Steven), how fashionable and spunky  leaning against a decked-out car next to her two sisters. Jeff was even more surprised to learn that her birth name is Violet, but preferred Geraldine, and wondered why she changed it. Was it considered a more modern name at the time, like Madison or Brittany is today? Was it her future stage name? It’s like hearing stories about two different women, and I wonder if Violet-Geraldine often felt divided as she got older, singing gospel songs in her kitchen while dreaming of stardom.

twila, 1925

1925

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12 Comments so far
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Hi Lisa. Thanks for being at my blog and commenting so often. Just wondering if you saw the follow-up comments on the post of the man with the book with his leg in stocks that you expressed an interest in. Scott from DCphotoartist had some interesting insights. http://mugshotsandmiscellaneous.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/bizarre-victorian-photographers-prop/

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Comment by Photobooth Journal

thanks, katherine – i loved reading what your ‘net friend had to say!

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Comment by Lisa

Fascinating story and great photos–every family has its secrets and enigmas and this is a good one to be sure. Funny, too, because Violet is such a lovely name. Maybe it was the influence of Lawrence Welk? 🙂

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Comment by Michael Williamson

hi michael,
i love violet too, that’s why i was confused when she preferred to be called geraldine – jeff was most surprised since he didn’t know!

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Comment by Lisa

Wonderful story and pictures. Twila Geraldine’s sister?

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Comment by Photobooth Journal

thanks, katherine!
twila is geraldine’s sister, and so is the other woman. unfortunately, we don’t know her name.

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Comment by Lisa

I used to think that my Grandmother’s name was Grandma Darlin’ because she’d say “Come sit with Grandma, Darlin'”.

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Comment by jeff

This is one of my favorite stories about her (that, and still using her potato masher for mashed potatoes!).

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Comment by Lisa

my husband still has his great granddads potato masher and we use it some times.

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Comment by naimavanswol

that’s sweet – i didn’t know until i met jeff that potato mashers were family heirlooms (hehe). but it sure has come in handy in the kitchen.

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Comment by Lisa

Wow. This particular blog entry left me thinking, reminiscing. Your words always leave me wanting to hear more. They make me ache for all the forgotten stories of my family, or they make me want to explore the untapped potential within myself. There are so many stories of the dreams of so many of us almost coming true. Yours and Jeff’s family tapestry is rich with so much color. And Mummenschanz is a word I have not hear in years. Maybe I will watch some old clips on You Tube to reset my memory.

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Comment by motherblue212

Hearing that Geraldine wanted to be a singer struck a chord with me (er, so to speak). But I realize after writing it that maybe I’m reading into what she really wanted out of life through my “modern” notions of what we need in order to be happy. Also, Mumenschanz was on “The Muppet Show” as you may recall – which is totally weird, but awesome!

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Comment by Lisa




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