Monday, September 3, 2012

A Summer Picnic

This is the long Labor Day weekend in the United States, when many people have their last picnic or barbecue of the summer. Did you ever wonder what picnics were like for our forebears a hundred years ago? I came across some photos of a family picnic of July 4, 1908 in a drawer in my grandmother's house:

Picnic at Big Nose, July 4, 1908

The photo is labeled, "Big Nose, July 4, 1908." My great-grandparents, Kittie and Fred Fineour, are center rear; my grandfather Will Wetterau is at the front left; Grandma Minnie is second from right in the front. The other picnickers are their friends, the Glockners. They all look so serious, don't they? I suppose it was not easy to organize transportation and food for seven people on a hot day, with no air conditioned car. Behind the group is the Mohawk River, and beyond the river a mountain called Little Nose.

The ladies went wading in the river:

Kittie Fineour and Emma Glockner wading in the Mohawk River

It looks like the party livened up a bit later:

"Are we having fun yet?"

The family and their friends must have had fun, because it appears that they went back to the same place the following year. Another photo labeled July 4, 1909 shows the same group in slightly different garb:

Picnic at Big Nose, July 4, 1909

I believe that the young boy in the photo may be Minnie's younger brother Frederic, who would have been about four years old at the time. Notice the hats: Mrs. Glockner had a wide-brimmed hat to protect her from the sun, her husband a smaller one, and great-grandpa Fred had a bowler that looks a bit small for his head. But long-sleeved shirt and tie were apparently de rigueur for all the men, as was long skirt and shirtwaist for the ladies. Quite different from the skimpy costumes we see at picnics in our day!


  1. Those ladies are showing their ankles!! Scandalous!!

  2. Just wait now -- a few years later and hemlines would begin to rise . . . first to calf-length, then to the knees. Just think of all the changes in fashion our great-grandparents saw!