1946: Family Picnic at Letchworth State Park

Picnic at Letchworth State Park 1946My Aunt Mary shared this photo with me and I really love it. That’s my Grandmother, Delia Jane Feister Irvine, seated front left with the mischievous smile on her face as she holds a chicken leg up to her mouth. Across from her is my Great-Grandmother, Laura Jane Tidd Feister.

Clockwise around the table are (to the best of my knowledge): My Grandma (Delia), her youngest child John, my Grandpa (Jack), my great uncle Elsie, (a child I cannot identify), 2nd cousin Don, Jack & Delia’s 2nd oldest child Mary, and Great-Grandma (Laura).

What I love about this photo is that it captures the lighter side of my grandmother, who could be somewhat stern. I’ve heard that she possessed a wicked sense of humor, but I was too young to appreciate it. Her laugh was magic, though — I definitely remember that! Grandma wasn’t a silly woman who laughed at anything, so when she DID laugh, it was a genuine expression of mirth.

It’s heartwarming to be drawn into a scene like this … I can easily place myself there at the table with loving family enjoying a fine day at the park.

The photo was taken in 1946 at beautiful Letchworth State Park, about half-way between Rochester and Olean, NY. It’s just after the War, when the nation’s mood was riding high on a hard fought Peace. After years of deprivation and loss, Americans were relieved to get on with living a “normal” life.

Some details about the photo that I find quaint: the women are wearing dresses! Great-Grandma Laura is wearing a frilly apron. It appears they are using real plates, not disposable paper ones, and there is a big pot of something in the middle of the table … pork n’ beans maybe? Don is being a typical goofy little boy: using his teeth and lips to hold a cup in his mouth.

I’ll be heading to New York soon for a summer trip. I need to remember to not only take digital photos as I spend precious time with family and friends, but have them printed off. Who knows? Perhaps nearly 70 years later, a distant family member may share the photo?

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