Photograph of the week – Mother’s Day, 1939

This photograph was given to our family after our father died, by our “Uncle” Augie.  Augie had been a good friend of his from when they were growing up in Harrison, NJ.  We were comforted by Uncle Augie at the afternoon wake for our father, and then surprised when he pulled out copies of this photograph for us to keep.  My siblings and I had never seen this, and had very few photographs of our father from his youth.  We added it to the photographs displayed on the table at the funeral home, and then listened to Uncle Augie’s stories of the good old days.

Taken at Bobby Lennox’s Gas Station, in Harrison, New Jersey, on Mother’s Day, 1939, it lists some of the names of the young men.  Starting in the back row, on the left, is James “Red” Doran.  With his hat tilted at a rakish angle, Jim was only 19 years old, but looking all grown-up.  Next to him was his buddy, Augie Simonet.  Then – Frank Arlotto, Tom McLoughlin, unknown, Muzzey ?, Joe Polo, and Streck ?.  Kneeling in the front –  Beans Miller & Eddie Zarjarski.  This was from the era of great nicknames and very dapper looking gentlemen!

Back then there was a custom of wearing lapel carnations honoring your mother on Mother’s Day.  If your mother was alive you wore a red carnation.  If she had died, you honored her memory with a white one.  The carnations were given out at a special Mother’s Day Mass, in this case most likely at Holy Cross Church.  Although this custom seems to have ended quite a few years ago, at my church carnations are still handed out to all the mothers on Mother’s Day.

Family isn’t only relations documented by family lineage, but sometimes is defined by being kindred spirits.  Some honorary aunts and uncles, and also godparents,  have made it into my family tree.

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