Friday, September 02, 2005

Sweet Sixteen: 1921 Style

Zula (Perdue) Brown, age 16, 1921
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"A man finds room in a few square inches of his face for the traits of all his ancestors; for the expression of all his history, and his wants"
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is a picture of my grandmother, Zula Perdue Brown, on her 16th birthday in 1921. The back of the picture has a place for a stamp and is labeled "post card"; it seems this was common then. The suit reminds me of fashions from the movie "Titanic" and the satin hat with a wide brim that appears to be covered with tulle.

Her face is mature for sixteen. Maybe it was growing up fairly poor on a working tobacco farm in central Virginia, or having so many brothers and sisters, or a limited opportunity for education or perhaps it was simply the time in history that forced a girl to grow up quickly; to be responsible for herself.

Grandma had been a handful for her mom as a young girl; to the point that at age twelve she went to live with her own Granny. Her house was just down the lane but it was a good distance for her. Apparently, she sometimes had trouble getting along with her siblings. She was always opinionated and never failed to speak her mind.

Notice that on her left wrist she wears a gold bangle bracelet. She saved her money and worked extra chores to buy a gold band and this bracelet. It has an etched design and a hinge opening. She bought it for her 13th birthday. When I was in college she gave me the bracelet and I still have it. It needs a little repair work on the hinge right now but it is still beautiful. Someday I'll pass it on to Nyssa.

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