The Grahams – A Day In 1931

My grandfather Mershell C Graham was the son of Mary Jackson Graham who we saw scheduled to be auctioned off with her family after the death of slave holder Crawford Motley Jackson in 1860. We move forward 70 years to to see what was happening with the Graham family in 1931,

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“Doris – Mother – Howard – Mary Virginia ’31”

These two photos of my mother, Doris (wearing the dress with scarf) and her family were taken in the backyard of their Detroit home in 1931. Doris was eight, her sister Mary Virginia was eleven. Baby brother Howard was two years old.

Dad – Howard – MV and Doris (Actually Doris and M V)

Maybe they had just come from church, or were on their way. I wonder if my grandfather was pointing to one of the airplanes that were just beginning to become more common.

Mershell was 44. My grandmother Fannie was 42. They kept chickens, had a large garden and several fruit trees. The girls attended Barber Elementary school several blocks away. My grandfather rode the streetcar to work and they took the streetcar to church. They didn’t have a car until 1934.

From my grandfather's little pocket notebook. This was the only entry from 1931. 
"Transferred from HP (Highland Park) plant to Rouge plant Mar. 14, 1930
Went to work in Elect(rical) Stacks
 Mr. J.H. Arthiston foreman"
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) · 24 Jul 1931, Fri · Page 15

Below are some 1931 comments from Howard’s baby book, written by my grandmother.

Saw his first circus – 2 1/2 years old – and what a thrill. July 1931
On Oct 23 1931 – Howard came into bathroom while Dad was trimming my hair.
Where have you been I asked?
Answer …In the children’s room.
Question—What doing?
Answer – “Lecturing on common-sense.”
The above is true – Believe it or not.
Had more sense then any child his age we’ve ever seen.

In my grandmother Fannie’s scrapbook, I found two library cards made by my mother, Doris and her older sister, Mary Virginia in 1931. My mother was 7 and Mary Virginia was 11. There is no book listed on my mother’s card but Mary Virginia names “The Children’s Story Hour” on hers. I wonder what other books they borrowed and lent or if this was a one time happening. I notice that Mary Virginia returned her book on time.

Related Posts

The Graham’s in the 1930s
Mershell Graham’s Notebook – 1930s
Home Library 1931
Births, Deaths,Doctors and Detroit – Part 1- Grandmother Fannie’s notes

16 thoughts on “The Grahams – A Day In 1931

    1. Yes. Amazingly better.
      It must have been a high flying bird. I guess there weren’t too many planes flying around in 1931. Or were there? Going to look.

  1. Nice pictures. And as to the comments from Howard’s baby book – “Out of the mouths of babes.” Too funny. 🙂

    1. Census records and other records are good in their way, but you do need other sources to flesh out the person. I like finding newspaper articles that relate to a story.

  2. Love seeing your family always…and to have dad pointing his finger up just in time for the snapshot…makes you wonder always! I still have trouble remembering who I’ve loaned books to, perhaps some library cards would help!

  3. One of the things I’ve learned from reading about your family and following their photos is to watch out for little clues that can link several photos to a certain day. My folks tried scrapbooks but they were not diligent about adding notes and often the little photos got scrambled and mixed up. Looking for similar clothing, lighting, and background features helps to place photos into an order that can better fix a date or occasion. Your vast family archive must have a Dewey decimal system! :–)

    The report on the circus was astonishing to read. I can’t imagine how they managed traveling with so many animals, much less hundreds of people too.

    1. Another article said the circus traveled in four trains from Toledo to Detroit. Another listed all the food they had to buy to feed all those animals, much less all the people.

      I only wish my family archive were so organized! I can usually find the older photos, separated by family in boxes. Once they get online I may misplace them, although I do have them organized their by family and dates.

      I have to wish all of my photos had been annotated and identified by my family, unfortunately they aren’t always and I too have to use various clues to figure out when and where they were taken.

  4. I love these photos of your mom, her parents and siblings. And how fortunate you are to have those library cards and Howard’s baby book. I have to delve into my mom’s “baby box” to see if I can find anything similar — I know there’s a baby book, but now I’m wondering about other items.

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