Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dislikes and Likes....Sepia Saturday 169

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. Click here to learn more.


I tend to be impulsive. I instantly disliked this photo, or should I say, there is nothing I like about it. Such a false series of poses by the people. The cherry trees would be lovely in colour but mean nothing in B&W. The Washington monument is spectacular in real life, but just another obelisk here. What artist, other than tipsy friends of Donna Berta di Bernardo, ever set his easel on a slope when painting the vertical?

I found interest only in discovering what was the building on the far right horizon.

If the title "Photographers shooting Cherry blossoms, Washington, D.C. 4/7/22" is correct at April 7, 1922, then I can say that the building was the annex #3 of the former Bureau of Engraving and Printing. They had moved out of this building opened in 1880, moving in 1914 to a much larger new limestone neoclassical building just to the south of the original complex, which would be just off tho the right of this photo.

I am not sure what the building was used for in 1922, but now  it is the cafeteria of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The 1890 building.

The 1890 building with Annex #3 built in 1905 on the right.

The Bureau moved to the new building in 1914 (right)
(Courtesy of Library of Congress)

The new building from 1914, as seen from near the
Washington Monument.

The 1905 Annexe #3, now part of the United States Holocaust
 Memorial Museum.


In 1969, the year I left school, I spent 2 months in the USA with a "99 days for US$99" Greyhound unlimited mileage pass, and I did go everywhere. I stayed in Washington DC a few days and my tour round the Bureau of Printing and Engraving was absolutely the highlight of my stay in the District. I was, in those days, a fanatical philatelist and to see such security printing first hand was more than exciting for me.

From 1893, until this issue in 1943, the Bureau printed all US postage stamps.
 In 2005 the Bureau finally ceased as a stamp printer.

I was trying to remember more of my visit. I know the first MacDonald's I ever had was just by the Washington Greyhound bus station, I had not the faintest idea of how or what to order, but I did think "this idea could certainly catch on in the UK".......... but  sadly I failed to follow up and take on the UK franchise.

 I slept well when I was visiting. When I was tired in the evening I went to the bus station, checked the timetable carefully, and took a bus to somewhere, anywhere, arriving about 3 am. Then I simply got off and took a bus back to the city fresh for breakfast.

Greyhound bus station Washington DC (completed 1940).
It looked considerably more seedy when I was there in 1969.
(Courtesy Flickr)

Seedy no longer, and how wonderful they saved this great art moderne
(Courtesy Google Street View)

A 1969 MCI Greyhound MC-7. My regular hotel for 2 months.

Favourite Photo Likes

From my collection of ancestral photos, this is one I treasure more than any other:

Willian Neville Barnes 1889-1908
(Own collection)

Poor little Neville Barnes was my great uncle. He died in 1908 aged 18, and by then was living at Earlswood Asylum, many miles away from his family home in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. He was looked after by the family until aged 13 or so, and then went to Earlswood. Convention of how families looked after disabled children then was very different. In fact his sister, my maternal grandmother, never mentioned his disability to my mother. It was always just said one of the children, of which Neville was the youngest of 7, "died young", that is all. It was left to my Mum to discover the truth, as an adult, by looking through old photos. Even my Mum never knew he had been sent away at age 13, that was left to my research.

Earlswood Asylum, or as it was originally known, The Royal Earlswood Asylum for Idiots, commenced in 1848.

John Langdon-Down (after whom Down condition was named) was medical superintendent of the hospital from 1855 to 1868.

It is my saddest and most favoured early cabinet card. It tortures me to try to imagine how the family made their difficult decisions, and how they coped with what was socially normal and correct, and in a child's best interest, in 1903.

Royal Earlswood Hospital c.1854


  1. At least they thought enough of William Neville to take him to the studio for a portrait, which I think was in itself pretty unusual in those days.

  2. I enjoyed this tour through Washington DC. Usually I've been busy looking UP at the Washington monument and never paid attention to nearby buildings.

    I agree with Brett - it's a credit to the family that they had a portrait done of William. While treatment and support for Down children have improved as have attitudes, it is sad that some people remain in the dark ages. My cousin's in-laws severed all ties with the family when her baby was born with Down's Syndrome. When Mrs. H turned her back on her grandson, she gave up a relationship with a boy packed with personality and a beautiful and talented "normal" granddaughter. I appreciate your posting William's picture.

  3. William's card must be a treasured item in your collection - so good to see it. I would have enjoyed going round the Bureau of Printing and Engraving too. Interesting to see the development of the buildings.

  4. He looks well tended before he was sent away. It wasn't at all unusual for boys and girls to leave home at 12 or 13 in Victorian times

  5. Obviously they cared about William, and we shouldn't judge, because they were driven by the mores of the time. As you say there must have been much anguish.

  6. Yes, what a treasure this photo is. It tells so many stories of hope and anguish. Thanks for this wonderful post.

    Loved the tour of Washington. That bus station is such a classic. Too bad it's gone.

    What did you finally order for your first trip to McDonald's?

    1. Well....I cannot remember for sure but guess it was a simple burger and chips, the cheapest option, and no drink (I am still quite slim) I do remember that the bread roll was soft, (as they are supposed to be). We like a crusty roll in the UK !!

  7. Superb that the bus station survived, I'd have liked to see it painted in the original egg shell colour. It must have been a terrible decision to send you great uncle away, poignant story behind the photograph. I've only got a few of the "oppressed nations" stamps so nice to see them all together.

  8. A great two for one post, Nigel. Years ago, I did a similar trip to Britain, touring the big cities with a summer rail pass. They had these amazing places called "pubs". I hadn't any idea how to order, so I just pointed. I felt sure they could be a hit in America.

    The photo of your great uncle is a special treasure. I was reminded of the movie, "The Lost Prince", on the short life of Prince John, King George V's son. It was indeed a different time.

  9. Likes - your post. Dislikes - None at all.
    I do love it when someone picks a thread from the archive image - and the more marginal the thread the better I like it - and then follows it to its logical or illogical conclusion. It always makes for a fascinating post.

  10. I'm thinking Neville is looking upon us all with a great smile, for being remembered. I enjoyed your dislikes about the first photo and bravo for saying how you feel. They do look a bit staged, but back in that day you could see really great shots of things or very often, not so nice, but still it's enjoying to see how it was. I like how you centered on the building most lost in the photo, and brought to life it's importance. Bravo!

  11. I think it's fantastic that William's portrait was taken. What a treasure.
    You sure went off on a tangent in this one:) I never even noticed that building on the right!

  12. Love your story of using the buses as hotels. I sort of did this back in the early 1980's on trains around Europe, catching an overnight train from Paris Gare de Lyon to somewhere 6 to 8 hours away, just so we could get a half-decent night's sleep.

  13. I love the first photo of the bus station, it has such a retro/Art Deco look to it.

    I too think it was wonderful and unusual that William's photo was taken. I hope he got good care when he was sent away. I have written about my husband's great, grand-aunts who were institutionalized in the horrible New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum in Trenton for many years in the late 1890's and early 1900's. Unfortunately they did not receive good care. If you are interested see here: