French Morocco 1953

 

Family treasures come to us in all different ways. In this instance, we had been hoping to find a picture of Ray Gibbons from his military years for at least the past 10 years. Recently when going through photographs left to us by my mother-in-law, I found an old photo album, the kind with the fragile black pages. She never mentioned it or pointed out the album in any way. Within were keepsakes of a long gone era.

In 1952, at the age of 20, Ray Gibbons joined the Air Force. He was away from his beloved Marie, and they exchanged photographs and letters. Marie confided to me once that many of the letters Ray wrote her are gone. They were too personal to share and so she destroyed them. I selfishly wanted to have a lens into their early life together, as an historian, but I also understand as a woman with children and family, that some feelings are better savored privately. Of the few letters remaining, they are sentimental and show the deep love they shared.

These are just a small selection of photographs from this old album that Ray kept while in the Air Force. He was in various locations around America and also deployed to French Morocco in Africa in 1953. Based on his photographs, he was curious, observant, and often smiling. Most of the people in his photographs are Air Force buddies, all young, all finding their way I assume. Very few are identified, regrettably. Some photographs will have to undergo restoration due to damage from the old paper. I’m hopeful that one of them may be a photo of Ray and his father Henry, as I have no other photos of Henry and we know very little about him. I presume that other branches of the family have photos of him, but time and distance has estranged the family members and photo sharing.

I hope you find these photographs interesting. I did a little research about French Morocco, which you can find at the end of this post.

Moroccan girl, 1953

Church, French Morocco, 1953

Building on base, 1953

Unidentified Moroccan men, 1953

Unidentified Moroccan men, 1953

Unidentified Moroccan men, 1953

Although Morocco has an ancient history of independent rule, Morocco existed as a French protectorate from 1912 to 1955, when it reestablished itself as an independent country. It was originally a sultanate that was desired by various European governments due to its valuable Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. After turmoil in the sultanate at the turn of the century and a threat by Germany, the French protectorate was established with the support of Britain and Spain, both countries with financial and other interests in Africa. Other countries were not necessarily pleased with the French influence, and there were also several rebellions against French rule over the ensuing 40 years.

Morocco is considered to be an exotic location due to its geographical location as well as historical influences of Mediterranean culture. The well known cities of Marakesh, Tangier, and Casablanca are all Moroccan cities with long histories and their own cachet. Marakesh has been mentioned numerous times in relation to the Indiana Jones movies, and of course Casablanca was the location of the classic namesake 1942 film. More recently, scenes of Game of Thrones were filmed in Morocco. The cuisine is considered to be among the most varied due to the availability of spices, meats, fish, fruits and vegetables, and the flavorful combinations that have come about due to the many international communities within the country. Varying populations have created an exciting local culture that combines West African, Berber, Arab and European traditions. Traditional clothing may be ornately embroidered and colorful, conjuring images of Bedouin tribes and Arabian nights. It is currently an Islamic nation with the attendant rules of Islamic law, which I won’t cover here.

Further Reading About Morocco

French Protectorate via University of Central Arkansas

French Colony to Sovereign State via Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Morocco via Encyclopedia Britannica

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Ray and ?

These two great vintage photos show Ray Gibbons and a younger friend, unknown. At first I didn’t think this was Ray, because my mother in law didn’t point him out. She said she didn’t know who was in the photo. But, comparing the older fellow of the two to the bakery photo in the last post, I realized that it was Ray. He is so young!

The photos were taken…somewhere. Although the buildings in the background have business names on them, when I enlarge them, they are unreadable. There is a clock, and The Something Something. I know that Gibbons Bakery was in Mount Clemens, and it is possible this was taken there as well, as Ray seems to be about the same age as the last picture. The building looks like a school or a bank to me.

I don’t know a thing about cars except to say they are old.

On the single photo, although it looks like the boy is wearing some sort of pin, it’s actually damage to the photo paper. In the photo of the two of them, it looks like the younger boy is holding an apple? a baseball? and someone off camera is handing Ray something. Impossible to know now what it was. They seem to be laughing and having a good time. After school joking around, maybe?

Gibbons Bakery

I think one of these two young men might be my father-in-law, but I’m not 100% sure. (Update, my husband says he is the one on the right!) The picture unfortunately isn’t the best, but it is a treasure all the same. And just look at that monster cake they are decorating! The Gibbons Bakery in Mt. Clemens, MI was opened in the 1920s by Albert Henry Gibbons and his wife Christine Schultz Gibbons. Born in 1891 in England, Henry emigrated to the US in 1913. Henry and Christine married in 1920 and must have opened the bakery around that same time. Sons William (1922) and James (1923) soon arrived, followed by daughter Roseann (1930) and finally son Albert Raymond (1932). By the time Raymond was working in the bakery it was a well established business that has a long legacy in Mt. Clemens. I have another photo I will share soon of Roseann and her kids in front of the bakery. By 1957, Henry and Christine lived in Florida and Bill, Jim and Ray kept the business running. Eventually, all the kids had moved on to various other locations, and by 1988 the bakery was owned by Djurdja “Julie” Bogojevski. Gibbons Bakery was located at 84 Macomb Place near the corner of Pine St for quite a long time, enjoying at least one resurgence in the early 2000s by an entrepreneur who wanted to bring a nice bakery to Mt. Clemens. The building is still there and looks basically the same as it did way back when.

At some point, Ray and my mother-in-law Marie opened the Ray Marie Bakery, also in Mt. Clemens. Marie told me some stories of the early days of their marriage when Ray had to get up at 3 a.m. to be at the bakery and she would get up to make his breakfast, all while suffering morning sickness and the smell of bacon and eggs made her extra queasy! It was in that first apartment that Marie was given the recipe for carrot cake that became one of the recipes at their bakeries. It is a family treasure that I have made for birthdays and special occasions over the years. She shared that her neighbor offered her a slice of cake, but all she could think was “why would anyone make a cake out of carrots?” Fortunately for all of us, she liked it. By 1971 they were working on building The Cake Shop in Whittier, CA. which became another family owned and operated bakery, with Steve, Paul, David & Joe working alongside their parents.

The most recent version of the Gibbons Bakery in Mt. Clemens, MI operated from around 2010 to 2015, at the historic location of 84 Macomb Place. The owner at that time had personal ties to the bakery, having worked for Bogojevski shortly after emigrating to the US.

Here’s a great vintage photo I found showing a firefighter poking his head out of the window of Gibbons Bakery after a fire in the adjacent building. The irony here is that The Cake Shop burned down many years later, fire once again damaging a Gibbons owned bakery.

Here’s more about the “new” Gibbons Bakery:

Gibbons Bakery Facebook Page

Article about the reopening from Oakland Press News

Bruce D McSparrow / McSparrin

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One of these lads is Bruce D. McSparrow McSparrin. Due to some home construction, I have packed these photographs away and I’m not sure which one of these had the writing on the back! Whoops. I also had it carefully labeled on the original file, but my computer is also packed away. Fooey.

Bruce was 7 years old at the time of the photo, September 3, 1897. These two photographs are small, only about 3″ x 4″ with the image centered in the card.

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They were accompanied by their mother, previously shown in this post. As it turns out, this is identified on the back as Mrs. S. M. McSparrow McSparrin.

UPDATE: As it turns out, both of these images are probably of the same boy. Bruce Darlington McSparrin lived with his parents Susan and Charles McSparrin in Dayton, PA. This begs the question of who the other photo represents. It may simply be a photo of Susan McSparrin twenty years on in life.

Christmas Day!

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All grown up

Over the course of 13 cards, we have seen Kathy & Karen Klein grow up from babies to teenagers. Kathy has grown her hair long as was popular in 1969, while Karen is keeping hers cut short. Both girls look to the side. This is our last Klein family card. I have no idea who they might have been sent to, maybe Aunt Rita who was the recipient of a different Klein family member’s card? I hated seeing them languishing in a box of other photographs, so I’m happy to have rescued them from obscurity or even the trash.

This last photo card features a pine cone, the sentiment Merry Christmas / and a happy new year! as well as the family’s names – The Kleins / Fred, Isobel, Kathy & Karen.

Merry Christmas to you, wherever you may be! There are yet more cards, because you know the mail does not always cooperate with us, and sometimes we don’t always get our cards into the mail in a timely fashion. There’s always a couple that arrive after Christmas, so stay tuned!

Christmas Eve

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It’s Christmas Eve around the world! I hope all your Christmas cards have arrived at their destinations to carry the wishes of happiness and love to everyone on your list. Kathy & Karen Klein are opening gifts in a paneled room, surrounded by more gifts. The color printed card is dated 1968 and features a horse drawn sled. It was signed Fred, Isobel, Kathy & Karen, and the signature appears to have been incorporated in the printing.

Merry Christmas Happy New Year

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Full color!

The reverse of this card indicates it was 1965. The girls Kathy & Karen are again in matching pajamas, and looking at a large decoration. It appears to have a small elf on it, and reminds me of a mistletoe ball my mother had. The girls are surrounded by pretty packages. The color printed card also features holly and ribbon ties, and is signed The Kleins / Fred, Isobel, Kathy, Karen.

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