I have always been charmed by photos of adults and small children together. You expect to see pictures of mothers with their babies, but there really doesn't seem to be nearly as many taken of the male relatives gazing with fond eyes at their tiny little kin. But maybe my family was different. Here's a few I have in my albums:
In 1906 James Arthur Ryland became a grandfather for the first time. He owned land near Caldwell Kansas and among other things was a gentleman farmer and stockraiser. In this picture, he is looking at his first grandchild Nevalyn Eugene Ryland, who was always called "Bob" or "Bobby." Grandpa Ryland was my great-grandpa, who died long before I was born. Bob was my Uncle Bob, who I never met except by photograph.
We'll skip to a later generation for the next pix - which actually is of me as an almost 1 year old in 1936. I was the first grandchild born in the next Ryland generation. The Ryland family, represented above by my two teenaged uncles, Bert and Hugh Ryland, had traded Kansas for California in 1930. The depression was still going strong and my mother, Virginia Ryland Dobbins, was surrogate mom to her younger brothers and sisters, which included the two boys above and two sisters not shown, while their mother worked during the day. It was wonderful growing up amidst a whole crop of aunts and uncles. Let me tell you, I was one pampered baby!
The picture above is of my cousin Shirley, who was born in February of 1937. As you can tell, she was a darling little tyke, and what tickled me about this photo is how big her dad, my uncle Sam, seemed. Well, he was big, but I don't remember him that way. Shirley and I grew up in the same town and our Ryland aunts and uncles were close knit and we saw them often. Uncle Sam was married to my Mom's younger sister Marie Ryland. He was a Merchant Marine and as such was gone to sea a great deal of the time. But whenever he came home he always brought wonderful things for my sister and me -- like wooden shoes from Holland and costumes like belly dancers wore from the near east. We had a steady stream of "show and tell" items to share at our school.
In my dad's later life he often got to reminiscing about "the old days" and he told me he had never known a man who was so comfortable around babies as Uncle Sam was. He said Sam could change a diaper better than Aunt Marie could and always carried Shirley around tucked under his arm like a football. My dad was not a hands-on father, as he had not been raised around little children, but Sam had been, and to the end of his life my dad was in awe of Uncle Sam's wonderful talent! I think this photo of my cousin Shirley and her daddy is just about my favorite of all the family photos I have.
Lest I do my father a disservice, I do have him in a couple of pictures holding his kids when they were little. This one above is of him showing off my little sister, who was born in August of 1937. He had wanted to name me, the firstborn daughter, after my mother, but Mother wouldn't give up the name Barbara! So when my sister came Dad insisted that she be named Virginia Louise after my mom. My mother was always called "Ginnie" and my sister was "Ginnie Lou."
I think the picture shows that my dad wasn't actually "afraid" of holding his girls, and his face certainly indicates that he was tickled pink about this one, but I think overall he wasn't as much a hands-on father as he was one who constantly showered his kids with surprises and gifts. I don't remember him so much for hugs and kisses as I do for bags of penny candy, bags of freshly popped popcorn, and later, making pancake dinners for any friends we wanted to have over for dinner.
It's fun to look back through the old photos to see what one can see. And sets a person thinking about those old times, remembering things we haven't thought about in years. And I can't help wondering what it is that down the road my kin are going to remember about me.