It’s been six years since I tried to identify people or places in my paternal great-grandmother Lottie Taylor Chambers’ photo box. On my last visit, (July 1, 2014), I wrote about a poem that I knew had been written by Lottie’s hand. In many instances these photos and momentos are over 100 years old. Until recently Lottie’s photo box, along with my other photo boxes, had been relocated to my daughter’s house for her review of family memories with my mom when she passed away on March 16, 2018.
Great grandmother passed away on March 29, 1962, after a decade in a hospital due to her crippling rheumatoid arthritis. Upon her death, the hospital returned her photos to my dad. Lottie had stored them in a vintage 1940’s brown tweed striped suitcase. She didn’t have much in her 8′ x 10′ hospital room. Aside from this suitcase of photos and momentos, there was only a couple of small bibles and a pair of eyeglasses that she had worn for all the years I can remember. Following Lottie’s death my parents placed her suitcase and its contents in their attic. Incredibly, over all the seasons of 50+ years in storage in this old suitcase. the photo qualities and inks on paper writings were unharmed by the extreme changes in the attic’s temperature.
Apparently, many of the photos in Lottie’s box were originally glued within an old black soft paper album before being removed and placed in the suitcase. Needless to say, if there ever were any identifiers on the backs of these pictures (which I doubt there were), they would have been destroyed by the glue and paper that still covers much of their reverse sides. And yet today, Lottie’s sacred but unidentified memories remain scattered in one of my photo shoe boxes in which I placed them probably 10 years ago or more.
As I was browsing through the items once again, I found one very old, worn, and torn picture of what looked like a parade. I scanned the image to see just how much detail I could restore. Then, using a magnifying glass on the restored image, I read the banner that hung across a store’s fascia. It read “America’s First Shot – Somerville Sector, October 23, 1917, 6:00 a.m.” This banner was commemorating America’s entry into World War I, “The Great War.” Next, I Googled the quote and discovered this picture was taken on a Wednesday, September 17, 1919. Lottie would have been 29 and married nine years earlier on September 10, 1910 to her husband Frank Maynard Chambers. The parade marched through the Arch of Triumph (just right of where her picture ends), to the viewing stand where Vice President Thomas J. Marshall represented President Woodrow Wilson, and past hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children who came to honor the World War I Victory over Germany. The First Division Parade marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC. General of the Armies, John J. Pershing, on horseback led the parade that included a float carrying the cannon that fired the first shot, a convoy of tractors bearing other wartime artillery used, and 6,000 of “Pershing’s Own” troops.
The following photo resides in the Library of Congress, originally published by Meadville, Pa. ; St. Louis, Mo. : Keystone View Company, Manufacturers and Publishers.