Summer brings the same joys in 2013 that it did in 1918. I know that because I have my great-grandfather’s pictures of baseball teams, swimming in Shields Lake, beach excursions and exuberant flower beds.Summer’s end brings the same sorrow in 2013 as it did in 1930. I know that because I also have Harry Stilson’s journal entries where he mourns the return of cold weather and the demise of his dahlia garden.
I thought a little glimpse into summer activities of Richmond in the early 1900s would ease the pain of back to school and the closing of the swimming pool. In the first half of the 20th century, many Richmonders found relief from the steamy days of summer at Moore’s Lake. Located on Route 1 in Chester, it was a popular destination for a day or longer. Harry’s tenants spent the day in 1930, took pictures and gave them to their landlord to develop. Here is a peek at that long ago lazy day of summer…

Moore's Lake, 1930

Moore’s Lake, 1930

Harry Stilson worked long days as a streetcar driver and rarely had time off but when he did, the Stilsons enjoyed Virginia Beach and Newport News. LOTS of pictures but it makes me itch to see them in their wool suits and dress shoes trudging along in the sand. Check it out…

Harris Stilson at Virginia Beach

Harris Stilson at Virginia Beach

Boardwalk, Virginia Beach 1918

Boardwalk, Virginia Beach 1918

Norwegian figurehead, Virginia Beach, 1918

Norwegian figurehead, Virginia Beach, 1918

pocahontas hotel va beach 1918 blog

Virginia Beach, 1918

Virginia Beach, 1918

HHS at Va Beach blog

When Harry was not working, he was taking even more pictures or working in his flower beds. The 1929-1931 movies being restored by VCU Libraries include pictures of gardens of all sorts. Don’t know why he felt compelled to take “moving pictures” of flowers that weren’t moving but he did. Maymont’s gardens were on film as was Harry’s own beds. I have to admit that I am envious of his dahlias, roses, caladium and other blooms.
Grayland garden

Harry's garden, Grayland Avenue (behind Carytown)

Harry’s garden, Grayland Avenue (behind Carytown)

Harry's garden, Grayland Avenue (behind Carytown)

Harry’s garden, Grayland Avenue (behind Carytown)

OK. These pictures will have to hold you until next summer. If it makes you feel any better, I was working most of the summer on my second book, On the West Clay Line, about Jackson Ward, Carver and Newtowne based on the Stilson photos and oral histories of folks raised in that area so I didn’t get to savor the summer as much as it deserved. I’m hoping you had enough fun for the both of us!

two women in bathing suits 1918 blog

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