Monday, March 16, 2009

A glimpse of Eleanor Watson

The photos that appear in the slideshows below, Randolph, NH 1911-1913 and Tramping in the White Mountains circa 1910-1914, were taken by my grandmother Eleanor Foss Watson. Eleanor was born in Portland, Maine on December 12, 1887. She was an avid photographer throughout her life, not so much for the art of photography but for the fact that she loved history and wanted to capture all the activities of the period in which she lived.

I have scanned well over 400 photographs that she took during the period 1910 through 1914 of Randolph, Berlin, Gorham, and Shelburne, New Hampshire. Over time, I plan to add more of these photos with accompanying background information.

Another activity she pursued throughout her lifetime was keeping a daily diary. In her 1909 diary, she chronicles a trip to Washington, D.C. In an excerpt she states, "Went all over the Capital. Saw Vice Pres. Speaker Joe Cannon, Asher Hinds and Amos Allen. In afternoon, went to White House and had to wait an hour in East Room to shake hands with President Taft." Ellie, as her friends called her, is seen in the photo below with her Gorham Normal School classmates on that trip to Washington, D.C. (1909).

As my grandmother's diaries and my memories bear out, she was the quintessential Yankee character: self reliant, level headed, and thrifty. She made use of everything that was available to her within propriety. As a child growing up, I spent one week out of every summer with her, and one memory that comes to mind is of the times we went out to lunch. Everything that wasn't eaten or used in the course of our meal was carefully placed in her pocketbook to be reused at another time, right down to the paper napkins and single serving sizes of pre-packaged salt.

From 1911 to 1912, Eleanor taught school in a one room schoolhouse in Randolph, NH at the foot of the Northern Presidentials. A picture of her students can be seen in the Randolph slideshow photo, standing in front of the schoolhouse in winter. It was during this period when she met Arthur Watson, the son of Laban and Anna Watson, who were the proprietors of the Ravine House in Randolph, NH from 1877 to 1909.

Arthur and Eleanor were married in Portland, Maine on September 27, 1913. They bought a home in the town of Berlin, NH (adjacent to Randolph, NH) on Third Ave, where they lived for the next 23 years. My grandfather Arthur Watson graduated from Gould Academy, Bethel, Maine. After Eleanor and Arthur were married he went to work for the Y.M.C.A. in Berlin, NH.

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