Thursday, January 8, 2015

Uh Oh! Somebody Forgot to Say Cheese

Previously, I wrote about group pictures - how interesting I find them and how telling they can be. Some new little detail seems to appear every time I look, some hint leading to new otherwise unknown fact, or another story to tell.

This has always been one of my favorites, containing all of the features of the group picture that family history nuts love. Lot's of people all in one place at one time; a place that is now lost to time and the wrecking ball of "progress," missing family members, and more. I will try to be brief, but it will be hard.

This is the Kroll (Sheboygan) branch of the tree. It's mid 1920's (Mom was born is 1921 and she looks younger than 5 here). It's the back porch of the home of Fred and Emma (Kroll) Lorenz. Emma is our Gramma's older sister. The event (gleaned from the back of another picture from that day) is when brother Gustave Kroll was visiting from San Antonio, Texas (a whole other story). The house is now gone, that whole area re-developed  - 5802 14th Avenue in Kenosha, called the "Devil's Elbow (I guess because of an unusual angle in the street at that point.)

Who's missing? Sister Bertha (Kroll), who married Adolph Haubrich (Grampa's brother), and their children, Margaret, Bob, and Betty Jean, are living in Phoenix, AZ at this time. (Another story.) Another tidbit is that Aunt Lilah, sitting in the front row next to Mom, was that last surviving person in this photo, 90 years later.

Another thing I like about this photo and that led to this post in the first place, is this. Notice how unhappy everyone looks! I know it is common in older pictures for people not to smile the way they do today for pictures. But look at it. It's almost like someone forgot to "say cheese!"

Starting at the top is Gramma Haubrich (Emilie) and it looks like she is trying to smile. That's her Dad, Frederich Kroll, who didn't speak much English. I can hear him muttering something like, "Ach du lieber! Nein, ich werde nicht sagen, Käse." Next to him is Great Gramma Kroll. She suffered a stroke and probably can't smile much anymore.

Next row, against the house is Hilda Lorenz and my aunt Norma Haubrich (Carol Henrich's mom.) They are not only cousins, but became lifelong best friends. (Another story.) The rest of the row is Laura (Mrs. Fred) Kroll, Josephine (Josie, Mrs. Gustave Kroll), Fred and Emma Lorenz, and on the end right, their daughter, Elvira. Only Norma and Elvira are giving any hit of maybe wanting to smile.

The three guys sitting in the next row are Gustave Kroll, Fred Kroll and Raymond Kroll (Fred and Laura's only child.) Raymond will die only a few years after this picture is taken, in his twenties. The bookends standing on either end of that row are Henry Lorenz and our aunt, Lucille Haubrich. Once again, no "cheese" with this group.

Finally, that's Grampa Haubrich with Marvin between his legs, them Mom and Lilah. Pa looks uncomfortable, Marvin bored, and Mom and Lilah are looking at something else.

But I love this picture. I wish I could hear what they were saying. I wonder who took the picture?What did they have to eat? I wish the house was still there. And, although someone may have forgotten to say cheese, I bet they had a good time that day.


  1. They all look rather unhappy... Probably because they wanted to get back to the food and games and fun!!

  2. Amy is right - how come no one smiles in old timey pics?