Helbling Family (Click for Family Tree)
July 4th, 1916, probably dawned hot and muggy in St. Louis, Missouri. Of course, with the amazing internet we could probably check the temperature and any rainfall that day, but why? It is hot and muggy all summer in St. Louis. Always.
I ramble, of course, hence the most appropriate blog name.
The Helbling family celebrated Independence Day like so many Americans then and now, with a picnic in the park. And we are very lucky that they documented it with a camera and scrapbook- plus a caption!
The above gentlemen playing cards in the shade most probably include Gerard William “G.W.” Helbling on the right in front. We are not sure who the other folks are- Friends? Associates? Neighbors? (None of these folks are listed near the Helblings in the 1910 or 1920 census, so likely not near neighbors.) They do all have good German names as a connection.
(NOTE: None of these images have specific captions in the photo album, other than the above date and family names. Thus all the identifications in this post are educated guesses from looking at a lot of family pictures and comparing dates. If you happen to know anything different, dear reader, please let us know. )
The lovely ladies of the group, plus one gentleman, posed looking a bit more demure than the card-players:
It is most likely that the woman on the right is Anna May Beerbower Helbling.
The location, while we are not sure about it being St. Louis, is probably correct because:
a) That is where the Helblings lived (3932 St. Louis Ave in 1910, 5168 Page in 1920), and
b) This lovely picnic-goer:
Shown on the same scrapbook page, this vegetarian is generally not found throughout the midwest. S/he was probably a guest of the St. Louis Zoo, which is a part of the beautiful Forest Park. The Helblings lived nearby and we have quite a few pictures that were taken in the park.
Apparently there were nine children amongst the four families, and they probably were full of energy and fun throughout the day, though the little ones probably did get hot and tired. While they were still going, they played Ring Around the Rosie, holding hands and circling to a nursery rhyme known around Europe and the US, but first printed in 1881:
Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
We all fall down.
And down they would all go onto the ground, their pretty clothes full of grass stains and dirt by the end of the day, but they would have had fun in that simpler time. We won’t talk about how the boys usually yanked the others or girls too would take younger siblings down in a fairly rough way- that was just being a kid back then. Toughen up, the fathers would have said. The moms would have hugged the little ones crying, admonished the older to take care of their younger siblings, and sent them back to play to toughen up. Different times.
One of the two older boys was probably Edgar Helbling, then almost 8- he looks like the boy on the right, but other pictures indicate who I think of as Edgar as being the second tallest in the group, so not sure on this ID. Edgar’s 5 year old sister May is on the right, and she was holding on to their little sister Viola, who would have been 3. They both had the big bows so popular then, as did some of the other girls.
Somehow they did manage to corral the kids to take a couple of posed photos:
Very likely Edgar Helbling in back on right, and (Anna) May Helbling on right in front, her sister Viola Helbling on front, second from left.
In this picture, the tallest boy looks like Edgar, so maybe he is the one holding his sister’s hand in the Ring Around the Rosie picture. Little Vi is the cute one on the right, and her sister May the second to her left. It is hard to tell with these grainy, sometimes out-of-focus pictures, but still, it is a delight to be able to time-travel back to a happy holiday with our ancestors!
Notes, Sources, and References:
1) Helbling family photo album.
2) Folklorists now say the rhyme “Ring Around the Rosie” did not originate during the plague years, just FYI.
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