Monday, February 7, 2011

Love In A Time of Roosevelt...



With Valentines Day just seven days away I thought I would orient my posts this week around the topic of love and romance...and to kick things off I would like to start with the story of my great-grandparents Esther Louise Brown (1891-1956) and Matthew Campbell Govan Jr. (1890-1958).

My great-grandparents were a couple of kids born on the South Side of Chicago in the 1890s to Scottish immigrants.  As the story goes they met at the South Side Seventh-day Adventist Church, spying each other across the aisle and peering over their hymnals.  Apparently it was love at first sight.



Unfortunately for me I never had the chance to meet them or see them interact with one another but I grew up on a steady dose of my grandmother's (their daughter's) stories about how he was smitten from the moment he saw her and recently as I have been cleaning out my attic I have discovered an old drawer full of beautiful photos of them that I think require little help from me to create a picture essay of their life.

So without further ado...I give you Matthew and Louise...



This is how Esther and Matthew would have looked around the time that they first met.  Esther was known for her long wheat colored hair and blue eyes and Matthew for his pale skin and jet black hair and eyes.  Matthew and Esther were so taken with one another that Matthew, an amateur photographer insisted on photographing her at every possible opportunity and Esther wore a locket (seen in the picture below) around her neck that contained this image...


After they both finished high school in Chicago Matthew went off to Emmanuel Missionary College in Berrien Springs, Michigan (which my SDA friends out there will now know as Andrews University) to train as a printer...

Here he is at college at EMC.

Here he is at his printing press.

When he came back they were married on September 2, 1911 and moved into a house on 5731 South Grove Avenue and Matthew continued his love affair with taking Esther's picture.

If you blow this image up you can see that Esther
is standing in front of  the house at 5731 Grove Ave
 and wearing that locket she kept so close to her heart.

Apparently, he really really liked to photograph her...

There's that locket again.

Why don't we still wear hats like this?

Or dress like sailors?

Notice the locket once more...








Here are some other shots of the happy couple together enjoying a pure uncomplicated love that the cynical 21st century me can't help but think was something that could only be found in a simpler time and place...

Apparently Great-Grandpa Matthew mugged
 a Zoot Suiter for this outfit.


And apparently around 1912 they really got into the Bull Moose Party and decided to
stump for Teddy Roosevelt...

I think I will stop here for today and pick up the love story of Matthew Campbell Govan and Esther Louise Brown tomorrow and we can continue tracing the arc of their nearly 60 year love story.  The question I will end with tonight is...does simple, pure, mutual adoration like this still exist in our hectic, text dependent, post-modern world?

5 comments:

Donald said...

Whitny, You are so fortunate to have such wonderful photos of your G'Grandparents. Thanks for sharing. Family memories are so important. I assume that these are Dorothy's folks...

peshagh said...

Whitny - any idea where the locket is today?

Whitny said...

Mr. Larson...I just am tickled to death to have these photos. Being a history buff I feel like I am the curator of my own little museum of American history. Yes, these photos are from my Grandma Dorothy's parent's collection. I actually have more on my Grandpa Ernie's side. I will be posting those tomorrow.

Whitny said...

Oh and Patricia...my aunt, my Dad's sister has the locket and I actually want her to let me borrow it when I get married as my "something borrowed".

Erin said...

I dare say there be a touch of Whitny in these here photos