Hi! This is Saturday’s blog from 2/16, with the answers added after each round of questions. ENJOY!

To help distract us from the “February frazzles,” I thought a photo quiz might be fun.

(c) Mariann S. Regan

Here are three of my uncles. They are brothers. From left to right they are William Coit Kirven, McDonald Fraser “Donnie” Kirven, and Joseph Marion Kirven. The photo was taken about 1910 in is Sumter, South Carolina.

  1. Can you identify the kind of outfit each of the two younger boys is wearing?
  2. Why do these two have bows in their hair?
  3. What object are they both holding?
  4.  Look at the three expressions. Which boy do you think grew up to be Chief of Police in Sumter?
Question 1: I considered “Little Lord Fauntleroy,” which was a running joke in my family, but those images typically showed a white and lacy collar. I looked up “sailor suits,” prompted by Coit’s clothes, but most images didn’t quite fit, especially for Marion’s collar. Yet among the images I also found turn-of-the-century Victorian clothing for boys, with dark collars that were not always flared like a sailor’s. The search engine delivered to me the following image among others from a “sailor suit” search — a vintage photo of a Victorian boy, descending the stairs, whip in hand, with a collar somewhere between Coit’s and Marion’s collar styles. The person who answered “sailor suit” in the comments, though, is essentially right. So Kudos to Mary–who probably noticed that both boys’ ties are also sailor-style.
Question 2: My best guess: They both have bows because they both still have curls. Bows accompany curls — though dark bows, to match the suits. They haven’t gotten their “boy” haircuts yet. This custom still lingers in some families, where the first trip to the barber’s is a rite of initiation into boyhood. The toddler curls are left on the floor of the barbershop.
Question 3:  This one stumps me. I can’t see what is within the circle of white ribbon, and even if I could, would I know what it was? Maybe Maureen Taylor’s book will tell me. Thanks for the suggestion, Cheri!
Question 4:  In my opinion, Coit wears the most unflappable expression. But one person guessed “Donnie,” which also makes sense–good guess, Nigel. (In my own larger version of the photo, Donnie’s expression does look a good bit softer.) Coit became Chief of Police in Sumter, soon after his daring solo exploit at the Claremont Hotel in 1934, when he alone foiled two escaping robbers in the middle of the night. There was a shoot-out, two against one. Coit killed one robber, and suffered in return only a hole in his hat. The whole story is in my book. Here is what Coit looked like then:

From The Item, September 20, 2009

Now, the next photo:

(c) Mariann S. Regan

Here is one of the three boys, years earlier.

  1. Which one is he?
  2. Why is he dressed like a girl?
Question 1: This is Marion. Just look at his eyes, here and in the first photo. I thought this would be the easiest question, but no one guessed it.
Question 2: Infants of both sexes–this is 100 years ago–were often dressed for photos in long, sometimes lacy clothing. I don’t always see a bow on boys, even in those photos. But this face just calls for a bow. A girl-boy face, I suppose, and that’s why i used it on the cover of my book as an icon of “The Baby” who always needs saving.
(c) Mariann S. Regan

Here are two of the three boys, years after the 1910 photograph.

  1. Which two are they?
  2. Why is one sitting and the other standing?
Question 1: This is Coit and Marion. Again, look at Marion’s eyes. Notice the “turn of the century” long socks, as in the picture above of the Victorian boy. One person commenting thought it might be a “memorial photo,” and I can see that Marion does look somewhat “stiff.” As the youngest boy, he was usually on guard. In adulthood, though, he developed an irresistible sense of humor that endeared him to everyone.
Question 2: Marion was unusually short, as a man. One (fairly tall) relative tells me, “You could stick a broom handle straight out from your shoulder, and Marion would walk right under it. He was hilarious.” In my opinion, Coit is sitting down to hide his relative height–the photographer doesn’t want him to tower over Marion.

Thanks for playing, everyone!