Monday, July 12, 2010

Bathing Beauties and Bathhouses for the Poor.

My Aunt Alice, circa 20's, Old Orchard Beach most likely. Aunt Alice must have seen a number of motion picture shows. Why? Because in her photos, she is posing like Lilian Gish, etc. My Aunt Flo, her younger sister, always posed like a 40's movie star. (She looked like Barbara Stanwyck.)

I have once again ressurrected a photo from the dead. This time, I imported the negative scan directly to Corel, with my husband's help.

I figured out how to develop negatives on the scanner, leaving the top open. Natural light works best, but Iused my SAD lamp here, as there is no direct sunlight in my living room.

Anyway, this picture is interesting in that I am taking this Heritage Studies course online to help me with research on Tighsolas, ( my social studies website, which I am turning into a book called Flo in the City, about a girl coming of age in the pivotal 1908-1913 era.

This project is based on letters belonging to my husband's ancestors in Montreal, but somehow I managed to stick my own ancestors in as "characters" in the book, the Crepeaus. I have my husband's great Aunt Edith working as a tutor in 1909 for my Aunt Alice. (Edith was in the city, but I have no idea what she was doing there.)

Anyway, my grandfather worked for the City of Montreal. In 1910 he was in the Greffier's Office, but in the 20's when this picture was taken, he was the city's highest ranking civil servant, Director of Services.

Yesterday, I looked up a Heritage Venue, a museum on Ontario Street, near the Sherbrooke Metro, that is dedicated to the industrial class. It is located in an Art Deco building that was a public bath. In the early part of the 20th century, poor people had no place to wash up, so baths were made available to them. The blurb on this site says this started in the 20's. Nonsense. This started in the 1880's.

I have found adverts in the Gazette archives for public baths, (women's day, Wednesday)..including one on Craig which also was in my husband's family and eventually became a company called Laurentian Spring water.

The museum, called the Eco Musee de Fier Monde, is housed in a beautiful space, no question, so I will visit, both for my own research for Flo in the City, and for my Heritage Course. And I'll be sure to ask them why they say public baths were started up in the 20's. (I have seen at least one old building that once housed a public bath with giant 1910's written on the door. Park Avenue, or Avenue du Parc as it is now called.)

Now, the blurb also says the bath was opened in 1927, in the presence of Mayor Mederick Martin. Well, I have no doubt my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, Director of Public Works was there and had a huge part in the building of this facility. Probably a much bigger role than Martin.

The museum's website is located here.

Now, as I have written, I have just finished reading The Perfect Summer, about England in 1910, and Juliet Nicolson, the author, talks about how the middle class streamed to the sea shore in summer. Well, the Crepeaus were no different. Old Orchard Beach was where they went, with other French Canadians. For an entire month. They left the day after St. Jean the Baptiste, June 24, after they had a huge Open House for friends. My page has pictures of 1929 parade from their home on Sherbrooke. And a picture of Mederic Martin.