Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Tale of a Little Souvenir Book

I have a box of these little "souvenir" booklets that belonged to my mother, Elva Crabtree Harris Rodriguez (1914-1998). Back in the 1930s and 1940s they could be bought by travelers who would then put in their own snapshots commemorating their trip.

This one, "Snapshots, St. John, Canada," contains photos from a trip taken of my mother with friends. She looked to be around twenty, or so, putting the date of the trip sometime in the mid-1930s. I could only guess at details--the purpose of the trip and the names of the people--when I first looked through the photos with my sister.

Then along came a very kind and generous person named Patricia Pickard, who left a short comment on a post on this blog, regarding the Crabtree family photo that appears at the top of the page. That comment led to many messages between my computer in New Mexico and hers, in Bangor, Maine. It turns out that Pat, although unrelated to my mother's family, is an expert on my mother's brother, Reverend Clifford Crabtree. In fact, she has even written a booklet on him--more about that when I receive my copy in the mail. 

Pat: As I was working on Clifford's story, I got the notion that I wanted to find out as much as I could about David's 13 children because I knew very little about them. So, I have set up a notebook with dividers on each of the 13, plus I have begun the notebook with info on David, Edith, and David's siblings that were here in the Bangor area (Dover, Milo, etc.). [David and Edith are the parents of my mother's large family in the header photo].

Pat was a great help in identifying the photos in this little book. 

She was able to figure out that most of the pictures were taken during a church trip to Nova Scotia on July 4, 1937.  How could she be so exact about the date? Because she owned an autograph book that had belonged to Eddie and Billy Washington, who had also gone on the same trip. It contained this message from my mother, written on July 4, 1937!

Pat, a real sleuth, then figured out that the stone lions pictured below were at the Dingle Tower, located in the Sir Sandford Fleming Park in Halifax. Check the park's website to see detailed photos of the lions.

Pat: I just called Billy Washington who was at Dingle Tower the same time that your mother went and visited Halifax. He identified one man in one of the pictures and told me some of the other folks that went to the week's meetings. I will look at the pix a little later and see if I can find any more faces that I would now recognize, knowing who came from Zion Bible Institute in East Providence, Rhode Island at that time. 

It was only when I enlarged this image that I noticed
the three overexposed figures in the background

The two young men in the hats (above) are the brothers, Billy and Eddie Washington.
Billy is now 92 and living in Bangor, Maine. Pat plans to visit with him next spring to talk further about this trip. 

Pat: In the picture at Dingle Tower where I identified  Billy and Eddie Washington, the other man is Leon Elliott. He is also in two pix where your mother is....the ones with a man standing between two women. That, also, is Leon Elliott. He was from Littleton, Maine.

My mother, Elva Crabtree, is on the right in this photo.
As we now know, Beatrice Elliott is on the left; her brother, Leon Elliott, is in the center. 

Pat: The lady in the flowered dress in all four pix is Leon's sister, Beatrice Elliott, also from Littleton.

They attended Zion Bible Institute together.

Leon became a missionary to India, and has written a book, "From Maine to the Himalayas." His wife, Almeda Elliott, has also written a book, "India in my Heart." When I get a chance, I will see if either one of them speak of the Halifax visit. I have the books here.

Beatrice Elliot, left, unknown lady in the middle, Elva on the right

Beatrice, Leon, Elva

Elva Crabtree



We wondered if this and the next few pictures might have been taken on the family farm

But then we decided that the man in the middle isn't my Grandfather, David Jewett Crabtree.
He might be one of David's brothers, though. 

Mother on the right

My mother is center front, in this photo

That is my mother on the right, with her brother, Clifford Crabtree, just behind her. 

My mother is second from left

And that's my mother, joking around at the front
I'm amazed that so much information about these previously mysterious family photos came to me through a series of coincidences and the magic of the Internet. Thank you, Pat, for sharing your knowledge and for being so kind!


  1. What a lot of detail. Pat knows more about us than we do!!!

  2. My grandmother and her sister were the adventurous travelers in our family. As a child, I found them impossibly glamorous as they boarded trains with their matching train cases and luggage. How I would love to have photographs from their trips.

    Congrats on having this little "souvenir book." Great post.

    1. Nancy! "Train cases!" The very phrase gives me a little thrill. My mother took me on a wonderful train adventure across the country to see her family. We had little "train cases," and I still have the children's menus from that trip. You can see them here: http://clairz-remember.blogspot.com/2011/01/train-trip-with-my-mother.html.

  3. Waaa! It says link is bad. I love train cases. I should find one on eBay!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I'm having trouble with Blogger. The correct link keeps bringing me back to today's post. The train trip post was published on Jan. 4, 2011, and is listed in the archives below. That should be a reliable way to get to it. Sorry for the trouble! Crazy Blogger.

  4. From my half-sister, Joan:
    This whole thing is fascinating !!! Imagine what a little question will uncover !!!


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