The History Of Smiling Faces


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I found some film on You Tube of San Francisco Market Street a while back, and even though I’ve never visited there it was thrilling to see life as it was all those years ago.  But finding this version with some sound effects and poetry added, I just thought it was wonderful!  If you’re into these old films, let the video run and you’ll find the following two films in the playlist are related (also Market Street) one in 1906 just before the great earthquake struck, and another in 1941, quite a different look.  And here is one taken just after the earthquake.  Devastating, can’t imagine how it must have been for those poor people caught up in that huge catastrophe.

These old films not only fascinate me, they often make me cry.  It’s weird, it happens every time!  I’ve always been interested in old photographs and film even when I was a child, but since my parents died I’ve been more aware of how short life is.  I remember the moment my mother died I thought “Is that it?”  Crazy thought I know, of course that was it!  But it seemed like her whole life was lived with little or no acknowledgement of what a wonderful woman she was, and everything she had endured or overcome in her life.

When I see the remaining evidence of these long departed souls, they could be my mother, my father, my grandmother.  I wonder – how they thought, how they lived their life, what was the quality of their life like, were they just like we are today, and did anyone truly acknowledge their existence before they left this earth?   A few seconds of fame on one of these early films I’m sure for many was the only evidence of their life lived – that doesn’t seem very much!

On a much happier note, I did an image search recently for a Tumblr post on people smiling in old photographs.  It’s rare to see relaxed happy faces in old photos, but it does exist.  I was surprised to even find one of Queen Victoria.  Enjoy the smiles! 😀

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What a difference it makes to see her smiling!

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Sitting on his knee, very relaxed. 😉

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Those shorts and t-shirts, not much different to today!

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Women smoking – shocking behaviour!!

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Probably the best laugh I’ve seen!

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A woman with a great sense of humour!

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Not much smiling here.  But notice the woman at the back on the left, it’s actually a man.  No wonder the hatless woman in the middle has a telling smirk – he’s wearing her hat.  I love it!! 😀

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20 thoughts on “The History Of Smiling Faces

  1. I love The History Of Smiling Faces!!! It promotes so much happiness!!! The man with the hat on his head is so funny!! He’s such a comedian. Thanks for giving us a look at those beautiful smiling faces!! 😄

    1. I did a smaller post on some of these faces on my main Tumblr blog, and it was well liked, so I found some more and I couldn’t not share them here, they are so good to see – a surprising happy history!! 😀 I love the man with the hat on too, he was being very cheeky! I wonder if the two women in the front of the picture sitting down ever knew about that little joke? 😉 They look terribly serious, and yet right behind them there’s a major joke going on!! 😀

      1. Lol, Thats True!!! I wonder would they have appreciated the joke!! Because it was funny!! Lol They did look serious, didn’t they? Lol You are Super Woman Ms Suzy!!! I’ll get caught up on social media one day here very soon!!! 😄

  2. thanks for the smile Suzy. I especially love those 3 people on the split rail fence! i would have loved to have seen them climb up it. That would have been so funny. On a more serious note, I totally agree with what you said about your mom. I felt the same way about mine. A lot was said at her funeral that made all of us realize how special she really was. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m still trying to process mine.

    1. I don’t know what they’re doing on that fence, but they do look like they’re having some hilarious fun. I would have liked to have been there to see what they did in the end – did they all fall off backwards?!!! 😀

      I know what you mean about what is said at funerals, yes there were so many people who had some very heartfelt and genuine things to say about my mother, I’m sure that happens to so many people. I remember a friend and family neighbour of mine who knew both my parents really well, said “Your mum was a real woman, not selfish or flirty, or fake in any way, but a real honest kind woman, all what a woman should be” That was the nicest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say about her, and I’m sure it would have done her a lot of good to hear that, but we often don’t think to tell people these things while they’re still alive. I’m trying to get a better practice of making the effort to tell people the good attributes that they have, because it is important, and so terribly neglected.

      I know you’ve probably heard this before, but time really does make a difference to missing someone. It’s amazing how our brains really don’t like change especially as drastic as losing someone who has always been there. It just doesn’t feel natural. I still have my tearful moments sometimes. I’ve had a lot recently, which have been a little mysterious, as my mother died 12 years ago and my father 7 years ago, but the memories of childhood can come back quite strong sometimes – unexpectedly. But in general it does feel more natural that life goes on without them, and it doesn’t hurt now. I really hope you find a more comfortable place very soon Linda, and thank you for your thoughtful comment. 🙂

  3. Fun pictures to look through! I always enjoy looking at old photographs and film. Maybe it’s because of the sentiment you just described. Great post 🙂

    1. Thank you! Yes, I can’t ever imagine not being being fascinated by old pictures and film. If you go searching for it the internet is awash with as many as you want to find. People have Pinterest boards dedicated to old pictures and film. I should start one myself! 🙂

  4. Amazing nostalgic film footage. Seeing the freedom of the cars, pedestrians and horses to cross the cable car tracks, it’s fascinating. Yes, who remembers these people. Life is fleeting.

    1. It is amazing the freedom they had at crossing those cable tracks, pretty much driving any way they wished. Must have been really dangerous though especially for pedestrian trying to cross those wide roads. I went to Spain in the 90’s and I can remember their traffic system was a bit chaotic. Some areas in India are still like that today. Here’s a good example – looks very similar driving behaviour to Market Street!

  5. When you see pictures or movies of those who lived in the past, I can understand you could not help imagining how people lived their lives, were they significant in some way to some ones. It is a bit of shocking and it is a bit of sadness isn’t it.

    I am glad you put those happy faces at the end. They bring you back to “this” moment. I am surprised you have comment about shocking behavior of women smoking (not that I say is a good behavior). The picture expresses the “freedom” to me for some reason 🙂

    1. Ah, the comment about shocking behaviour – I should probably say a little more there as to why I said that. It was because women smoking in those days was not seen as ladylike behaviour. It was largely men who smoked (pipes and cigarettes). They had special smoking rooms in the homes of the rich or large hotels for men to retire to after dinner and smoke themselves to a slow death!! 😀 It’s probably a good thing that women and children were not invited, can’t have been healthy! They even wore a special smoking hat and coat, I guess to absorb the smell of the tobacco. There were women who smoked in those days (even pipes) but they would have been largely working class women.

      I remember my dad saying that even in the 1930’s right up to the 60’s it was still seen by some as very common and degrading for a woman to smoke especially in public. A lot of prostitutes smoked in the street as a way of making it clear who they were. Some time in the 50’s and 60’s it gradually became seen as sophisticated for a woman to smoke. I think that image was largely created by movies. So those girls in the picture were having a bit of fun there, mimicking something that obviously shouldn’t have been shameful for a woman – exercising their freedom! Of course today it’s shameful for a whole different reason. Strange how morals about any small thing can change so much! 🙂

  6. I love these photos Suzy. They are so human and tell us that however stiff and starchy those times sermed or were in fact so, people wanted and will always want fun and laughter in their lives. It is indeed rare to capture smiles on old phots; these are gems. xx

    1. Yes it’s a great pity so many pictures years ago everyone looked so straight laced – but obviously not everyone! Gems is a great way to describe these, and if I had some pictures like this of my ancestors, I’d definitely have them on display. I think they’d make a very good talking point! 🙂

  7. I really like these photos, Suzy (and the ones you also provided as a link when you commented on my “Uncle August” poem.) I especially get a kick out of the ladies lying in beach sand fully clothed, with long skirts and sleeves and the ones of clowning around…..I used to think it was sad for people to die without “recognition”, but I’m convinced it is only we the living who fret about such things. If they loved and were loved while they were alive..it’s that thought which is comforting. A lot of these photos suggest it was so….

    1. Yes some of these were the ones I gave you a link to. I did a bit more of a search while putting this post together, and found a whole load more. I do like those ladies on the sand too – they look so relaxed! I wonder how much sand they went home with in their dresses and boots?! 😀

      You’re probably right Cynthia, whatever we believe happens after we die, and whatever actually occurs afterwards, I’m sure sadness is not involved at all. Sadness is one of those annoying human conditions that’s difficult to shake off! And I do remember my dad specifically saying when I was a little girl “Don’t be sad when I die, I don’t want anyone to be sad, just be happy with the memories.” I try! 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion (very wise) I shall remember that next time I find myself feeling too emotional about these films, and maybe over time I’ll stop reacting in that way.

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