With Aunt Rita Laurence after the 1950 Census

Sepia Saturday 651. Thirteenth in a series of family history stories related to the 1950 U.S. census.

One of the people living in my family’s Gloverville, N.Y., household during the 1950 US census was my mom’s younger sister Rita Mary Laurence.

Born in 1929, Aunt Rita was three years younger than my mom — Peg (Laurence) Charboneau — and was regularly connected to our family until she moved to California in the early 1960s.

As discussed in a previous post, Aunt Rita, 21, was listed as “OT” for other in the occupation column of the 1950 census. The reason? She was attending college to become a blood bank technician.

I don’t have photos of her from that year. But in 1952 Aunt Rita joined Mom, Dad and me on a trip to Boston, Mass., and my avid-photographer dad snapped a few shots. Luckily one of them is a great match for this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt of a formidable woman standing on her own.

Aunt Rita Mary Laurence, 23, on the beach in Boston (1952). Newly graduated from college, she was ready to launch here career as a blood bank technician. Photo by Norman J. Charboneau

The Boston vacation trip

Cape Cod has long been a family vacation destination. My maternal grandparents Liz (Stoutner) and Tony Laurence used to take Mom and Aunt Rita there. Later my parents took our family there when the GE plant where my dad worked shut down for two weeks every summer.

But I’m not sure how my mom, dad, Aunt Rita and I ended up at the beach in Boston in 1952 — in fact I only know the location because my dad told me once when we were going through these photos. Whatever the reason, it appears to have been a fun trip for all involved.

Aunt Rita and my mom, Peg (Laurence) Charboneau on Boston beach trip (1952). I’m not sure if this is a ship or a restaurant designed to look like one. Photo by Norman J. Charboneau

Mystery on-deck photo

One photo from the trip (above) is a bit of a mystery. My mom and Aunt Rita appear to be onboard a ship — perhaps the ferry to Provincetown, which runs regularly out of Boston.

They are wearing coats and scarves, and there are no other tourists, so it may have been a spring or fall trip. Was the ship docked in port? Or was this a restaurant designed to look like a ship? Or perhaps a dry-docked ship turned into a restaurant? My dad was in the Navy, so I’m inclined to think it’s a ship, where he posed my mom and her sister for the photo.

I found one photo (below) of a Provincetown ferry — the S.S. Governor Cobb that ran from 1937-1945 — which looks like it might be the ship they are standing on, or similar to it. Could it have been put in dry dock for tourists to flock over after it’s useful life was done?

The S.S. Governor Cobb, a Provincetown ferry that operated from 1937-1945. Could this be the ship, or one like it, where Aunt Rita and Mom posed for a photo in 1952? Photo: Bay State Cruise Company

Off to the beach

Clearly, it was too cool on my family’s 1952 Boston trip for anyone to go into the water…or was it? Apparently not for me!

“You loved the ocean,” Dad told me when we found this photo.

While the adults — and apparently every other tourist to in Boston at the time — stayed off the beach and away from the water, I was game to go in at age 2!

That’s me, at age 2, wading in the cold Atlantic ocean (1952). Clearly, it was too cool on my family’s 1952 Boston trip for anyone to go into the water…or was it? Apparently not for me. And how about that wavy refection! Photo by Norman J. Charboneau (who must have waded in himself to get this shot).

Luckily, my parents were sensible enough to put a plaid flannel shirt over my bathing suit. So there I am having a great time wading in the water. And is that a beach pail back there on the sand? I’m guessing some sand-castle-building and shell-collecting went on as well.

Altogether, these photos capture my young, post-war extended family heading into the future. My mom, dad and Aunt Rita were all college graduates — the first in their families and an inspiration for me and my siblings.

Mom and Aunt Rita were also headed for careers, unlike previous generations of my women ancestors — opening new doors for girls like me to walk through. So I am delighted to have these photos of my family on the cusp of these social changes.

New post next week. Please stop back. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

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12 thoughts on “With Aunt Rita Laurence after the 1950 Census”

  1. Ah, the 2-week shut down! My mother, who was our family breadwinner, used to work in factories in the Cleveland area suburbs, and we too had that shut down. That was also our time for heading out to all the local attractions around town. My mom did the “staycation” before it was a thing.

    Also love the info on being the pioneers into higher education. I am the oldest female college graduate of my family, but not the last!

    Nice work!

    1. Thanks, Nancy. Nice to have a fellow veteran of the two-week shutdown on board 🙂 And yes, college was a big breakthrough for my parents’ generation — a path they encouraged for their children. Happy Holidays and New Year and hopefully see you here or on your blog in 2023.

  2. Love all the photos! Mysteries are certainly fun to try and solve! Why did the plant close every summer for 2 weeks? Fun that it did though, so you could have those family vacations! 🙂

    1. Yes, the boat/restaurant is a fun mystery. Either way, a great location for a photo. The summer shutdowns were routine in manufacturing in the U.S. back then. Assembly lines could only run if fully staffed, so rather than have people take vacation whenever, they just shut the plant and gave everyone vacation at the same time — which was fun because sometimes other GE families would also be at Cape Cod, which meant more kids to hang out with!

  3. Enjoyed your post and the photo of you with the plaid top keeping you warm as you wade!

  4. Well done to find a match for our SS theme! The holiday beach scenes look too cold for summer. Maybe early spring or fall which are my favorite times to visit any ocean resort. Fewer tourists and more dramatic seas.

    1. I agree, clearly not summer. In later years, when not dependent on my dad’s summer factory shutdown, my family preferred going to Cape Cod in the off season. Less crowded and plenty of bargains!

  5. Nice photo match and nice description of your cool day beach trip. You don’t look like your feet are freezing so maybe the water was a bit less than icy.
    It does look like a real ship and sort of like the one of the ferry. Maybe everybody else was inside because of the freezing weather.
    Your aunt looks ready to meet the world.

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