Sepia Saturday 597. Nineteenth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.
At one time, the teen years weren’t recognized in U.S. popular culture as a special time of life. That changed after WWII, according to Derek Thompson in his Saturday Evening Post article titled “A Brief History of Teenagers.”
“The teenager emerged in the middle of the 20th century thanks to the confluence of three trends in education, economics, and technology. High schools gave young people a place to build a separate culture outside the watchful eye of family. Rapid growth gave them income, either earned or taken from their parents. Cars (and, later, another mobile technology) gave them independence.
This sociological development occurred after my maternal grandfather Tony Laurence (b. 1902) and his brother Joe (b. 1903) were adults. Yet their adolescent photos shown below, from circa 1915, seem to reveal the type of teenage changes we recognize today.
More mature expressions
In his baby and toddler photos, my grandfather Tony looked playful and sported an infectious grin. In this teen picture, however, he looks more serious and worldly in a stiff-collared shirt, suit jacket and tie.
The same is true of his younger brother, my mom’s Uncle Joe. Although he was a “tween” in 1915 — about the time these photos were taken — he also looks more staid and serious than in his youth. Every hair is in place and he also wears a suit, shirt and tie.
The Forbes Studio
Tony and Joe posed for their photos at Forbes Studio of Gloversville, N.Y. — a different studio than the one their parents took them to as children. So I went online see what I could find about this photographer, and discovered an interesting ad.
Forbes Studio apparently joined other Gloversville businesses in the raffle of a “Pony outfit” — which I am guessing may have been a Halloween costume, since the ad appeared in October 1915.
Forbes Studio placed other ads in the Gloversville newspapers over several decades encouraging parents to bring their children in for portraits at the start of each new school year.
Headed for adulthood
Whatever the impetus, I am glad my great-grandparents Peter and Mary (Curcio) Laurence/di Lorenzo took my grandfather and Uncle Joe to have these photos taken at a transitional point in their young lives.
In 1915, my Laurence/di Lorenzo ancestors were still living at 128 E. Fulton Street — in the crowded Curcio household of Mary’s parents (and my great-great grandparents) Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro ) Curcio. My grandfather Tony and his brother Joe were both still in school.
Yet how handsome and mature they looked as they headed toward adulthood. And how grateful I am for these portraits — the only adolescent images of Tony and Joe that I have found in the family photo collection.
Up next, my grandfather Tony in a mystery photo. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.
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