Sunday, November 4, 2012

Grandfather (UPDATED)

No, I didn't add sepia to this photograph using Instagram. This sepia tone is real. It's an old photograph of my paternal grandfather, Peter Podelco (on the left), with an unknown friend. I just noticed that he's holding a photo of a woman, which is attached to a stick, like a fan. Could be my grandmother. Hard to tell.

I never really knew either of my grandfathers. Peter died when I was about 5 or 6. I have vague memories of him. He lived in Piedmont, West Virginia, and was a coal miner. A real tough son-of-a-bitch, to hear my dad tell it.

(My cousin just told me a story about my grandfather that I hadn't heard: His mother died after being crushed by one of their horses in the barn. She died a few days after the accident. He was so upset, he punched the horse, and it died instantly.)

Interesting setting for this photo, in addition to the woman's photograph. The bottles of beer or spirits on the table. And it's hard to tell what his friend is doing with his left hand. My grandfather is impeccably dressed, with hat in hand; his friend, not so much.

Interesting, too, because my father grew up quite poor, although his father looks like a million bucks in this photo. Perhaps everyone had their Sunday best, even if they didn't have much else.

I'm assuming everything in the photograph has a meaning. Just not sure what that meaning necessarily is.

My great and good friend, Stewart Moore, who is an artist, noticed the similarities between the photograph and this painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, "The Ambassadors," where, indeed, everything does have a meaning. (Notice the weird shape at the bottom of the painting, which, when viewed from an obtuse angle, becomes a perfectly shaped skull.)

UPDATE: I'm told by my Uncle George that this photo was taken on my grandfather's wedding day -- May 25, 1910. The setting is the parlor of the family home in Piedmont, WV. The other man is Charlie Kasmier, my grandfather's stepbrother. They are each drinking a bottle of beer, and there is a small bottle of Champagne and a bottle of liquor on the table.

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