Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

My Grandpa's Peeps

Erotic jewelry was a key element in Herb 'n' Lorna, the Eric Kraft novel I just finished reading. I was reminded of a ring my father passed along to me a year or two ago. It had originally belonged to my mother's dad, Rosmer Kerr, whom my grandmother affectionately called by his initials, R.P.

The stone in the top of this ring is large. You can't see much of it in the picture--it's set deep into the ring--but it has many facets and catches the light rather nicely. However, this ring is not about the stone, which is surely made of glass or paste. This ring is all about that little round spot you see on the side.

The spot is an opening in the metal which goes all the way through to the other side. If you hold the ring up to the sun or a lamp, you can see light through this opening. If you hold the ring very close to your eye and look into this opening, which isn't much bigger than the head of a pin, you discover a tiny black & white photo inside.

There are two women in the picture. They are unclothed, lying down in a loose embrace. The one with her back to the viewer is resting her head on a bolster pillow of a medium-dark color, gathered on the end and finished with a large covered button. You can't see her face, only the back of her head. Her left arm reaches to embrace the other woman, who is behind her facing the viewer, perhaps up on one elbow because her head is higher. Her face, in fact, is the clearest part of the picture. She's looking down at the face of the first woman.

Her expression? Well, in my estimation, despite the position she's in, she's expressionless. Neutral. If not neutral, then what? Bored? Disinterested? Pissy? Tired of the photographer telling her what to do? Anything but passionate! Anything but erotic!

She has her arm over the shoulder of the first woman, her hand at the back of the first woman's head. Any view of her breasts is obscured by their arms. The rest of their bodies seem to be soft-focused to such an extent that, really, there's not much to see. Much ado about nothing, by today's standards. The thrill, I suppose, was in the idea, and in the clever and secretive placement of it inside the ring.

The photo has the number 839 in the lower right corner just below the bolster, but the ring itself has no identifying markings of any kind. Based on the second woman's hair style, I estimate the photo was taken about 1910.

R.P. was born in 1892. He and his brother Milton attended the business college at Valparaiso University in 1911-1912. My best guess is that he would have gotten the ring about that time. Sometime before his death in 1969, he gave the ring to my father.

Update: You can begin to read more about Stanhope microscopic photo-jewelry at Wikipedia.

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Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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