A 'Swenglish' journey through family photos, notes and postcards from the early 20th century.

2013-03-01

Sepia Saturday: Behind the Counter

“…boxes, paper, workers, machines and dangerously long skirts spring to my mind.”

Gerdas044.2-001

This is another photo from my great-aunt Gerda’s photo album. I don’t think it’s Gerda behind the counter, though, but more likely either her sister Emma, or her sister-in-law Elin (married to her brother Oscar). I will expand my thoughts on that below. Anyway – it’s a workplace, and it includes a lot of little boxes! – which is why I thought of it for this week’s Sepia Saturday.

Emma’s husband Brynolf Wilander had a country store in Floby near Falköping. I presume Emma stood behind the counter sometimes too. Gerda, I’ve learned from the old postcards, stayed with Emma and her family a lot during 1901-02, before she emigrated to America.

However, I also learned from a relative a while back that Wilander branched out and open a second store at Odensberg in or around 1904; which was run by Oscar, brother to Emma and Gerda. His wife’s name was Elin.

In my grandparents’ photo albums, I found these two photos of the Wilander house and store in Floby:

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Wilanders hus i Floby. (Wilander’s house in Floby)

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“Kaffehörnan” vid Wilanders i Floby
(“The coffee corner” at Wilander’s in Floby)

In Gerda’s album, next to the shop interior, however, there is a photo of a different house:

Gerdas044.1-001

There are no notes in Gerda’s photo album, and the photos in it do not come in chronological order either. I can only guess, but maybe this is the branch store at Odensberg. At first I thought perhaps from the opening… But judging from hairstyles and clothes, I think the interior must be of later date than 1904.

Bakom Disken

Veckans Sepia Saturday-utmaning utgår från ett foto av en kvinna som arbetar med att skära och vika papperskartonger. Mitt bidrag är ännu ett foto från Gerdas fotoalbum. Jag tror inte det är Gerda själv bakom disken i handelsboden, utan antingen hennes syster Emma eller deras svägerska Elin (gift med deras bror Oscar).

Emma var gift med Brynolf Wilander som hade lanthandel i Floby. Det framgår av vykortskorrespondensen syskonen emellan, att Gerda tillbringade mycket tid hos Wilanders under åren 1901-02 innan hon emigrerade till Amerika. Lanthandelsfotot måste dock vara från senare datum än så, att döma av kläder och frisyrer.

Jag fick veta av en släkting häromsistens att Wilanders också öppnade en filial i Odensberg, med svågern Oscar som föreståndare - men även det var redan ca 1904. 

I farfars och farmors fotoalbum har jag hittat två foton av det Wilanderska huset i Floby; de två mitten-bilderna ovan.

I Gerdas album, intill lanthandelsinteriören, sitter emellertid ett foto av ett helt annat hus (det fjärde fotot). Gerdas album saknar helt anteckningar, och fotona är heller inte insatta i kronologisk ordning. Det verkar ändå troligt att detta hus hör ihop med lanthandelsinteriören. Min gissning tills vidare blir därför att fotona är från filialen i Odensberg; och kvinnan bakom disken troligen Oscars hustru Elin.

16 comments:

  1. I especially like the architecture of the second store. I thought it was a house, or perhaps it was a house with store attached as the first one. Such a lovely setting too.

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    1. Wendy, yes, I'm thinking house with store attached, because there seems to be two entrances on the front. The double door on the left but also a porch to the right. As I said this is just a guess from my side though as there are no notes to go with this photo.

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  2. Oh I too am a fan of the second store, or last house although they both have interesting points. A great moment in shopping too, I like the lady customer's expression looking at the photographer! Oh dear are you getting me in this photo too!

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    1. One of the things I like about the shop interior photo Karen, is that they're not "posing" for it. I'm curious who took it. If it had been my grandfather I should probably have seen it in one of the other albums as well but I don't think I have.

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  3. These house are of a style that you wouldn't see in England (or New Zealand, where I live) but I can envisage them in the US, presumably because of the immigrant Scandinavian influence.

    Noting that you come from there, I recall very distinctly a Swedish stamp from the 1970s depicting a scene from Vastergotland, a large glaciated valley, but I can't find an image of it using the ubiquitous Google, so perhaps my memory's playing tricks.

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    1. I never collected stamps even if I used a lot of them through the years... We have no glaciers but I suppose there may have been some snowy winter picture. The province of Västergötland is mostly rather flat agricultural land with a few low flat-top mountains (no higher than 330 m over sea level) and other parts hilly with forests. The area has been inhabited since the stone age.

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  4. The first photo is good to have - One of my families owned a shop but we have no interior shots or photos of the people working there.

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    1. It's really very rarely that we take photos of the places where we work, isn't it!

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  5. The inside of a shop as they used to be before supermarkets took over. I haven't seen a shop like the on in your photo for years.

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  6. Great photo - full of detail and, of course, plenty of boxes. You share your family history so well, it remains interesting even if we do not know the individuals concerned.

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    1. Thanks Alan. I try to keep in mind with the Sepia Saturday posts that they may be read by some who have not been following the rest of the blog.

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  7. Looks like a lovely little store. I bet they knew all the local news.

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  8. The store looks like one could just walk up to the counter and buy something still. The store and house look much different than the ones we have here.

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  9. Your family's photos are so much more interesting than the posed family photos in most people's family albums.

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  10. Kompletterande uppgifter via email från min släkting Bengt W:

    "Kvinnan bakom disken är Ester. Hon var hushållerska först på Vartofta egendom so Falköping o sedan på Adelsnäs trädgårdsskola vid Åtvidaberg. Hon drev sedan under många år en blomsterhandel i Mullsjö. Hon trappade ner med en konfektyrbutik. Fotot är från ”gottaffären”. --- Jag tror inte Emma stod bakom disken hos Brynolf. Där fanns bodbiträden o magasinsdrängar, hästkarl o springpojkar, kokerskor o tvätterskor o hemmadottern Ella. Farmor Emma var mera övervakande. Brynolf hade också en filial i Grolanda någon mil söder om Floby. Som ung flicka fick dottern Edit en gång resa ensam dit. På en liten papperslapp som sänts till modern Emma med någon vägfarande skriver hon att hon inte kunnat få åka med någon skjuts hem så hon måste övernatta i Grolanda. Det fanns inte SMS eller ens telefon. Därför alla brevkort som i lyckliga fall kunnat bevaras som 'greetings from the past'. "

    Tack Bengt!

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    1. A relative (grandson to Emma) who saw this post wrote an email and informed me that the woman behind the counter is Ester (the sister between Emma and Gerda in age); and the shop is a a confectioner's shop she had in later years. (Before that she had worked as a housekeeper and also at a garden center and florist's shop.) He also says he does not think Emma used to work in her husband's store, as they had several employees. It seems their shop and household was bigger than I knew!Thanks Bengt for the additional info!

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