Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Family of 13 Stuffed In A Stocking

Austin Children, abt. 1950. Digital photograph. Privately held by Thomas MacEntee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2008.

This post was composed for the 8th Edition of Smile For The Camera ~ A Carnival of Images

The photograph above is one of my favorites since it shows my mother, Jacqueline Austin MacEntee (lower right) and her siblings. When the photo was taken around 1950, the youngest child had not yet been born so only 11 children of Alfred Austin are shown (only!).

Growing up, I was always fascinated by the many stories my mother and my aunts and uncles would tell about growing up with such a large brood. This was during and right after the Great Depression and I know things were tough for everyone, let along a family with 12 children. One story I remember most is my grandfather taking all 12 children to go see the movie Cheaper By The Dozen. I guess my grandfather asked for a discount since he had so many children but the theater owner demanded proof. So my grandfather went home and pulled all 12 birth certificates, came back and everyone got in for free!

Whose stocking would I stuff with this? It would have to be my grandmother, Anna Henneberg Austin, the mother of all these wonderful children. Since she died in 1965 and I never really got to know her, I'd love to hear her take on what it was like to raise 12 children. I would want to listen to every story, hang on every detail and be able to ask questions. I'd want to know how it was to provide food and clothing and the basic necessities; how it was to not know what kind of trouble the kids would get into next; how the joys of a large family outweighed the burdens.

And I'm sure that all her responses to me would fill more than one Christmas stocking. Well, at least 12 of them.

Austin Children, abt. 1998. Digital photograph. Privately held by Thomas MacEntee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2008.


Bob Kramp said...

I would be curious to know how 3 or 4 boys survived 7 or 8 sisters. Looks like they held up pretty well! You've got a lot of family history research to do. Good Luck. Bob

Janet Iles said...

How wonderful it is that you have these photos. Thank you for sharing them with us. They would make great stocking stuffers.