A cousin sent me an envelope filled with unnamed and unwanted photographs. Oh, how I loved getting that present in the mail.
Mixed among the photographs of the Pacheco’s was this odd postcard:
The postcard is none other than of my Great Great Uncle Francisco Pacheco (aka Frank Algrava), son of Joao Pacheco and Ana Jacinta de Mello. He looks proud driving around town in his jalopy. Only he doesn’t look like he’s outside, does he?
I thought it was an odd one. Then a cousin sent me this shot:
Why it’s the very same car with the same background! You can see that it’s dated 1913. The people in the car are (front seat) Anton “Dean” Souza and Angelina (Vieira) Pacheco. In the back seat are Antonio Pacheco (aka Tony Algrava) and his future bride, Georgina Medeiros. (Maybe this was even a wedding celebration photo for Antonio and Georgina!)
I did a little research on these photographs and this is what I found out. In the early 1900s, people wanted to assure their relatives back home that they were doing well. One way was to have themselves photographed in a studio in an automobile. The photographs were put on postcards, then sent back home to let everyone grow green with envy. I’m not sure if the point was to make them giggle or to say “Hey, look how well I’m doing. I’ve got a car!”
Why do these photographs make me laugh? First, they clearly wanted to make it look like they were out for a Sunday drive. Everyone is is their Sunday best. I am surprised there are no scarves and goggles!
Second, I can’t help but look at that fake city background, then the car, and laugh. All I can think is “It’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!” Certainly looks like it’s up flying around the roof tops of that cityscape!
I wonder how much money the photographer made off these shots? I bet people came in droves to get their picture taken in a fancy automobile. How many of them were my relatives?
It also makes me wonder if the people back home were fooled. Perhaps they’d never seen a car before, so they bought this shot hook, line, and sinker.
At any rate, I am happy to have these postcards in my collection.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com