Sunday, May 7, 2017

It's a Boy – and a Girl! Twins for Will and Sarah Howe Salyers

When Robert King Salyers was two weeks shy of his third birthday, he became a big brother. His mother Sarah Eva Howe Salyers gave birth to twins James Richard and Mary Alice.

The earliest image I have of the twins is this charmer that includes mother Sarah holding  Mary Alice (on the left) and Jim while Bobby looks on. What a perfect example of the clothing styles children wore in that day. Based on the birth date of the twins, 6 April 1915, I'm estimating that the photo was made in the summer of that year, when the twins were about four months old.

In the photo below, taken when the twins were maybe 18 months old, the three children are having a tea party. Mary Alice is on the left, and Jim is on the right. Bobby is serving – using a teapot that we have today.

This excerpt from their mother's scrapbook includes comments from a letter written by their Aunt Leonora (Sarah's sister), whose reference to "we" includes her mother (the children's maternal grandmother Alice Ada Cost Howe):
Those twins! I just long to see them. The pictures of them are so sweet – we have put them on Grandma's mantel, where we can see them every minute of the day. We can't decide which of the pictures we like better – but I think little Mary Alice in the Tea Party looks like a little fairy, and I'd just love to gather her up for a good hug. In the same picture, James Richard's eyes gave us the impression that he is a real little dickens." (Note Sarah's notation "right you were!" Sarah transcribed many letters into her scrapbooks and added editorial notes such as that one.)

I'm guessing this image of the twins in their coats and hats could have been taken in the winter of 1911, as they approached their first birthday that early April. Again, Mary Alice is on the left. The arrangement seems to be true of all the images taken of them as children. Was that intentional?

I date this photo of Sarah with her twins at 1914, based on a guess that the twins are 4 years old. Based on family stories and tidbits from the scrapbooks, I've come up with these sketchy profiles:
• Jim was rambunctious and mischievous. He liked to tease (probably his sister more than anybody else).
• Mary Alice was quieter; dainty and feminine yet fun-loving. She slept with her favorite dolls and a plush bunny.
• Both were smart and inquisitive, as were their big brother and their parents and grandparents. As they got older, Mary Alice learned to play the piano and also performed in a number of school and college plays. Jim played sports and performed in plays, too.

The only other "twins" photo I have handy jumps far ahead to circa 1955-1960 (?). That's just a guess as I place them between 45 and 50 years of age. It captures the personalities I remember. She looks thoughtful, kind, and serene; he is probably thinking about a joke or a prank he plans to pull!

In one of the scrapbooks, Sarah pasted ads and cartoons that featured twins. Here are two of them:

Artist: Charles H. Twelvetrees



Caption to cartoon at right:
"We might flip a coin, and the one who loses can grow up to be VICE-president!"

I've heard twins talk about their frustration at being thought of, especially during childhood, as a "unit." I suppose I have done that very thing by posting about "the twins." To redeem myself, I will soon post about each of these fascinating ancestors separately. Even though there is nobody today who can tell us their birth order, I will start with Jim and lead up to Mary Alice, who was better known to me and my family and who was like a third grandmother to my children.

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