When you browse through collections of old family photos, you don't usually expect to find this......which looks for all the world to me like a gallows tree. But why would it be in with my mother's old photos? or did it belong with my father's mother's photos? Is it a gallows tree or something else? (Note: it is indeed something else--the Caxton gibbet)
Then there is this photo, carefully pasted in my grandmother's (my father's mother) photo album from the early 1920's.
Hunh? What in the world...
There is fine pencil writing on the back, but it is indecipherable--the photo was glued or pasted down, so when we peeled it sooooo carefully from the black page, a lot of black came with it, and the pencil inscription is so faint that even when I enlarge and darken it I cannot read what my grandmother had to say about the surreal scene above.
If anyone has some suggestions or ideas about either of these photos, I'd love to hear them. I assume, since it was with Mom's stuff, that the first photo was taken in England.
The second is probably from New Orleans, since that's where Grandma lived-- or it could be somewhere else in the South. Beyond that I have no information but a very 'satiable curiosity.
The first picture reminds me of the ballad The Prickly Bush (Child Ballad #95, also known as The Maid Freed from the Gallows-- and by about a dozen other titles).
Hangman, hold you hand,
and hold it for a while
I think I see my own dear mother
coming over the yonder stile
Oh the prickly bush
That pricks my heart so sore
If I ever get out of the prickly bush
I'll never get in it no more
Oh have you brought me gold,
and come to set me free
or have you come to see me hanged
all on the gallows tree?
No, I've not brought you gold,
or come to set you free
I have come to see you hanged
upon the gallows tree
The ballad goes on, with the father, brother and sister coming but unable or refusing to set the girl free. Then her true love comes with gold, and heroically sets her free. For the tune to this ballad, visit Contemplator.com
So, a gallows tree and a few skulls. Care to hazard a guess, or make up a story about these old photos?