“Dear Tessie...”

This is something I never thought would be awaiting me in Ireland: a photograph of myself as a teenager.

My mother, Harriet McNamara, would correspond with my father’s sister Tessie in Maghera in the 1930s, and the two ladies would include snapshots of their families with their letters.  While visiting in Maghera in the spring of 2000, I was presented with photographs my mother had mailed from Paterson, New Jersey, more than 60 years earlier.

As seen above, on the back of this photograph my mother wrote a brief caption in pencil for her sister-in-law Tessie: “This is Robert.”

I immediately recognized the cap and sweatshirt I am wearing in this snapshot as what I would have worn to go ice skating.  The location was my family’s house on East 23rd Street in Paterson.

Other Snapshots My Mother Sent to My Aunt in Ireland

In these snapshots, which my mother took in our yard in May 1938, my brother Bernie and my sister Eileen are posing before their First Holy Communion ceremony.


In this snapshot sent to my Aunt Tessie in Ireland, my mother poses with my sisters.  

Marie is on the left, Eileen is on the right.  It appears that this photograph was taken at Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, where my family would vacation in the summer.


My brother Billy poses with my mother in front of our house on East 23rd Street in Paterson.

After being in Ireland for six decades, this snapshot is now in the possession of my brother Billy, who was astonished and delighted to receive it.

Billy actually remembers posing for the snapshot: he picked a rose, which he is holding, from the rose bush in front of our house.  He recalls posing with our mother while Mrs. Greenough, who lived next door to us in Paterson, snapped the picture.



My brother Charlie poses with two of our cousins, Rita Merriman (left) and Bernadette Merriman.

Judging by the age of my brother in this photograph, this must have been taken in the early 1930s, and it is a few years older than the photographs above.

The location is the backyard of my family’s house on Cedar Street in Paterson.


To see more snapshots my mother sent to Ireland in the 1930s, click here.


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