Saturday, April 13, 2013

Great Great Grandpa Lowber

New Bern, NC

Our grandchildren are now old enough to understand that they not only have two sets of grandparents, but four sets of great grandparents and eight sets of great great grandparents.   The names of many of them are probably lost, and the details of their lives are unimaginable to the younger generation.  This blog post is for the benefit of our children and grandchildren.

The other day Libby found some films on iTunesU that show New York City scenes from 1903.  The films are so old that many of them were shot by Thomas A Edison Inc.

Libby's Grandfather, Charles Lowber, came from Germany (although the name Lowber is considered to be Dutch).  Her grandmother, Elizabeth Love Lowber, came from England.  The couple arrived in Ellis Island sometime around 1890.  They had children Dolly, Ernest, and Frances while living in New York.  Libby's father, Frances William Lowber was born in 1907.

1903 is close enough to 1890 and to 1907 to show what life was like for Libby's grandparents (our grandchildren's great great grandparents).  All the films are silent, and are 1-2 minutes long and fun to watch.   You can imagine Charles and Elizabeth as being any of the people you see in the films.

  • New York City "ghetto" fish market  (note the simple clothes of the poor people, and compare them to the clothes of richer people in the other films)
  • Buffalo Bill's wild west parade (remember no Internet, no TV, no radio, no films for ordinary people in those days.  Entertainment on the street would be a big thing.  Interesting that almost zero women are seen in this crowd.)
  • At the foot of the Flatiron (The Flatiron building is in Times Square. Note that the people here have much nicer clothes than the pepole in the fish market.  Most of the women wore bustles to make their butts and their hips look bigger.)
  • Lower Broadway (Transportation is the interesting thing here.  Most vehicles in the streets were horse drawn.   I think I saw one automobile.  One trolley had a horse but the others were electric? or gasoline? Many more people walked than we see walking today.  No subways in 1903.  There is no sign of red lights or stop signs, but who needs them when everything moves so slowly.)
  • Emigrants [i.e. immigrants] landing at Ellis Island (Ellis Island in New York Harbor is where immigrants got off the boat and were processed by the US Government.  The government decided if they were allowed to stay.   Think of those people, carrying with them everything they own in the world, entering a strange country, maybe not understanding English, and never to see their home land ever again.  What an adventure!   How scary for them!  Charles and Elizabeth Lowber were among the immigrants at Ellis Island around 1890.  You can visit Ellis Island today; it's very interesting.)
  • Panorama water front and Brooklyn Bridge from East River (The water front then was much busier than today.  Many more ships.  Note that most of the ships were still sailing ships, even though steam ships had been in use for 50 years.   I'll bet that none of those sailing ships could sail to the dock against the swift currents in the river.  That is why there are so many tug boats around to push/pull them to where they needed to go.  The Brooklyn Bridge looked the same in 1903 as it does in 2013.)
  • A perilous proceeding  (Building skyscrapers high in the sky was dangerous.  The men you see horsing around on the crane are not dressed like workers.  They were probably bosses, or politicians, or visitors.  Can you imagine being allowed to play like that today?)

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