Friday, February 21, 2014

Sepia Saturday 216 Suits and hats and men's fashions 1923

Adelbert Behrndt and Sophia
Roth Behrndt  1923
Today's prompt of men in suits led me back in our albums to 1923 in Hokah, Minnesota where  Jerry's great grandparents Adelbert and Sophia Behrndt were celebrating their 50th anniversary surrounded by family.  That year on March 3 Time magazine made its debut, a vaccine was developed for whooping cough (pertussis), and Calvin Coolidge became US President upon the death of President Warren Harding who fell ill in Alaska.  On May 28, the US Attorney General opined that it is legal for women to wear trousers anywhere which fascinated me because I remember when pant suits became alright for women to wear back when we were still wearing only dresses and skirts, in the late 1960's.  But in this rural area of Minnesota, Hokah a name from the Dakota Indian,  Hutkan, was growing.  It was settled in 1851, became a railway village in 1871, was incorporated as a town in 1923. Still, news of current events would be secondary to the Behrndt celebration.  The families kept busy as  farmers, carpenters, lumbermen and banking and went about  their day to day lives. And Adelbert would don what was surely his only suit for the anniversary party or picnic at the home, a long time hard working farmer did not dress up.   But for this day everyone was dressed in their Sunday best, just like the  brothers in law gathered in the next photo.  

Brothers in law at Behrndt's 50th Left to right
Burl Kellogg, Charlie Behrndt (Jerry's grandpa), Phillip Frey  and
Otto Ziemann
I call attention to Otto on the far right, notice his straight upright stance; he appears at that same alert uprightness in every photo we have of him while others do not appear as formal.  Burl is a leaner in most of his photos and Charlie is merely tolerant of the posing. Forward quickly to 1930 and a photo  which has always amused us, Lottie (Jerry's grand aunt and Charlie's sister) appears to be holding her husband,  Otto,  upright as though he were a puppet and she had full control of the strings.  Jerry's grandma Esther, Charlie's wife, to the  right appears amused turning aside and talking to someone else with suit and hat.  It was the way things were, suit and hat were worn for gatherings.  I think we are much more at ease and comfortable today in jeans, and casual attire.   
1930 Lottie and Otto Zieman
Esther (Jerry's grandmother) to right
I found this last  information on men's fashions while  researching  1923

This is  my response to the men in suits and hats from our family photos. Check out what others have to show for the week at the link here.


  1. Your mention of women's pant suits brought back memories. Murphy's Law! Just about the time I got married & stopped working, it became acceptable for women to wear pant suits to work. Until then it was dresses or skirts although I subscribed to mini skirts so I'm not sure why those were acceptable, but not pants. I loved the colors & patterns & soft comfortable knits of those first pant suits. Unfortunately they've become more sedate these days. I saved 3 of my favorites but I really don't know where I'd wear them now.

  2. Even when they considered themselves to be casually dressed, our ancestors still managed to look formal in comparison to our modern fashions. And they had woolen fabrics and no air conditioning.

  3. Otto appears a little short compared to Lottie. Maybe he stood up straight to look taller.

  4. I really enjoyed this post, and especially the lady off to the side, like she's sharing a joke or laugh, next to the cute Lottie and Otto!

  5. The Adelbert and Sophia photo is a gem. The 1923 fashions you show at the bottom reminded me that last week I saw a man wearing a pair of boots like those - and thought it odd.

  6. Back in the days when clothes cost a very large amount of money and money was scarce and clothes where made to last, I suppose suits went through a lifespan that started as Sunday best and ended many years later as workwear.

  7. You’re absolutely right she does look as though she’s working him! Very funny. It’s a pity hats seem to have fallen out of favour as they do seem to complete the outfit.

  8. It's always so difficult to judge the age of people in old photographs when they're middle-aged or old. People today married for 50 years look so much younger than people of the same age then.

  9. The historical perspective in this piece is really eye-opening. Very interesting. I really enjoyed hearing what your family finds amusing in old photos because our family is like that too -- we can laugh repeatedly at something that "outsiders" wouldn't even notice.