Although I remember when my great grandmother first showed me this photograph, years ago, I wish I could remember more of what she had to say about it. I believe that the furs that she and her younger sister wore may have been a special gift. From left to right are sisters Norma and Fern Thoma of Decatur, Burt County, Nebraska, most likely photographed during the winter of 1917-1918. At this time, Fern would have been ten years old,1 and Norma would have been a few months shy of her third birthday.2 They lived in town, a community of eight hundred, as their father was a grocer.3
The girls seem to have been posed specifically to show off their matching fur hats, collars, and muffs. Have you ever felt a fur muff? They really are very warm, perfect to shelter little fingers from the biting cold of a Nebraska winter. Norma and Fern are also bundled into long wool coats, and Fern wears what seem to be stylish gaiters or “spats” over her shoes, such as those seen at The Quintessential Clothes Pen: An Exploration of Historic Costume.
With the holidays approaching, I can’t help but wonder if these furs might have been a Christmas gift, or if the girls may have worn them in honor of the day. In that spirit, I would like to take this opportunity to wish very happy holidays to all of my readers, as well as to offer a big thank you for following The Homestead!
1 Iowa State Department of Health, birth certificate no. 419687 (1907, issued 1942), Fern L. Thoma; Division of Vital Statistics, Des Moines.
2 Nebraska State Department of Health, birth certificate no. 2-84091 (1915, issued 1943), Norma A. Thoma; Division of Vital Statistics, Lincoln.
3 Bill Weaver, “Nebraska State Gazetteer and Business Directory – 1917 – Decatur,” NE GenWeb Project: Burt County, Nebraska On-Line Resources (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~neburt/olres/gazbus17.html : accessed 15 December 2013), entry for Geo. H. Thomas [Thoma].