Spring at Grandview Park

Not long before they married on 08 June 1929, Gerald Adam and Fern Thoma posed for a series of snapshots at Grandview Park in Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa.1

Gerald, known as Jerry, was twenty years old to Fern’s twenty-one at the time these photographs were likely taken; the prints are stamped with the date 19 March 1929. On what was perhaps the first day warm enough to shed their jackets that year, they clowned around with friends Dorothy Thompson, Irene Tasker, and Clifford Thompson, and snapped a number of photographs documenting their time together. Curly-haired Dorothy and Clifford were siblings; Clifford and Irene would later marry.2

Fern wears heels and stockings, and her on-trend long sleeved, drop-waist dress hits just below the knee. Its geometric pattern is indistinct in the photographs, but it features a sailor-esque tie at the v-neck and two rows of ruffles at the hem.3 Her long wool jacket, worn in all but one of the photographs, has a warm fur collar; her two female friends also wear fur-trimmed jackets. Fern’s bob is neatly concealed by her stylishly adorned cloche hat.4 Jerry is smartly dressed as well, wearing a wool suit with a bow tie and a straw hat, his outfit nearly identical to that of his friend’s. His pants, cuffed at the hems, are so wide and loose that they appear to almost skim the grass; they look much like the ready-made “Oxford Bags” that became popular in the mid-1920s. 

Whether the couple was celebrating something in particular—an engagement?—or simply enjoying the spring weather on an afternoon walk with friends, it is interesting to note that several photographs were taken at a memorial for one Mabel Allison More, a Sioux City resident who had died in 1924.5 Given the lighthearted nature of the photographs, it can be assumed that the young people did not know More, but were rather attracted to the charming tiled wall merely as a backdrop and convenient place to climb. Grandview Park was presented to the city of Sioux City in 1908, and soon became a popular gathering place known especially for its trellised rose garden, the beginnings of which may be visible in the photograph of Fern, Dorothy, and Irene, and later for its bandshell.6

A little less than three months after these photographs were printed, Fern and Jerry would marry, with one of their friends pictured here, Dorothy, serving as an attendant.7 Although no photographs of their wedding day, nor their honeymoon in the Black Hills, are known to exist, these snapshots give a glimpse into the relationship of this happy young couple who leaned comfortably into one another and smiled joyfully for the camera.8

Copyright © 2018 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.


SOURCES

1 “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1880-1940,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 April 2018), Gerald Adam and Fern Thoma, 08 June 1929, Sioux City; citing “Iowa Marriage Records, 1923–37,” microfilm, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines.
2 “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1880-1940,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 April 2018), Clifford Thompson and Irene Tasker, 31 May 1930, Sioux City; citing “Iowa Marriage Records, 1923-37,” microfilm, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines.
3 “History of 1920s Day Dresses,” Vintage Dancer (https://vintagedancer.com/1920s/1920s-day-dresses : accessed 30 April 2018).
4 “1920s Hat Styles for Women,” Vintage Dancer (https://vintagedancer.com/1920s/1920s-hats-styles : accessed 30 April 2018).
5 “Iowa, Death Records, 1920-1940,” database and images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 April 2018), entry for Mabel Allison More, 08 August 1924, Sioux City; citing State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines.
6 “Grandview Park and the Bandshell,” Sioux City History (http://www.siouxcityhistory.org/historic-sites/110-grandview-park-a-the-band-shell : accessed 30 April 2018).
7 “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1923-1937,” digital images, Ancestry.com, Gerald Adam and Fern Thoma, 08 June 1929, Sioux City.
8 “Mr. and Mrs. George Thoma […],” undated clipping, ca. June 1929, from unidentified newspaper.

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