When I first discovered the desk drawers where family photos were kept, I dived right in, of course. We were told to Stay Out Of The Desk, but it was ok as long as we didn't hurt anything, and we put it all back.
Eventually, I inherited most of those pics, and really never thought about that one till Larry and I started looking into my family history. Frankly, this photo still didn't resurface till we'd analyzed most of the others. Duh, you say--how would we EVER figure out who/where/when, and sheesh, does it matter at all??!
snort! Evidently, you don't KNOW Larry and me very well....
We zoomed in and examined parts of the pic--see the rocks along the driveway? Why are the men holding tires? ARE they tires? How come some of the people look involved, and the others look--skeptical? What was the man in the foreground selling from his blanket? What buildings were in the background? Are those gas pumps? Where in California would this have been, and what year, approximately? WHAT was on the blanket?
Well, I did a post about it on our Janson blog, but we really had few conclusions. Luckily, mysteries tend to fester, especially in Larry's head ☺. Last night, he popped the pic up for another look. And WOW! I think we've (ok, LARRY) figured it out!
There was something distinctive about the items on the blanket that bugged him...where had he seen them before? And, didn't the men on the ground look sorta Native American? Were those items for sale, or there for another reason entirely? So, he started looking for Native rituals or games, like this: see the pads on the blanket? And wow, those were drums! The men in our picture were playing a game, not listening to a sales pitch!
"The moccasin game was played by men, and wagers were invariably placed by those watching the game. Four men (some tribes used five, others eight) sat on opposite sides of a blanket. Nearby was a drummer (for the Menominee) or a drummer for each player (among the Ojibwa). There were special songs for the moccasin game and the drummer sang and played a tambourine drum. The equipment consisted of four tokens, one of which was marked, four moccasins or small pieces of decorated cloth, and sticks for counters. The object was to hide the tokens under the moccasins, in full sight of the opponents, who then had to guess which moccasin concealed the marked token. There were many pretenses of hiding and removing them, so that one's opponent found it difficult to accurately guess where the marked token was hidden. Four attempts were allowed, and then the next player had a turn....The Ojibwa, Ho-chunk, and Menominee used a "striking stick" to turn over the moccasin thought to hide the token. When neighboring tribes visited each other, the players were usually chosen from opposing tribes. Early White settlers, who also enjoyed gambling, adopted the game so zealously that in Indiana a statute expressly forbade gambling at the moccasin game and other gambling games and stiff fines were set". VIA
"One team takes those balls and hides them under the moccasins. The one that's hiding them will be sitting there shaking those balls with his hands together. When he stops shaking them his hands open a little, close to his body, close to his stomach, and he takes a peek down to see where the marked ball is. Then he hides it wherever he's going to hide them".
Here's how it's played. No wonder the men on the ground in the pic are so animated!
We started to talk about where it could have been, instead. When Larry suggested "somewhere near Sr Laura's mission?", the whole picture warped in front of my eyes...
Incredible! Sure, see the dark space on the horizon, on the right? That was Mille Lacs Lake, and this would have been maybe one of those small gas station businesses up along the lake, right? The kids have ice cream cones, so it was more than just gas. It was one of the places we never, ever stopped.
But then, this morning, Larry went even farther: overnight, he'd developed A THEORY.
Could this have been taken at the Indian Trading Post there on Mille Lacs? The very Trading Post that's across highway 169 from the Little Flower Mission?
Wow, Larry!! ☺