Artifact: Two Photographs of Ina and Robert Higgins, Seal Harbor, 1924

Description: Margaret Joyal and her brother George MacDonald share two photographs of their great-grandparents, Ina and Robert Higgins. One photo depicts Ina and Robert, and the other photo depicts them and their children – Sylvia, Gladys, Weston, Carl, and Isabel – at their home on Jordan Pond Road in Seal Harbor, Summer of 1924. Gladys is George and Margaret’s grandmother, who they refer to as a ‘strong, strong woman’ that kept ‘Grampy under her thumb…because he was always getting into trouble.’

Oral History:

Oral History Transcription:

This is Jenna Beaulieu (JB) interviewing History Harvest participant Margaret Joyal (MJ) at the Sound School House on August 22, 2018 as part of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society’s History Harvest program. We have two photographs here one is of Ina and Robert Higgins.

MJ: Right, it looks like they called him Bert, like in this one I think it says “Bert” and on here it says he was a Captain.

JB: And then in the second photo we have the same two, but they are photographed with their children. If you could just read to me what the back of that photograph says.

MJ: The Higgins family, 1924, Robert “Bert” Higgins and Ina Higgins and their children: Sylvia, Gladys, Weston, Carl and Isabel. And they are at home, Jordan Pond Road, Seal Harbor, Maine. Summer of 1924.

JB: Have you ever been to this Jordan Pond home location?

MJ: (Indicates to the negative)

JB: So this was out of the family by the time…

MJ: Right, we have no idea. I don’t even know…I don’t think that this is the Robbins house. I think this is a different house, because I think they lived in the Robbins house later on in life.

JB: So in this photograph…Gladys is your grandmother.

MJ: Correct.

JB: And were you close with any of the members of the family in this photograph?

MJ: I remember Uncle Carl very, very well.

JB: What was he like?

MJ: He was quite the character.

George: I don’t really know what he did for a living in his early life, but later on in life he used to drive a tour bus, and our cousin Bobby Norwood would go with him–after he retired from his masonry business. They would take senior citizens and cart them all over the place, and Bobby used to be the Bingo caller—they would play Bingo on the bus. And they just loved it; they had a ball.

MJ: Oh, he was a lot of fun. And, I also have a picture–I didn’t bring that–of Uncle Carl. He was the retired skipper for Dr. Lingenfelter’s boat, and this was down in Castine—I think that was when they held it in Castine, because it moved a couple of times and now is back in Castine. And they actually won—he won this big cup thing for them–and I do have that picture; I don’t have it with me.

JB: Any other members of the family that you remember?

MJ: I vaguely remember Uncle Weston and Aunt Sylvia, vaguely. Isabel…I…don’t…

George: Which one is Bobby’s mother? Sylvia?

MJ: No, because Sylvia married Raymond Dow. Maybe it’s Isabel; I bet it’s Isabel.  Isabel was Cousin Bobby’s mom. Yep. I do not believe I have anything documented on that.

JB: So, we have formally talked about Gladys during an oral history for your photograph donation but could you tell me just a little bit more about her, for the purpose of our History Harvest? Gladys, and the ginger ale. And we know she wore perfume, and was a buxom lady.

MJ: And of course she always wore dresses.

George: Yeah, flowered dresses.

MJ: Always wore dresses that buttoned up the front, I can remember, it was just typical of her; never saw her in anything different. I always remember her with gray hair, you know; she always had gray hair.

JB: What was her personality like?

George: She was sweet but she was strong, strong woman. She’d keep Grampy under her thumb.  He would…he was always getting in trouble…with her. (laughs)

MJ: We laugh because he was such character.

JB: So is her…she doesn’t have any…her husband isn’t in this photo, right?

MJ: No.

JB: This is her and her siblings?

MJ: Correct.

JB: With her parents.

MJ: Right.

JB: Thank you.

MJ: Right.

JB: Do we know how old she would have been in 1924?

George: She died at 77.

MJ: She was born in 1895.

JB: So, she was 29 in this photograph. Do you have the ages of any of her siblings?

MJ: I do not have them all. Um, and they actually had two other children that died in infancy. So there would’ve been seven in all, because I have those marked down.

JB: So you said these came to you–these photographs–and was it in this book?

MJ: No, no. These came from my mom. She would’ve gotten them either from her mother or from Cousin Bobby Norwood.

JB: And your mother passed away in…

George: 2002.

JB: And that’s when you acquired these.

MJ: Right.

JB: Did you ever visit MDI in the summer yourself when you were children?

George: Every Memorial Day weekend.

JB: Every Memorial Day weekend!

MJ: We had a big family reunion.

JB: Oh, really.

George: Yeah, we used to have a…it didn’t start out on Thompson Island but it ended up on Thompson Island, because it was…as the family grew. And then when my mother died, that was kind of the end of it.

MJ: It was. My mom was the glue that hung, that held it all together.

George: Yep, her and Bobby.

MJ: We’ve done it at Bobby’s house–Bobby Norwood—we’ve done it at Uncle Carl’s camp on Long Lake…

JB: So is there quite a turnout at these family reunions?

George: Oh, yeah. Yeah, you know, years ago there were.

JB: And what was it, what was it…like barbecue and swimming?

George: Clams…

MJ: No swimming…you don’t swim in the ocean. Clams, Italian sandwiches, salads and whatever everybody brought—whatever they wanted to eat. But Bobby and I and my brothers always went clammin’ the day, until the rules got so strict that we couldn’t go anymore. But Bobby had a license so he used to do it by himself.

JB: Get the clams for everyone.

George: Yeah.

JB:  Well! Cousin Bobby…so it’s been since 2002, or was it before that before that…before she passed…

George: Oh, no, no…actually I think we did it…

MJ: I think we did it a couple years afterward…

George: Yeah but it didn’t work…

MJ: But the turnout…the Rockland crew…there was some reason they couldn’t come and so ended up peterin’ out and we moved to my daughter’s house in Jonesport.

JB:  Oh, Jonesport’s beautiful.

MJ: Yeah.

JB: Well, thank you so much for sharing these photographs with us. Do you have anything else you want to say about them before we finish the recording.

MJ:  Nope, all set.

JB: Okay. So again, this is Jenna Beaulieu interviewing History Harvest participant Margaret Joyal and her brother…

George: George

MJ: George, at the Sound School House on August 22, 2008. Thank you so much for your time.


Resourceful Links:

Joyal Oral History Transcription.pdf