Hubert Slifer Smith at Work and Leisure
It’s unusual to find two photographs of the same individual–and even more unusual to find an “occupational” photo. So I was very excited when I found these two for sale, both idenfied in ink on the reverse as “Hubert Smith.”
The first, taken at Academy Studio, Cumberland, Maryland, shows Hubert dressed as a baker, holding one of the implements of his trade.
It wasn’t hard to locate a Hubert Slifer Smith (1885-1949) occupation baker, in the census records for Cumberland.
Born in Boonsboro, Washington County, Maryland to Omar S. Smith and Emma F. Houpt, Hubert Smith (1885-1949) married Scottish immigrant Elizabeth Walker. He and Elizabeth lived in Cumberland, where Hubert worked as a baker.
In 1917, when he registered for the draft, he was working for John M. Streett.
Streett had two bakeries, one in Frostburg, and one in Cumberland, at 80 Centre Street and later at 200-204 Centre Street. I’ve found adversisements in trade publications for Streett’s Famous Mother’s Bread; he also called his business Pure Food Bakery. An undated photograph in the Herman and Stacia Miller Collection shows Streett’s bakery with the proprietor and his workers standing out front.
Streett boasted about the cleanliness of his establishment, a feature dwelt upon in the Baker’s Review of 1915. “Leading grocers throughout Cumberland and ‘up the creek’ sell and recommend Streett’s Mother’s Bread,” said an ad in The Catholic Red Book of Western Maryland.
In the first photo, the skinny, slope-shouldered youth, almost lost in his uniform, wears an elaborate ribbon on his gleaming white shirt, but I haven’t been able to make out what it says. My best guess for the occasion of the portrait is one of Cumberland’s Labor Day parades, in which groups of tradesmen and craftsmen marched, dressed in the uniforms of their occupations.
The elaborate pin with a ribbon and badge resembles old lodge badges of the Knights of Pythias and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows that I’ve seen.
Confident manhood replaces callow youth in the portrait of Hubert Smith taken at the McCune Studio in Hagerstown, Maryland. Smith proudly shows off his dress clothes, including a top coat, gloves, and a natty homberg hat.
The McCune Studio, like the Academy Studio, isn’t listed in Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900. But Charles Brewer McCune (1869-1953) is memorialized on findagrave.com with his obituary and a photograph of his grave at Rose Hill Cemetery, Hagerstown. According to that obituary, McCune practiced professional photography in Hagerstown for 35 years.
Both of these cabinet cards are non-standard sizes. The earlier card mount measures 3″ x 6″ and the later McCune card is 5″ x 8″ –perhaps chosen to emphasize his lanky build. Both mounts, with their neutral colors and understated blind-embossed advertising marks reflect the more refined card portrait style of the early 1900s.
The Smiths’ lives were marked by the singular tragedy of deaths of their only child and grandchild.
Doris E. Smith (b. 1909, Cumberland, Md.) married handsome US Naval Academy graduate Robert Allen Joseph English (1899-1969), and they had a daughter, Roberta, in 1943.
Three years later, with her husband in Europe on extended duty with General Eisenhower’s staff, Doris killed herself and her daughter using gas from the oven in their Arlington, Virginia home.