Sunday, 12 March 2017

The Sleeping Beauty 1907

The Haslemere Educational Museum has a large collection of Jospeh King’s postcards.  They are categorized by country and too plentiful to read in detail.  When I looked through these a few years ago, this one of a sleeping girl in Ticnio, Switzerland caught my eye.  The girl is shown in “costume ticinesi”, the typical dress of the peasants of the canton of Ticino, in South West Switzerland, which seems to have been a particularly poor region, as this account I found online seems to suggest (Swissinfo).  

1907 postcard from Joseph King at Locarno, Ticino
to Kitty King, from Haslemere Educational Museum

This records the memories of Clementina Rusconi born in 1905, by Franco Binda for his 1983 book 'The old people and the mountain'.  Clementina seems to have lived a life similar to that of the sleeping haymaker in the postcard that Joseph King sent his daughter, Kitty, on the 22nd April 1907.  Clementina recalls “People now say we lived that way because we were ignorant, but it is not true.  We were not ignorant, we just didn’t have any money.  For a day’s labour, from sunrise to sunset, we were paid SFr1.50 and, when when we could get that sort of work, eating polenta and cod was a luxury…We would cut wild hay in the area known as Al Valee, above Daghei, opposite Capelina (Val d’Osola)…All in all, we were unaware of our precarious situation and were more contented than people are now...For us, shows were a minor consideration.  It did not bother us much, because we were used to going barefoot.”

postcard detail,
1907 postcard from Joseph King at Locarno, Ticino
to Kitty King, from Haslemere Educational Museum

Joseph King writes to his daughter, Miss Kitty King”


This is such a place & such a lovely day to enjoy it. and the girls are so pretty & busy till they fall aside tired with work like The Sleeping Beauty whom you see on other side!  But I don’t love my dear girl at home the less because so many little peasant are pretty here. 

Dein Vater”

I wonder if King appreciated the hardship of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and I wonder what they made of him?

Carrying hay in the village of Sonogo in Val Verzasca

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