My big sister and her husband are antique postcard dealers. Yesterday they sent me this French card from 1901. Laitière sur la Plage. Dairy on the Beach, or Milkmaid on the Beach — laitière can mean either one. [Click to enlarge.]
I love it. I can stare into the photograph for an hour, imagining that long-ago day on the beach in Berck-Plage in northern France.
Notice the bare feet of the women and the little girl. The white caps and the aprons tied over the long dresses. The gentleman’s striped pants and pointy-toed shoes. The fishing boat pulled up on the sand behind them.
The lady who is kneeling (is she the farmer’s wife?) appears to be milking into a cup for the eagerly waiting child. The milk pail is on the sand behind her.
Just what is needed on a chilly day at the beach: a cup of warm fresh milk, tapped straight from the cow!
And then the cow herself. Her only restraint is a cord looped around her horns — and that is lying loose on the sand. She must be perfectly content in the ocean breeze: she appears to be chewing her cud. But to me, the most amazing part:
Regardez those teats!
It’s one thing to know intellectually that cows today have been bred for smaller teats to accommodate milking machines, but the contrast is breathtaking.
Here’s a modern cow’s udder.
Now, look again at that udder from 110 years ago.
Those teats look like kielbasas!
I love history. Thank you, N and D, for this glimpse of Katika’s possible great, great grand-mere, living the good life on the beach in France.