Elf Child of Gloucester

Clara Bray~Elf Child, 1913 Alice M. Curtis/©Fredrik D. Bodin
People visiting the gallery fall in love with the ethereal charm of this photograph. It has universal appeal, and LIFE Magazine published the image in a special Children’s Issue in 1990. Back in 1913, a story with this picture ran on the front page of the Gloucester Daily Times. The headline read: She Proved Herself a Dainty Performer in a Pretty Play. The story went on to say that Little Miss Clara Bray was the leading character in The Elf Child Pageant, an event held on the Addison Gilbert Hospital grounds to benefit the District Nurse Fund. Six-year-old Clara, along with other Riverdale children, performed for an audience of 900, including Mr. and Mrs. John Hayes Hammond, their guests, acclaimed playwright Charles Rann Kennedy and his wife Wyanne Matthison, who was a leading actress on stage and in silent films. The costumes were designed by Mrs. Palmer of Rocky Neck. Clara later married Delbert Andrews, foreman at the Rocky Neck Marine Railways, and raised their family in Gloucester. In 1954 at age 48, Clara modeled for Cover Girl Makeup, and, as an accomplished pianist, performed at the Riverdale Grange and Trinity Church. I’ve met five of Clara’s children: Arlene, Caroline, Marilyn, Geraldine, and Bonnie, all of whom cherish this photograph. Reverend Bonnie Goodwin, pastor of the Christian Union Church in Truro, MA, is a special friend to myself and the gallery. Bonnie told me last night that her mother always had a distinctive glint in her eyes, and that sparkle never left, even in times of hardship. Clara, the Elf Child, was buried in 1979 at Beechbrook Cemetery, in Gloucester. Remember your Mother’s Day.
Printed archivally from the original 5×7 inch glass negative in my darkroom. Image #A8857-437
Fredrik D. Bodin
Bodin Historic Photo
82 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930

9 thoughts on “Elf Child of Gloucester

  1. Hi Everyone- EJ is now posting my photos and the stories I write about them, which used to be posted by Sharon on Wednesday mornings. There is no regular weekly schedule yet, but hopefully there will be after Joey gets back. In the gallery, I’ve found that some people are freaked by the Elf Child picture, and are also scared by clowns. But 95% love the Elf, and many like her enough to buy it (the ultimate compliment). “Clara Bray ~ Elf Child” has appeared in LIFE magazine and other publications.


  2. I see this photo every time i enter my grandmother Caroline’s home & I love seeing it. Clara is my great grand mother.


  3. EJ and Fred- Thank you for the story behind this photo. I bought the postcard at Fred’s studio last Christmas, and I have it on my kitchen wall. I smile every time I see it, and have been curious about who she was!


  4. The elf child was my grandmother she was an amazing woman ,I loved hearing her play the piano as a child seeing her fingers glide over the keys it just amazed me And her eyes that smiled at you even before she did. I am very blessed to have had her s my grandmother!!!


Leaving a comment rewards the author of this post- add to the discussion here-

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s