Ethel and Edith were the names that most people settled on for these two women dressed up to go out in the cold with nice coats and "perfect" hates. At first most people thought they were sisters but the more we studied the photo and the more we thought about ideas it was decided that Ethel was the Mom (one person thought she was the Aunt--but the Aunt that raised the girl).
1918 or so in the winter was the time. Edith's brothers both died of the flu and so Ethel bought her a nice coat and a near matching hat so they could go to the funeral which had to be quick so no one else would get sick. The flu killed a lot of people in 1918--mostly boys so this photo is quite possibly related to that.
We asked how many of the 11 group members knew someone who died of the flu back then--everyone but one man knew one or more people who died. It was a terrible time and having a nice coat kept you warm and maybe healthy and the hats gave the women a chance to show their sadness but also their stylishness. Even with death all around one had to do things that made you know you were alive and had better days coming.
Ethel was a good Mom and she taught Edith important things about being a woman and maybe someday a Mom. If she did become a mom and had boys she would name them after her brothers who died from the flu.