Friday, February 5, 2016

Long Beach Album Photo, The Second Side

Perhaps it's actually the first side.

This one's captioned, "Gwendolyn Ljunggren. Day she left for Waukegan-Ills."

When I get a name that's pretty common, I don't bother  doing any research.  If I ran "Mary Jones" I'd probably get a thousand hits on Goggle.  But Gwendolyn Ljunggren begs for a quick trip to Goggle land.

The first problem with searching for a woman is that they have a tendency to get married and take their husband's name, so it was no surprise that the only direct reference to a Gwen Ljunggren, in Los Angeles, that I found was a marriage record.  It didn't have a date, but Gwen's husband, Theodore Pretz was listed as head of household in the 1930 census.  His birth year was listed as 1906, and Gwen was listed as being 18 years old, giving her a birth year of 1912.  The photo on the other side of this picture was dated 1914.  I'm not very good at estimating the age of children, but I'd say four or five, so it's the right era.  And, since I wasn't willing to provide a credit card number to, that was it as far as Gwendolyn went.

As for Theodore, his profession was listed as furniture salesman.  I also found out that he was a Marine in World War 2.  Let's say he joined up in 1942, which means he was running the obstacle  course at 36.  That's pretty old for that sort of duty.   He died in 1957.   Pretty young.

Of course, just because Gwendolyn Ljuggren is a rare name, it doesn't follow that this Gwen became Mrs. Theodore Pretz.  Perhaps she changed her name to Mary Jones and disappeared into the vast digital wasteland.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Long Beach Album Photo, Side One

Over the years, I have often written about my displeasure when antique dealers cut up photo albums.  Well it's time to do it again.  Please, I know you can make more money selling individual photos but come on, there's history here that should be preserved as a whole.

So back to this photo.  It's been cut from an album.  It's still pasted to a section of the page.  There's another photo on the other side, which well be the next post.  This one is captioned, "Red Star Yeast, Long Beach, Cal. 1914."  I doubt that this man was an employee of the company.  I looked it up, and the star on the man's bathing suit looks just like the one on the Red Star Yeast logo.  Just speculation, but I'm guessing that this album was put together by a woman, because, what man would see that star and think of baking.  Well a baker maybe, but the handwriting is kind of fine and delicate.

Is that the photographer's thumb?

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Speed Trial Scene

This is not a commercial postcard.  Some sailor, stationed on an unknown warship, took a photo and had a postcard made up for his own use.  What, no patriot act violation?  No damage done to national security?  No classified image in need of censoring?   Hard to believe, but there was a time when soldiers and sailors took pictures and sent them home for all to see.

Here's a fun fact.  One of the most influential men in world history was an American naval officer named Alfred Thayer Mahan.  Who?  Mahan was an instructor at the Untied States Naval Academy at Annapolis.  While there, he gave a series of lectures that he latter published as a book called, "The Influence of Sea Power on World History, 1660-1783."  Mahan's thesis was that great nations could only exist through sea power.  Specifically he cited the British Empire.  His book was read and studied all over the world.

 One of  Thayer's many disciples was Kaiser Wilhelm 2.  Germany, as a unified nation, didn't exist before the Franco-Prussian War.  The first Kaiser Wilhelm, and his chancellor, Otto von Bismark, saw Germany as a continental power, an industrial nation with an army so  large and powerful,  that  other European countries would think twice before challenging German might.  Willy the second read Mahan and dreamed of a large and modern fleet of warships, spanning the globe, acquiring colonies.  The British weren't exactly in love with  the growing German fleet, so they increased the size and power of their fleet.  And, an arms race was on.  There were other factors, of course, but the growing distrust between the two nations was one of the causes of World War 1, which, of course, led to World War 2, the rise of the Soviet state, and a whole lot of other problems that we're still dealing with.  I'd recommend Dreadnought by Robert K. Massie for far more info than I'm willing to type.

And in the United States.  Think naval expansion and the Great White Fleet, sent around the world by President Theodore Roosevelt as a sign of American power.  I suspect the ship in this card might have been part of that fleet.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

That New Car Smell

It's a Plymouth, and it has a 1940 California licence plate.  I did a bit of searching, and I think it's a Plymouth Special Deluxe Sedan.  One hell of a car.  A year or so latter, and war time gas rationing would have kept it in the garage.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Good Life In California

This is how I imagined things as a kid,  way back east, in coal country, western Pennsylvania.   I thought Californians lounged by the pool when they weren't at the beach, surfing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fine Outside Dinning With Puppies

Yes there are puppies in this photo.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


I didn't buy this one for the people.  I bought it because of the background.  Those tanks and that large valve, I think, are from an oil field.  Today, few people realize that Los Angeles was once the largest oil operation in the country.  Wells could be seen all over the area.  From Santa Monica to Beverly Hills to the valleys, oil was pumped out of the ground.

Right now, one of the largest environmental disasters in American history is going on in L.A.  One of those depleted oil fields was converted for use as a natural gas storage facility.  It's leaking.  Since October, tons and tons of methane have been spewing into the atmosphere.  Best case scenario, the leak will be fixed sometime in February.  The worst case scenario, who knows.