Thursday, December 30, 2010

True Found Photography

This should be the last post for the next three or four days, which makes it the last for 2010, so I thought I'd end up with something more symbolic than visually interesting. This summer, June and July, I worked for the Census Bureau. In one of the older, run down apartment buildings I visited, I found these five snapshots. They were in the garbage that had been removed from a vacated unit. Most of my found photographs are found in thrift shops, antique malls, and EBay, but finding something that has been thrown out or left behind, well that doesn't happen often. I often wonder why people discard their old family photographs. These all have a printers stamp dated, "AUG 60," and 50 years isn't all that old. It's quite probable that the people in these photos are all still alive. Did the person who left these behind, after saving them for half a century, just give up on their memories of the past?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Was She a (Second Tier) Movie Star?

This small (2.5x4) photo was taken by a professional photographer or an advanced amateur with a home studio. Or...This woman looks very familiar. I went to the IMDB website and looked up pictures of a number of the second tier movie stars from the forties and fifties and didn't find a match. This could be a photo distributed by one of the fan clubs run by the movie studios to publicize the career of their contract players.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not More Crossdressers !

According to the man who sold me these images, they were all torn from the same photo album (I hate when dealers do that!) and he grouped these four photos together because they were all pictures of people in costumes. Other than that, he couldn't really remember anything about them. Any names, dates, or locations were probably lost when the album was taken apart. Looking over these four photographs, my first guess is that they weren't taken at the same time. None of the people in the three individual portraits appear in the group shot. Too, some of the people in the group shot are not in costume, the hair-dos on the women and the ties on the men seem to be thirties or possibly the forties, the woman dressed as a male navel officer looks to be sporting a World War 2 era uniform, while the solo shot of the woman in the clown costume is wearing a very old type of lace-up, heeled boots that date back to an earlier age. Maybe the teens or before. But why the costumes? Were these pictures taken from the photo album of an actor? Was it a family partial to costume parties? Amateur theatricals? Because the album was dismembered, we'll never know.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Women on the Trail

I'd love to know where this picture was taken. It looks like these four women, all in their long dresses, are on a well maintained hiking trail. The sort of thing that can be found near parking areas and picnic grounds in state and national parks. Labeled, "Hester Rheveusou, Elsie Tapley, Bessie Moore, & E. Harbon. 8/18/10"


Two strangely beautiful snapshots. These are home developed and printed photos by an unknown photographer who had a great sense of composition and a feel for shadow and light. Both are dated, "2/13/38." What is she wearing at her neck?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Los Angeles Border

I've got a lot of photos with decorative borders. By and large they have simple geometric patterns and since my primary interest is the photograph, I almost always crop them out when scanning. But, as an Angeleno, I had to include the border on this print. The top and bottom shows the peristyle, the ceremonial end of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, commissioned in 1921, opened in 1923, and used for the 1932 Olympics. The bears are for the California grizzly, the extinct symbol of the state. And I think some of those flowers are orange blossoms, and perhaps the California poppy, the state flower. And for those who still don't get the L.A. connection, there is the "LA" in the bear. Click on the image to blow it up and get a better look at the border detail. Got to love the short wave antenna.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


The reason so many old homes are so large is because room had to be made for staff quarters. From the late 19th to the early 20th century. People who think of those times as more civilized never think that they might have been the ones getting up at six in the morning to scrub the floors.

Affectionate Women Or?

This is a really interesting photograph. On one hand, it seems to show two affectionate women, but it also looks very staged, almost theatrical.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Army Wife

Labeled, "This isn't quite so bad but my nose-oh! Capt. Woodward, Capt. Young in their cabin May 4, 1948 aboard the U.S.A.T. General Simon B. Buckner from New York to Yokohama." The USSN General Simon B. Buckner was launched on June 4, 1944 and was named the Admiral Edward Walter Eberle and was used for troop and other personnel transport. In 1946 it was transferred to the U.S. Army and renamed the General Simon B. Buckner in honer of General Simon Bolivar Buckner the highest ranked officer killed in World War 2. He was killed by enemy artillery fire on Okinawa. The Buckner was returned to the Navy and active duty as a transport until it was decommissioned in 1999. This lady was most likely the wife of an officer assigned to occupation duty in post war Japan. It is also possible that she was a civilian administrator or support personnel.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Men Don't Make Passes... girls who wear glasses. Dorothy Parker was wrong. Labeled "Marguerite Rice (Martin) Knoxville 1949-50." I'm guessing that Martin is a maiden name and that she had no trouble attracting men with or without glasses. A very attractive lady who, if she is still alive, is probably around 85 or 90.

Who Is the Master?



Printed on postcard stock. Written on the back, "Master Carl Nugen Harfer, Kans." To the modern mind it reads like some sort of domination cult, but master very likely refers to school master. These may be three couples or the six teachers at a small, rural school in late nineteenth, early twentieth century Kansas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Trench Warfare

Again, I don't know a lot about commercial printing processes, but I think these are rotogravures. (Click on rotogravure in the labels section for other examples.) I picked up a group of these years ago before the photo lab went under, and I made a few copy negs and then went ahead and made conventional black & white photos from them. The trench shot is captioned, "Taking a look at Jerry. Officers and men of the 18th Inf., 1st Div., in the front line, Ansauville sector, Jan. 20, 1918." The snow picture, "Meanwhile, in the states, training was going forward at top speed. Cold! We'll say it was cold. The day in January 1918, when this picture was taken on the Kishwaukee range, Camp Grant, it was fifteen degrees below zero. These are hardy "Blackhawks" of the 343d Inf., Colonel Charles R. Howland commanding. In training the men of the 172d Brigade to which col. Howland's regiment belonged, Brig. Gen. Charles H. Martin rigorously insisted upon the shooting and discipline demanded by General Pershing. He had the earnest co-operation of his regimental commanders, Col. Howland and Col. Benjamin T. Simmons, and the friends of the brigade claimed that there were no finer soldiers in the National Army than those of the 172d Brigade. The training program never took cognizance of weather conditions. Some surprisingly good scores were made the day this picture was taken. We remember that Major Charles Collette made a perfect score at 700 yards. J.C.R." Unlike in World War 2 when military censorship only applied to facts that could jeopardize on going operations, in World War 1, president Wilson controlled the press and only allowed coverage that was supportive of the war effort. These images seem to be part of a press release. Note that on the trench picture, it's identified as an official photo of the Signal Corps.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Los Angeles Way Back When

I found this small collection locally, here in Los Angeles, and it really speaks to those times when people were coming to southern California in search of the good life. No dates on any of these images, but I would guess that they arc from the late twenties to the early thirties.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Home From the War

Drafted during World War 2, not knowing if they'd survive or not, a lot of guys got married before shipping out and came home to children they had never seen.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I run across these all the time; collections put together by dealers by theme, but otherwise not related. With my post of the flying family just a couple of clicks back, I thought it would be a good time to put up this aviation themed collection. As usual when purchasing a group like this, I'm drawn to some images more than others, and in some cases, I don't really have an interest in some of the pictures at all. But since I would prefer to err on the side of putting up too much rather than too little, I'm posting them all.
To be born in 1955 is to be interested in airplanes. World War 2 had only ended a decade earlier and movies of fighter pilots and bombing raids were still an entertainment staple. Jets had come along, but prop planes were still common commercial air carriers. When I was 14 in 1969 man walked on the moon. A 75 year old person in 1969 would have been nine when the Wright Brothers made their first flight at Kitty Hawk, and would have been old enough to have clear memories of the announcement that man had flown a powered craft for the first time. A fast progression of technology. And too, it didn't hurt that my mother was from England and built Minerva engines for Spitfires during the war.
The long shot of the control tower and terminal with the factory smoke stack to the right is labeled, "11/4/39 Broward Field Hartford, Conn." The two color photos are stamped, "THIS IS A KODACOLOR PRINT MADE BY EASTMAN KODAK EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY T. M. REGIS. U. S. PAT. OFF. Aug 20, 1948." Still flying prop planes out of a small airport. Note the cars parked on the edge of the tarmac. There is a date stamped on the picture of the two girls in the helicopter, MAY 1984" but that has to be when it was printed rather than taken. The hair is all wrong for the 80s. The picture that shows a few small planes lined up on a runway is stamped "AMERICAN PHOTO SERVICE NOV 9 1948." The photographer was clearly drawn to the sky since it's the main part of the composition. Written on the back of the Aviation Mechanics School with it's Army Air Force insignia, "Hanger 1510B we use it for school-we work inside, it's a pretty big place." The TWA wing tip, again a prop passenger plane, "Geneva." I suspect that the group picture wasn't taken at an airport but the plane in the background just barely qualifies it as an aviation themed photo, written in the margin, "Lorasine Schleminns, Bill Donlin, Gabriel Pea, Beth Donlin and Becky-Wash, D.C." The old lady with the leis, "Oct 9, 1950." This may have been her first flight. The group of people standing in front of the control tower, "Our group at the Lourdes, France airport before we left for Paris." And the plane on the grass field, "July 12, 1939 Bendix Airport. U. S. Army Bomber." I'm fascinated that so many of these people dressed up to fly. The last time I flew, I wore jeans and an old, comfortable shirt.