Friday, April 29, 2011

Surge Electrobrain!

An advertising postcard from the Surge Dairy Equipment Company. "It's here! The Electrobrain Surge Pipe Line Washer that washes, rinses and sanitizes at just one push of a button!" About forty years ago I had a summer job at a dairy farm. I cleaned things with a shovel, not a push button. Those interested in a history of the Surge Bucket Milker can go to

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Finding Your Niche

Nice picture but the message on the back is better. "A small corner of the biggest job of my life. Just the niche I've always wanted. Pat, Kathy and Me." Who wouldn't want to find their niche?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On the Porch Steps

I'm guessing from the late thirties to early/mid-forties. Note the palm fronds in the background. Perhaps from Florida or southern California.

Mt. San Jacinto, 1943

Hand franked, "Hubert G. Cain, U.S. Navy, Columbia, Mo." Addressed to "Mrs. J.H. Cain, 201 So. Wright St., Champaign, Ill." The message, "Hi Folks, Well I arrived here Sat. at 12 o'clock. I am doing Los Angeles now. I have to take the 3:15 train and it's after one now. I'll write a letter as soon as I get an address. Jigs" Franking is a signature or mark placed on a piece of mail that allows the sender free service. Jigs could be a nickname or it could mean Lieutenant, Junior Grade. Mt. San Jacinto now has an aerial tram that goes to a state park at the peak. Navigate back one to see another Cain family postcard

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cable Cars of 1939

Postmarked, "SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. SEP. 29, 3:30 PM 1939" Addressed to "Miss Ruth Cain, 201 S. Wright St., Champaign, Ill." Message, "Hello every body, How is everything in Champaign and surrounding territory? I've been up here for a convention. Here another week then back to Los Angeles. You would love these funny little cable cars. Pretty hills here to climb. Hope all are well. Love, Fairmont Hotel, San Fransisco, Calif." Another Cain family postcard to follow.

Mrs. Arciaga

What's the difference between an original and a reproduction in a medium that's designed to be endlessly reproducible? Most art dealers would say that a photograph printed after the death of the photographer is a reproduction, but if the photographer didn't do his own printing, is there really a difference? A first, second, and in many cases a third generation copy negative will be almost indistinguishable from the camera original. The original of this image would have been a black & white photograph that had been hand tinted to add color. Judging by the condition and dried tape on the back of this print, it's very old, but it's printed on color paper. Some time in the past, probably at least forty or fifty years ago, someone wanted a copy of this image, so they went to a photo lab, had a color copy neg and print made. Written on the back, Mrs. M Arciaga, 573-18th, San Pedro, Cal."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Summer of 1919

Not from Halloween, just playtime.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Automotive Tintye

This one is a bit of a rarity. The tintype was first described in 1853, and quickly, at least in the United States, became a huge commercial success. It was the first really cheap photographic medium and allowed ordinary people to have portraits made. Too, because most tintypes were small, because they were very durable, they could be carried around and mailed to family and friends with out having to put them in hard, protective cases. But, the tintype began to loose it's popularity by the late 1870's. The carte de visite and cabinet card, both of which had the advantage of being reproducible, took over the market. Of course, some tintypists continued to practice their trade. This tintype of five people sitting in a car was probably taken in the first decade of the twentieth century.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


At first glance, I thought this was a photograph of a very young, World War 1 era soldier. After taking a second look, I'm leaning more towards boy scout. Scouting was founded by the sometimes controversial British general and aristocrat, Lord Robert Baden-Powell. With his military background, it was only natural that he would outfit the scouts in uniforms, which were often similar to the military kit of the scout's home country.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The 1931 Polytechnic Tour to Grindelwald, Switzerland 8

The last from this album, and I would really recommend that anyone interested should navigate back to part one, and view things in order. There was some non photographic ephemera, maps, and brochures, in the back of the album, and while I was able to get most of it scanned, when a rip in the Simplon map started to get bigger, I gave up on further scans. The last three maps in this post, top to bottom, should read as the actual map reads. There are two postcards in this post, but the second, the one in black & white, was pasted into the album, so if it was sent and there was a message on the back, we'll never know. The other is addressed to "Miss Violet Grey, Freeman Street, Wells-on-Sea, Norfolk, England" The message, "Hotel Schweizerhof Zermatt Switzerland Wednesday So sorry that you've not been well. Would have visited you at Norwich had I known in time. Last week, we went to this Blue Lake near Kandersteg where the Scout's Jamboree was held. It's even more blue than the P. Card. We came here last Sunday. Zermatt is a mountain village, very cold & bracing.-Love Ron Pye" Well, Violet Grey and Ron Pye are great names, and this is the only card not sent by either Eve or Jim. So, we have Jim and Eve, probably too old to be students, judging by their pictures, so they're probably staff or faculty at the polytechnic, from Norwich in Norfolk, a county in England. The best candidate for the actual school would be The King's Lynn Technical School, founded in 1894, renamed The Norfolk College of Arts and Technology in 1973. After merging with several other local colleges, in 1998, it was again renamed, this time The College of West Anglia. And Jim and Eve? It's a good bet they were in some sort of relationship. Did it lead to marriage, or not? Anyone out there who might know are invited to leave a comment.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The 1931 Polytechnic Tour to Grindelwald, Switzerland 7



It looks like the Polytechnic faculty has left Grindelwald for a side trip. The only postcard in this post is addressed to "Mrs. R. A. Rowe, Norwich Rd. Norwich, Norfolk, Angleterre." The message, "Lucerne, Dear M., Just a day trip here-Having a lovely time -we arrive Victoria about 5 pm on Sunday. I will be home Monday about 3.30 (Norwich) Having lovely weather. Blazing sunshine today-lots to tell you. Jim." With only a few days until the trip is over Ja has gone back to his actual name. Is Ja a nickname or initials, or maybe he was trying to say yes in German. The Hotel Pilatus Klum is another Swiss hotel at the end of a cog railway. This one the steepest line in Europe. It was built in 1890 and is still open. The Graf Zeppelin was built in 1928, just three years before this trip. It flew over a million miles, made 590 flights, 144 ocean crossings, and carried 13, 100 passengers before being retired in 1937, just a month after the Hindenburg disaster. It was scrapped in 1940.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The 1931 Polytechnic Tour to Grindelwald, Switzerland 6

I love to hike and backpack, and when I go off into the mountains or across the desert, I prefer not to see other people. And while I've run into some interesting ruins, I also would rather not see man made structures. When I look at old photos, I like to see people, things, and buildings, so I'm happy to get past the scenery of the last two posts. The pictures of the trains are of the Jungfraubahn, a narrow gauge, cog railway with only five stations, Kleine Scheidegg, Eigergletschen, Eigernordwand, Eismeer, and Jungfraujoch, the highest railroad station in Europe. Construction started in 1912, and was finished in 1924. In 1931 a research station and observatory opened at Jungfraujoch. Perhaps that's why the Polytechnic faculty decided to vacation in Switzerland. Look at the second separate image. It's Eve, of course, but who is the man? My guess is that her companion, Jim, handed the camera to a fellow tourist and asked for a snap.