Monday, May 30, 2011

Steamed Crabs on Fisherman's Wharf, S.F.

Addressed to "Lois & Gil Yorba, 110-Morton Ave., Sierra Madre, Cal." This is the second postcard I have, sent to the Yorba family during World War 2. (Navigate back one to see the other.) The great depression and the war were great periods of internal migration in American history. The Yorba family had either family or friends who, at least, got to San Francisco and New York City. If they were like most Americans they knew people who spent time at a military training camp in some other part of the country, working at a war plant far from home, or overseas in Europe or the South Pacific. My father was born in 1919, dropped out of high school in the ninth grade because of the depression. He and his father ended up living in a dug out. (They dug out a flat spot on a hill side, pounded in some planking as a roof, shored it all up, and had an old rug for a door.) Then he ended up a homeless teenager, spending time with both the CCC and WPA. Then it was into the peace time army, then a few months after returning to civilian life, drafted into the war time army. As a cryptographer he never saw combat. but he did live in Iceland, England, France and then Germany. He thought that that was a good thing, and if it hadn't been for the depression and the war, he may have never got further than a few hundred miles from his small, home town.

"One of the principal industries of San Francisco is fishing, and centers around this point. From Fisherman's Wharf the fishing boats leave each morning to make their catches in shell fish and other sea foods. Here one may partake of the freshly caught ocean delicacies in one of the many outdoor stands or in the fine restaurants adjacent." Post marked, "SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF MAY 31 9:30 PM 1944" And the message, "Hello, We are simply eating ourselves in to a stupor but surely enjoying it. Going dancing at the Mark tonite. C you this weekend. Mary & Steve." And written in a different hand with a different ink, 'STAN HAS A NEW CADILLAC!" Of course since the auto industry had been turned over to war work, Stan had a used Cadillac new to him.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Pepsi Service Men's Center

Well, this is really irritating. Usually when I get an image that's a screened print, I can't get a decent scan, and the descreen setting, though it softens the picture, is a much better option. This time, however, I'm not really getting a clearly better result. Oh well, at least anyone who is interested in comparisons can see for themselves. This is the first of two cards I've picked up addressed to the Yorba family of southern California. "Center built and maintained by the Pepsi-Cola Company for the members of the Armed Forces of the United Nations, in co-operation with New York City Defense Recreation Committee." Post marked, "NEW YORK, N.Y. JUL 23 2-P.M. 1943." Addressed to "Mrs. Gilbert Yorba, 500 Orange Grove, Arcadia, California." And the message, "Dear Lois & Gil, Having a wonderful time. It's going to be hard to get down to business again. As ever, Herb." Interesting, during World War 2, members of the military had franking privileges with the U.S. Post Office. Basically, they could sign their names and write down their unit designation and get free postage. This card has been stamped, but it's from a military service center. Was Herb a civilian? And a final mea culpa, because this is a photography blog, I don't put up postcards that don't have a photographic base. I think this is a hand colored photo, though I'm a lot less sure than I usually am. And, I really prefer Dr. Pepper.

Friday, May 27, 2011


I run across these strip photographs from time to time and if anyone out there knows, are they made in camera or in the darkroom? Stamped on the back, "SCHREICK'S "CUTE" PHOTO STUDIO 202 1/2 N. High Street, COLUMBUS, -OHIO. DEC. 12, 1911" Hand written. "Oscar Krustf " Schreick's Photo Studio was founded by Frank X. Schreick in 1902 and remained open to 1979.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gun Culture

Typed on the back, "Teddy, and his new gun" I have mixed feelings about America's gun culture. I grew up in a small town with a tradition of hunting. When I was in high school, during small game season, many of my classmates brought rifles to school. And then I moved to a city and met lots of guys who thought that guns made them tough guys. Maybe Teddy was a hunter, maybe he grew up to be another Charlie Starkweather. Dated "MAR 58"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fun Times

Knowing the date of a photograph is always informative, but it can also be maddening. This bit of amateur cheesecake is dated 1940, the great depression was basically over, and while war had come to Europe and Asia, the United States was still at peace. Two years latter and these two young ladies could have been war workers at an aircraft plant, WAVES stitching up wounded marines in the south Pacific, or young widows. I'd love to know what happened to them, and not knowing is both the draw and frustration of snapshot collecting.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Two Couples From Youngstown, Ohio

All I know about this photo is that it's from Youngstown, Ohio and it's from the nineteenth century. Youngstown was a mill city on the Mahoning River, and while the wealthy of Youngstown couldn't compare to the rich from Pittsburgh or Cleveland, one could do well there. For a nice color postcard of boaters on the Mahoning River, go back to my post, Newton Falls, Ohio published on 5/3/11.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Kennedy For President

Dated 1963, my guess is that one of the people in this photograph, after the assassination, had it printed as a remembrance of their time as a Kennedy supporter.

Friday, May 20, 2011

City of Los Angeles

Heaven help me, I'm becoming a postcard collector. It's bad enough that I spend money I don't have on fifty year old snapshots, and now postcards! "The streamliners, City of Los Angeles, 39 3/4 hours between Chicago and Los Angeles, carry de luxe coaches, standard sleeping cars, dining cars, club and lounge cars. Ten round trips are made each month." Post marked, "OMAHA NEBR., BURLINGTON STATION JAN. 9 12:30 PM 1943" Addressed to, "Mrs. Mary Hackler, 805 Edw. Rd. Madison, Ill." And the message, "Just arrived in Omaha, Neb. 8:45 A.M. Sat. And talk about gravy without potatoes. I nearly got it, and no kidding. Just like a new world for me. Son, Willie." In 1943 I can think of only one way someone could nearly get it. Soldiers called it the million dollar wound. Bad enough to get sent home and out of the army, but not bad enough to be permanently disabling.

And I'm convinced I recognize the location that the original photo that is the basis of this card was taken. About half way down the Cajon Pass above San Bernardino.

The German Couple

I almost didn't put up this nice studio portrait because of the prints textured surface. I had to use the descreen setting on the scanner, losing some of the sharpness. So, why is that I have so many pictures from Germany? Is it just a coincidence, or did German immigrants to the United States treasure their photographs more than immigrants from other countries? A question that will never be answered. Stamped on the back, "Foto Dickopf, das Fachgeschaft in Siegburg." I think that means Photos by Dickopf, at the department store in Siegburg. Any German speakers out there, please feel free to correct my translation.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

We Will Never Say Goodbye in Heaven

Well, I know how it was done. The printer wrote his message on a clear piece of film, sandwiched it on the bottom of the negative. The ink, probably black, then printed white. What I don't know is why he made some of his N's backwards. Click on the image to see it in a bigger window, if necessary. Printed on postcard stock. What a way to announce that Uncle Harry had kicked the bucket.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Makes a Great Cabinet Card Part 2?

Yesterday I asked the question, with millions to choose from, what makes a great cabinet card. Well, here is an example. The photographer, M.J. Streuser from Bellevue, Iowa had a great eye for composition, the subject matter, a group of guys out having a good time, the sense of movement one gets from Arnie brandishing his club. Wow. I feed the name M.J. Streuser into Google, not expecting much, and found another example of his work on the Cowan Auctions site, of a photographer and his assistant posing with their wares. Probably a self portrait and it was wonderful too. I really recommend that others visit and take a look. The very first post I put up on this blog was a group of prints I made from a set of glass negs, all from the same photographer, and the thought of picking up more Streuser prints, well it's the same. Written on the back, "Arnie, Geo. Zentiner, Frank Kegles, Charles Hartley, Ed Kamp, Phil, Joe Brandt, From one of Arnie's birthdays." Go punch in M.J. Streuser into Google before the Cowan Auctions site takes down the cabinet card I mentioned, and please use the archives section to the right to navigate back to Montana Glass Negatives, pubished on June 9. 2009.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What Makes a Great Cabinet Card?

There are millions of cabinet cards out there, so why buy one over another? A great pose, interesting face, unique clothing or a particular skill on the part of the photographer are all great reasons to buy an image. Sometimes, as was the case with this card, it's the back. I saw all of the medals and assumed that photographer Dabbs was a multi award winner, but when I got home and looked at them with a lens, I was a bit surprised. Three are identical logos for The Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society, three are basically advertising marks, a couple of things in Latin that could be anything and one, and only one, award medallion. Well, I guess that means that false advertising is nothing new. It reminds me of the old story of how P.T. Barnum got people to move out of his venues. He put up big signs that said "This way to the Egress." Egress is just a fancy way of saying, this way out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The German American Collection, Cabinet Cards and CDVs

Here's the story on this collection. I bought it from an online dealer from Florida. He had picked up a large group of photos, albums, and ephemera from an estate, sold of a number of images, separately, and then took what was left and put together some lots for sale. I tried to buy a number of these groupings, and this was the only one I was able to get. There are some really nice photos, some dull ones, and some that are just plain bad. Because I think context is important, I'll eventually put all of them on line, but because so much of it is missing from the collection, I'll be putting them up intermittently, rather than all at once. Because I have some photos taken in Germany I've decided to label them all The German American Collection. Not a lot of labeling on these ones. The old man has a studio mark, "L. Rogers, PHOTOGRAPHER, TARRYTOWN, N.Y." Written, "Pops mothers father-Lewis" The young boy, "Seeley, 292 Main Street, Po'keepsie, N.Y." and written, "Katie Mortimer" And no, that's not a mistake, he's identified as Katie.

Charge With Brass

Fiorello LaGuardia, progressive Republican (Now there's an oxymoron!) mayor of New York City, while born in New York spent most of his childhood in Prescott, Arizona where his father was military bandmaster at nearby Fort Whipple. Before radio, television and the Internet, a talented bandmaster was worth his weight in gold at isolated military outposts. Bored soldiers far from home was not a good combination. Click on musicians in the labels section to bring up a photo of a World War 1, AEF military band as well as shots of small town coronet bands. Printed on postcard stock.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Study In Knees

No, not those knees. "STUDY IN KNEES AT CYPRESS GARDENS Cypress knees come up from the roots of the trees in fantastic and gnarled shapes but never grow to be trees, only acting as breathers, the same as leaves do on other trees." Addressed to "Ralph Lerch, Granite City, Illinois. U.S.A." And the written message, "Here's a little still study in art that you might like. Beautiful scenery & stuff on the beach. Boy they sure give you some service in Miami. A fellow comes out every few minutes and gives you the run down on the horse races and takes your bets while you're lying in the sand. See you all latter. Kindest regards to Fran, Frankie and yourself. Al Lehman" The funny thing is that this postcard has Cuban stamps and no post mark, so it looks like Al took the boat to Havana and did some more drinking, gambling, and maybe hit a brothel or two, then never mailed the card.


I've always thought of Las Vegas as the place that nice middle class Americans go to sin in safety. Miami and Havana, both mob cities in the forties and fifties, could have been a little more dicey for Al Lehman. He might have been one of the many low level gangsters who made some cash during prohibition who then went semi-legit with a night club, illegal gambling in the back room, and a couple of girls who sat at the bar and cut in the house for a percentage of their earnings. Miami and Havana would have represented the big time to him. Then again, he might have been a nice respectable guy who wanted a bit of fun that would impress Ralph Lerch. What a great name.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Strange Girls Get Strange Borders

What's up with Blogger? I'm redoing this post because the service was down for a couple of days and when it came back up, my last effort had been deleted. Too, I've only got 16 of 'em, but the followers section has vanished into the ether. Anyway, as I wrote a couple of days ago, these three girls probably appeared quite ordinary when this photo was taken, but to my eye, they remind me of three young stars of a slasher movie. The girl on the left is the dupe, the one on the right is the psycho killer and the center girl is the manipulator who gets the other two to do her evil bidding. And those weird borders make it even more spooky. When I worked in the photo lab, I had cut out a number of masks from black construction paper to give prints uneven borders, something that a couple of our clients liked. Printed on postcard stock. Early twentieth century, I'd bet.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dead Animals On My Neck

Those who know that I'm an avid hiker, backpacker, and all around lover of the great outdoors find it difficult to believe that I have nothing against hunting or the wearing of fur. When I was a child some of the older ladies in my home town still wore the old style fox wraps with the fox biting it own tail, somewhat like the one in this photo. Were they designed to to unbite? Stamped on the back, "From WHITING'S STUDIO JUNCTION CITY, KANSAS." Thinking of Frank Zappa?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Miss Rathburn

Written on the back, "Miss Rathburn. Pacific School, Seattle, Wash." When this picture was taken, teaching was about the only profession a woman could enter. For some odd reason, being a married woman was considered a bad example for the children. My first grade teacher (1960), Miss Snyder was born in the nineteenth century and never married. I wonder if she thought it was a good deal.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thank You Very Much

A couple of photos of a lady who takes her camera everywhere taken by someone who takes his camera everywhere. And that's why I have so many old photos in my collection. Thank you to all the camera bugs out there. I own a number of old box cameras and most of them will work with 120 film. They don't take very good pictures, though.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Einstein In Reno

When I first picked up this card, I thought I saw the profile of Albert Einstein. (On the right side of the card next to the lady with the red hat.) But as we all know, Albert Einstein dismissed the possibility of time travel, and since the gentleman in question looks like portraits I've seen of Al circa 1910, it can't be him. Printed on the back, "This is the largest gaming establishment in Nevada." And, "PUB. BY SIERRA NEWS CO., RENO, NEVADA. NATURAL COLOR POST CARD MADE IN U.S.A. BY E. C. KROPP CO., MILWAUKEE, WIS.-(DBL)" Of course Albert Einstein could have been wrong about time travel.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On Leave

Every time I see a picture of a man in uniform, especially if it's from the World War 2 era, I wonder if it was the last time he was photographed. The odds are this sailor returned from the war, got a job, got married, and fathered a couple of kids. But with over 400,000 American war dead, this photograph might have been the final keepsake of a gold star mother.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Newton Falls, Ohio

Just so you know: My rule on postcards is that it has to have a photographic base. While it's obvious that some of the elements of this image have been added by hand, I'm reasonably certain that the original was a black & white photograph.

Addressed to "Mis F. Johnston, Springfield, Ohio, 117 Rici St." The message, "Dear Sister, I was down to mother's this P.M. & she is wondering why you don't write. Now do write to her soon as she longs to hear from yu. We are all well. Hope you are too. V." I think V must have chosen this card because his sister was spending way too much time on the Mahoning River doing whatever young ladies do on the Mahoning River. "PUBLISHED BY F. H. MATTES, NEWTON FALLS, OHIO. MADE IN U. S. A."

Strange Hat, Weird Mustache

A heart shaped hat and a pencil mustache. They must have been quite the couple. Printed on 5x7 inch paper, not a snapshot size, so I'm guessing that pencil mustache guy had a home darkroom.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dot Wenzel, World's Smallest Entertainer

In 1950, Dot Wenzel married Don Williams and began performing under the name Dottie Williams. Dot and Don were both members of Nate Eagle's Hollywood Midget Movie Stars troupe. She was a singer and dancer, billed as The Miniature Rita Hayworth. I did a search on IMDB, and couldn't find a single screen credit for either Dot Wenzel or Dottie Williams. If there are any recordings of her I'd love to hear them. Printed on postcard stock.