Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why Is This Man Showing Leg?

I have a confession to make. I'm 56 years old and I've never been bowling. I've never even been in a bowling alley. I've seen people bowl on television and in the movies, which allowed me to recognize the bowling score card the man is holding, but I have no idea how to keep score. So why is this man showing leg? Is it part of a bowling ritual? Does the loser have to show off a shapely calf? Or maybe it's the winner that has to flaunt a little skin. Or maybe he rolled a zero and was trying to make an excuse. "Look, I hurt my knee on the back swing, and that's why I didn't hit anything." Written on the back, "Roy Scocu 1/20/53"

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Missing Limey-The Baker Family 5

Okay, just for the record, I happen to like the winter scene, even though it's out of focus and not well exposed. Once again, we have a reference that may tie the Bakers to England, even though the actual photo is no longer there. "Another Limey" indeed. My mother was a war bride from England and she hated the term limey. Of course, she also thought the Irish were too stupid to govern themselves, the French were all sexual perverts, and we Americans were crude people who didn't deserve independence. And yes, she became an American citizen. I promise, the pictures will get better before the Baker Family collection is done.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

One Page, One Photo, One Loose Photo-The Baker Family 4

I think of these as the Baker family collection because the seller told me they came from a photo album owned by someone named Baker. This page has the only reference to the Bakers, a caption for a missing photo. "THE OLD BUS. Baker's Pride-the Driver." The little girl is Janet Sturrock, a relative? I know a lot of people don't understand my practice of publishing everything from a collection. After all, the loose photo is so out of focus as to be almost unrecognizable, but something is written on the back that, at least to me, is interesting. "Canton 1925." Eventually there will be pictures from Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, Brighton, perhaps New York, but just as likely Brighton, England. There will be references to another Limey, and an aunt from Australia. These people got around, which makes me wonder. Is that Canton, Ohio or Canton, China? Canton, China had a large European community, and within it's gated communities, Europe was recreated. A picture taken there would look just like one taken in England. Sure, the odds are overwhelming that the blurred final image is from Ohio, but when the English are involved, when the empire was still somewhat intact, one can never be certain.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Doug and Bill Out of Focus-The Baker Family 3

Even though Doug and Bill are out of focus, the wagon they're playing with is still quite a sight to see. I'm glad I don't collect old toys, as this photo would send me off in search of old wagons. I can't afford storage anymore, and I'm running out of room.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Defining Things-The Baker Family 2

How would I categorize this collection? Well, I've got some loose pages from a trashed photo album, so photo album, of course. I've got photos labeled Brighton, possibly Brighton, New York, but having been there, I'm thinking Brighton, England. I've got other images of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, so immigration, vacation, maybe multi-national. But the real telling thing for me is that some images are dated from the mid twenties and others from the mid-thirties. Boom times to great depression. What drives me crazy as a collector is that those utterly devastated by the great depression didn't take pictures because they no longer owned cameras. This is one time when snapshots don't really tell a good story. Looking at photos from the great crash to World War 2, one would think that everything was right as rain. That there were no bread lines, shanty towns, or homeless teenagers wandering the roads of America.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What Kind Of Collector Are You?-The Baker Family 1



I once met a man who only collected photographs that included the photographer's shadow. I've also met collectors that limited themselves to complete albums, and strangest of all, a woman who would only own 100 vintage postcards at one time. If she found something she had to have, and it was number 101, something had to go from the collection to stay at that magic number. While I'll collect just about any type of photographic image or any subject matter, I'm always looking for context. Can I relate it to some period of history, or are there enough images, grouped together, that I can imagine some sort of story, even if I know that my suppositions are very likely wrong. Too, and this is the sickness, I'm the sort of collector who worries that if I don't preserve some odd insignificant image, no one else will, and it will be lost forever.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Times Square

I always like a bit of validation. I know that many of the old linen postcards had a photographic base, but it's only when there is an actual photo credit that I can be 100% sure that the image belongs on a photo blog. Ewing Galloway was a Kentucky lawyer who became bored with his profession, turned to journalism, and eventually ended up as the photo editor at Collier's Magazine. In 1920, he opened his own photo agency. It was successful enough that by 1928, he had offices in New York, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, London, Berlin, and Amsterdam. Galloway himself, was not a photographer. The Ewing Galloway credit on the bottom margin of this card refers to the agency. Because the agency did not keep detailed records of who took what picture, we'll never actually know the name of the photographer who took the picture that was the basis for this card. A portion of the Ewing Agency collection ended up at Syracuse University. For more detailed info go to www.library.syr.edu/digital/guides/g/galloway_e.htm No photos available there, but there are lots of commercial galleries selling Galloway images that can be found on line. As far as the back of the card goes. I scanned it in so I could blow it up and try and decipher some of the mess. Mailed to Cincinnati from the Grand Central Annex. Not much, but it allowed me to make a guess that there is a reference for getting home some time today. Too, I think there is a reference to having gone up in something. Perhaps the Akron, a military airship. And of course it is signed Winifred something. Maybe Blowfind. I'll bet the colorist added the airplane.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The German American Collection, Althea Hope Risebake

Written on the back of the school photo in a childish hand, "Althea Hope Risebake" Stamped, "SCHOOL PROJECTS PHOTO CO. 309 MAIN ST. ORANGE, N.J. Tel. OR. 5-5286 Res. OR. 5-5622."


The problem I'm having with the German American collection (Click on German American in the labels section to get more information and more images.) is that it's so broken up it's almost impossible to build a real narrative of this family. What I do know is that a German family immigrated to the United States and made a life in New York and New Jersey. These two pieces both have education as a theme, but they don't come from the same time or place. Was the District Number 13 souvenir tag from the Andes, New York School District given to the child of a German immigrant, and a parent of Althea Hope Risebake, or was it given to someone born and raised in the U.S. who would eventually marry into that immigrant family? Was Althea born in Germany, struggling to learn English along with her math and geography, while her American born class mates made fun of her accent? Of course, when this picture was taken, an accent may have been common in this school. While it's frustrating not to know, it also allows for a freedom of speculation that makes collecting old photos endlessly fascinating. .

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Three Bears Number 500

Here's my dilemma. I love to hit the road. When I have the money, I don't have the time. When I have the time, I don't have the money. Back in the old days when I was still working at the photo lab, I had to squeeze everything into a three week vacation. Every three of four years, I would go to the Olympic peninsula in Washington state to go backpacking. I'd leave Los Angeles right after work, drive as far north as I could and sleep along side the interstate. At Portland, after a stop at Powell's Books (Book lovers should go to their website.), I'd drive out to Astoria on the Pacific coast and then drive to Olympic National Park. I've been there at least a dozen times, and every trip it either rained or snowed. I loved it. And then a ferry trip to Victoria, across the sound, a stop at Seattle. Minor league baseball on the way home. What else could I ask for?

On the back of the picture of the lady with the ocean in the background, "At Mora on Pacific Ocean, Sept 6, 1927." The sea stacks, "Rocks & Breakers at Mora, Sept. 1927." and the lady with the two bears, a bit of humor, "Three Bears near Forks, Wash. Sept. 1927." In 1927 it was still Mt. Olympus National Monument, created by Theodore Roosevelt in 1909. His relative, President Franklin Roosevelt, in 1938, signed legislation making it Olympic National Park.

This is my 500th post. Believe me, I had no idea it would go on this long.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brownies, and Not the Kind You Eat

When I was in grade school, I was expelled from the Cub Scouts for being an atheist. After a meeting with the scout master and a local minister, it was determined that I was a bad influence on my fellow ten year olds and should be separated from the pack before I contaminated them with my heretical ways. I wonder if all these young girls turned out to be the type of citizen that scouting hopes to create, or...Do we have a future member of the Weather Underground in this photo? It's dated "2/20/57" so they're the right age to have grown up to be student radicals. Future members of a commune? Drug or alcohol problems? Lesbian? In 1957 scouting would have been looking to make good, future moms and housewives, so maybe CEO, or member of Congress? Who knows?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Camp Grant

"Social "Mixer"-Service Club, Camp Grant, Ill. Dancing at the Camp Grant Service Club is enjoyed by every soldier. All types of entertainment are to be had here; include books, concerts, amateur shows, radio broadcasts, and impromptu gatherings. The Service Club houses one of the most modern cafeterias in the middle west, and offers a haven for the army man who wants "something to do" or merely wants to sit down and write a letter to the folks back home." Addressed to "Mr. Thomas Schiller, 1201 Meridian, Granite City, Ill." The message, "Dear Tom, Boy is it dead around. I sure miss home and that Good old Beer. Otherwise camp is swell. I think I am going to like the army. your Pal Ralph." Postmarked "2 ROCKFORD, ILL AUG 28 12:30 PM 1943." During World War 2, military personnel had hand franking privileges that allowed them to use the mails for free. The post office put a cancellation, an ad for war bonds, that partly obscures the soldiers name, and it's a shame because I can make out a last name with over twenty letters. This is what I can make out, "Pvt. Ralph Pasyustd (and then rest is obscured.) Co. E Bx T160 SU. U.S. Army, Camp Grant, Ill." Poor Ralph, he's bored, misses home and his favorite beer. But still, he thinks he's going to like the army. Well, it's not like he had much of a choice. In World War 2, once in the military, you were in for the duration.
About Camp Grant. It was built on land outside Rockford, Illinois in 1917, and was decommissioned in 1921. It was used by the Illinois National Guard from 1924-35, and housed CCC workers from 1934-35. It was reopened in 1940 when the peace time draft came in, and closed after the war in 1945. Today, the site of Camp Grant is now the Chicago Rockford International Airport. From Sept. 23 to Oct. 1, 1918, over 1,000 soldiers died in the great flu pandemic that swept the world. For more info on Camp Grant, go to http://www.campgrant.org/

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Pre-Steroid Era

I bet he was working on his tan. I was a comic book addict as a kid, and in the back of all the Spider Man, Fantastic Four and X-Men comics there were these ads for Charles Atlas. Atlas claimed that he was a skinny, bullied kid who took up weight lifting and the bullies left him alone after he muscled up, and for just pennies a month he could teach us all his secrets. Too, he got all the girls. Just like Arnold, and look where that got him.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Making the Unnatural Look Natural

Isn't that what photography is about? Black & white, static poses, selective focus, glossy surfaces. Making something unnatural represent the real world in a way that people see as real life. No one has skin tones like the lady in this photo, but a good colorist can make his subject seem, not just beautiful but warm and inviting. Written on the back, "mail with bell."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

James Joyce Did Not Invent the Stream of Consciousness

So why am I posting this faded, poorly exposed, barely recognizable postcard? Some times it's the message on the back that counts. "Dear Minnie thank you so much for your nice card i was surprise to hear that Jamie was married I hope she wil be very happy married give my love to the children and donel I do hop you are all well a very happy Easter aunt Jane is much the sam as usual Minnie her eldest doghter is home for a holliday I hope she will come here to spend easter with my your loving aunt G Brown 13 willowood Park" Not a single bit of punctuation, and I think because it was written so fast, irregular spelling and capitalization. James Joyce would be envious.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The German American Collection, The Wedding Picture

Again, I bought the butt end of an estate collection. A dealer had sold a number of photos individually, and then put everything else on-line in a couple of lots. This was the one I was able to get. Because it's all such a mish-mash, I'm putting things up when I get around to it with no real time table. Basically, when it gets done, it gets done. This photo, and what's left of an old photo album which is a long way from being posted, is why I'm calling it the German American collection. Stamped on the back, "Photohaus Karl Borft, Hieben, Bahnhofftr. 63" Well, my German is pretty bad and some of the letters were in the old style, Gothic script, which I often find confusing, but here goes. Photohaus is pretty obvious, so let's say Karl Borft's photo studio. I know that banhof is a station, so I'm guessing that the added tr. makes it a train station. I am confused about hieben though. I ran it through Google translate and got "cut down" and that makes no sense to me whatsoever. I hope this couple got out of Germany before the 1930's. Click on German American in the labels section to get the other parts that are available for viewing.

A Hand Comes Into the Frame

In the past I've noted that I don't really care for pictures of babies. The truth is they all look alike to me. And while we're on the subject of infants; Moms, if you're kid is too young to walk, talk, and too young to stop slobbering, please don't plop him on my lap and ask me to admire his chubby cheeks. Anyway, I can imagine the photographer crying out, "If you want a picture of the damn kid stop him from bouncing around all the time." And so the mother's hand creeps into the frame and holds the swing steady. Taken with a view camera.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Two Girls, One Boy

My best guess is that this picture was taken in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century and what a future these children would face. Let's assume that these three kids are children of an American middle class. All children of the poor and working classes were raised to eventually make a living, but for the middle class and the wealthy, girls were raised to make a marriage. They would have been given an education that would have given them a certain amount of charm, wit, and grace. Perhaps it would have included a women's college, perhaps not. Boys would have been raised to their father's business, a true career, and membership in an appropriate club. But things change. These three would have faced World War 1, a flu pandemic that may have killed as many as 100,000,000 people in eighteen months. Then the roaring twenties, probably the period of greatest social change in the last 100 years. Then the great depression, 30 % unemployment at a time when most women didn't work which probably would translate into 50 % unemployment by today's standards. Then World War 2, and if these three kids were born no earlier than the 1890s, there was a decent chance that, at the least, they lived to see Korea and the beginning of Vietnam. May you live in interesting times.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Marie and Malcolm Carskadden

An albumen print, mounted on a card, "Marie and Malcolm Carskadden" written on the back. I did a search on both Marie and Malcolm Carskadden and couldn't find a thing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Oops-A Preference For Film

If this was taken on a digital camera, the subject would have grabbed the camera and hit delete. Too embarrassing. Well, that's my contention and I'm standing by it. But, it was shot on film and she couldn't have ripped the film out of the camera without destroying all of the other vacation shots. After a bit of time goes by and it's less embarrassing and more fun. Of course, it falls into the hands of someone like me who posts it on a blog for the whole world to see. If she's still alive she might have wished she'd thrown this one away. Oops, sorry.