Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hazel Hamilton Rogers/Hazel Elizabeth Rogers

Written on the back of the second photograph, "Mother-1911 On Graduation From Wesleyan." On the third picture, "Mother's Wedding Picture Hazel Hamilton Rogers." The Confederate battle flag in the background of the graduation picture led me to Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, founded in 1836 as a Women's college by the Methodist Church. With Georgia as a location I went in search of any information I could find on Hazel Hamilton Rogers. What I found was a small foundation set up in memory of a school teacher named Hazel Elizabeth Rogers, daughter of Dr. Thomas Edward Rogers and distinguished musician, Hazel Hamilton Rogers. No sibling were mentioned in the brief paragraph. It looks like Hazel Elizabeth never married or had any children. The clear hand writing on the back of these pictures must be hers and very likely there were no family members to claim these pictures.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Alfalfa, Sr. Cabinet Card

I dare anyone to tell me that this guy doesn't look like Alfalfa from The Little Rascals. All that's missing is the cow lick and a few freckles. This card was probably made in the nineteenth century, so it is possible that this man could be an ancestor of little Al. Nice tie, too.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Cut Cadet

Are these military cadets? I think so, but my guess is that it's from a school other than West Point. The big question is why did someone feel the need to cut the photograph in half. One explanation, and the most likely, is that it fit the frame better that way. Then again, maybe the guy in the middle ran off with one of the other guys girlfriend, so cut him right down the middle. A symbolic substitution for doing it in real life. Ouch.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gloves and Fur

These three little 4x4 prints are some of the most interesting in the collection. As a collector I understand a reverence for objects. It's fashionable to criticize materialism, but let's be honest, what we own, what we treasure, helps to define us as a person. Perhaps the woman who owned the fur coat and leather gloves had been poor at one time, and the luxury of a mink coat, alligator purse, and leather gloves was a symbol of a hard past and comforted her when she remembered being without. Then again, perhaps she had been rich her entire life and taking these pictures was a way of saying, "Look at me. I've got more than you do, so there!" No date.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Monongahela Incline

This is a bit of a companion piece to yesterdays post of the Homestead Steel Works, also along the Monongahela River. I was born and raised in a small coal mining town about fifty or so miles from downtown Pittsburgh. In the late fifties and sixties, that was close enough to be accessible but far enough away to be a special treat. Sadly, my father did not share my enthusiasm for Pittsburgh's trolleys, soon to be torn up and replaced by bus lines, and the incline railways to Mt. Washington on Pittsburgh's south side. After I made my inglorious exit from Penn State, (Who knew they were that sensitive about bounced tuition checks.), I moved to Pittsburgh and started taking the inclines up to Mt. Washington for no other reason than that I enjoyed the ride. The Mon Incline and the Duquesne Incline, less than a mile down river, where the two survivors of what once had been 17 funiculars along the Monongahela River Valley. The large building at the foot of the incline on the second card was the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Terminal. It was pretty much a deserted hulk back then. I used to enjoy sitting in the quiet thinking about what it must have been like before passenger service ended on the south side. Eventually the preservation wing of the urban redevelopment movement got hold of the building. The passenger lobby became an upscale restaurant, and with my downscale income I found myself no longer welcome there. The old freight house became a shopping mall. Don't get me wrong, if that hadn't happened it would have been torn down, but really, how many Gaps can you visit? The Mon Incline was built in 1870. Today it's operated by Port Authority Transit, the public transit agency for Allegheny County. The Duquesne Incline is operated by a private foundation, and if I'm not getting them confused in my memory, the nicer of the two. Neither of these cards was used. On the back of both, "PUBLISHED BY I. ROBBINS & SON, PITTSBURGH, PA MADE IN U.S.A." I Robbins was in business from 1911 to 1943. Also, "PITTSBURGH PROMOTES PROGRESS" As well as the usual spot for stamps, and a not very interesting company logo. Go to Google, type in Monongahela Incline and then hit images. A lot of shots will come up, but be forewarned, a lot of them are of the Duquesne route.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Homestead In Music

The Homestead works has a central part in the history of western Pennsylvania. It was the sight of one of the countries largest steel mills and symbolic of the industrial might of the area. It was also the sight of a major strike that turned violent when Andrew Carnegie called in Pinkerton strikebreakers. Printed on the back, "MINSKY BROS. & CO., PUBLISHING DIVISION, PITTSBURGH, PA. "C.T. ART-COLORTONE" REG. U.S. PAT. OFF. MADE ONLY BY CURT TEICH & CO., INC., CHICAGO" Written on the back, "Dear Ernie & Jennie, Some swell fellows and girls here. Am having a good time. Made first chair (E Bass) Wish You Were Here. John K. Tilley" Addressed to "Ernie & Jennie Marks, Purse Ave. Walnut Grove, Johnstown, PA" Postmarked, "MUNICIPAL DEC. 11 8 A.M. 1937" Actually there is a flat sign between E and Bass, but my keyboard doesn't have that, so I had to leave it out. I found a John K, Tilley from Johnstown on line. May not be the same person, of course, but he was born on Dec., 24, 1918, he was a veteran of World War 2 and retired from the axle works of Bethlehem Steel, which might explain a musician sending a postcard featuring a steel mill.

Friday, July 22, 2011

By the Pool in Sunny Southern California

I doubt this is a public pool. It's a little free of the teaming masses looking to cool down on a sunny day. While it's possible that this could have been a private pool, because of it's size, I think I'm going with either country club or hotel. What an age when ladies dressed to sit by the water. I suspect that the women in the top picture enjoyed eying the pool boy. Click on the second to get a bigger and better look at the trio in the background. The blond starlet type is wearing a hell of a swim suit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Little Sweetheart-The Baker Family 12

This is it. The last of the loose Baker family photo album pages. It's also my favorite of the lot as well as the one that suggests the most questions. I'm still wondering whether or not the Brighton referenced is the one in New York or the one in England. If Brighton, New York was near Passaic, New Jersey, I'd go with New York, but it's a suburb of Rochester near Lake Ontario. And Passaic is in land, not on the ocean, so the beach photo has to be mislabeled. Where are they rowing? And is my little sweetheart a little boy or a little girl? Click on Baker family in the labels section to bring up the whole lot.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Visiting a Son in the Army-The Baker Family 11

In the 1920s when these photos were most likely taken, there was no G.I. bill of rights. There were no educational benefits, no signing bonus, not much of anything other than a pension after twenty years of service. People joined the army for adventure, or to build a career, or for patriotism, or because of poverty. From what I've seen of the Baker family album, poverty wasn't an issue. So why did this young man join the military? As usual, click on Baker family in the labels section to bring up the whole collection.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hiking in California

When I first saw this photo I said to myself, "Switzers, in the San Gabriel Mountains." OK, I know there isn't enough in this image to give an exact location, but I did buy this in Los Angeles, it looks like it's from the twenties, and weekends in the San Gabriel Mountains and the Angeles National Forest was a popular thing to do. After all, it was one of the selling points of the L.A. real estate boom of the era, sun drenched beaches and snow capped mountains. I doubt it was very comfortable for young women to hike in these clothes, but it had to be better than the dresses women wore a decade or so earlier while exploring the great outdoors.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mrs. Nancy A. Larkins

I wish this one was in better shape. The lady is beautiful. Written in pencil on the back, "Mrs. Nancy A. Larkins, Browns to right of market. 6x8 = Blk frame no 100, New Silver-oval or square which ever will show best. Dec. 19-250 No 136." Stamped in red ink, "DEC 1, 1904" Mounted on card, there is an embossed studio mark, but the name of the photographer has worn to the point of being unreadable. I can make out Blairsville, PA, though.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Aunt Alice From Australia-The Baker Family 10

And finally, the aforementioned aunt from Australia. I like to think that aunt Alice is descended from a London pick-pocket sentenced to transportation for life to Australia. Oh how things have changed. Now, having a few reprobates in the family tree makes for colorful stories. In the 1920s when these photos were probably taken, having a criminal ancestor was a shameful thing. Family shame! As always, click on Baker family in the labels section to bring up the whole lot.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shooting Up Like Weeds

Now I know the origin of the phrase. I wonder if these two just stood around all day looking ominous and scaring the passers by? Printed on postcard stock.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Masculine Feminine

Baggy clothes, short cropped hair, no make-up, way cool sunglasses in her hand, leaning on a souped up coupe. I can see this girl riding around town in a hot rod, but at the risk of dealing in offensive stereotypes, I have to wonder what was the situation. Was she sitting on the passenger side, feet up on the dash board, lisitening to Chuck Berry on the radio while her boy friend, dressed in chinos, a white tee shirt, slicked back hair, looked for someone to race? Or was she the driver, and was her passenger a nice girl from a nice family, with one of those high pony tails and a poodle skirt, who wondered why she liked spending time with the girl that everybody at school said looked like a guy?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Young Men and the Whole World Before Them-The Baker Family 9

The Baker family album has dates from the early twenties to the mid thirties. No dates on this page, but I'm betting from the confidence some of these young men project that these photos had to be taken during the twenties. Or, is it the age of the subjects rather than the date that matters? Is there an age where economic depressions and the shadow of war doesn't matter? Click on Baker family in the labels section to bring up the whole collection.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Spinning Yarn

It is a commonly held view that women, before World war 2 and the call of war work, were nothing more than wives and mothers. The reality is that work was as much a matter of economic class as it was of sex. Women of the middle classes and above were born to a certain level of gentility, marring and raising children. Women of lower economic classes were born to a life of labor just as men were. The women in this photo were probably short lived. They very likely, as did men, work sixty to seventy hour weeks. They probably died from their labors. Textile workers would have died from exhaustion as well as lung and heart disease brought on by the inhalation of cotton dust.

Printed on the back, "14-(22080) SPINNING COTTON YARN, LAWRENCE, MASS."

When one looks at a view of this sort, he is confused by the great number of machines. His first thought is that cloth making is too difficult for him to understand. But really there are just two main processes to hold in mind. The first of these is spinning of the thread by twisting together a number of fibers. The second is the weaving; that is, lacing together two sets of cross threads.

Our modern cotton mills weave cloth on a large scale. Most of the work is done by the machines that are watched over by careful experts. The first thing done is to examine the cotton in the bale for quality and it's length. It is necessary that the fibers used in a certain grade of cloth be of a certain fineness. The machines, too are set to handle fibers of a certain length. hence the sorting of cotton is a very important item.

The selected bales are then opened, the cotton is cleaned, and carded. The carding machine combs out the fibers, and makes them lie in parallel rows. These strands are put into cans, and is called sliver (long"i"). The sliver is next "drawn"; that is, 6 strands are drawn through 3 sets of machines until they lie straight and close side by side. The threads pass next into roving frames which make them the desired size.

From the roving room the tread is taken into the spinning room. It is this room you see in the view. In these mills more than 330,000 spindles are busy twisting the threads into yarn. It is this yarn that is woven into cloth. The girl watches for broken threads, or empty bobbins.

Locate Lawrence on your map. Why are so many many of our cotton mills in New England? Why are they not in the south where cotton is grown?

Copyright by The Keystone View Company."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Old Folks-The Baker Family 8

The older members of the Baker family. It's just a guess, of course, but the house in the second picture has an English country side look. It goes with the Brighton, Limey and Australian aunt references. Were the Bakers immigrants to the United States or did an English branch of the family send a few snapshots? Click on Baker Family in the labels section to bring up the whole collection.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mauch Chunk

In 1953, the towns of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk merged, purchased the body of athlete Jim Thorpe from his widow, built a tomb, and changed their name to Jim Thorpe in hopes of attracting tourists. Before that, Mauch Chunk's claim to fame was it's gravity railroad. Built in 1827 to move coal 8.7 miles from the mines at Summit Hill to the coal chutes at Mauch Chunk, the railway used mules to haul the cars to the top of Pisgah Mountain and then used gravity to get back down the mountain. In 1846 a second track was laid and steam winches replaced mules for the uphill. It didn't take long for the coal company to realize that people were willing to pay to take the round trip on the gravity railroad. (The technology used by the gravity railroad is the same used by roller coasters.) The four hour ride to the top and the thirty minute downhill became a major American tourist attraction. Unfortunately, the route couldn't survive the great depression. Foreclosed, the only purchaser to show an interest was a scrapper who purchased the system, tore it up for the value of the rails. This card predates the divided back style that allowed for messages. It's addressed to "Miss Grace Book, No 58 fifth st., Bloomsburg, Pa." Postmarked, "MAUCH CHUNK 1905." The rest of the info is obscured. Printer, "H.C. Leighton Co., Portland, Me., Manufacturers of Postal Cards. Made in Germany. No 1130."

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4

Why do we equate patriotism with war?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

After the Fact-The Baker Family 7

Some people take their pictures home and paste them into the family album. Some people throw their pictures in a drawer and get to it when they get to it. This page from the baker family album is the back side of the last post. On this one sheet of paper there are dated photographs from 1930 to 1936. In the digital age, people download their pictures to a computer, maybe they post them on Flickr. It makes me wonder if we are entering an era without family photos, at leas the physical kind. And when computers crash, or when the photo sharing service goes out of business, and there is no reason to think that they won't disappear when the next thing comes along, what then?

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Faded Beach-The Baker Family 6

What is it about the Baker family? Did they leave their photographs out in the sun or did their photo finisher not understand the concept of a proper fix and archival wash? Anyway, it's more than just the photos that have faded. The type of beach resort (Hampton Beach, New Hampshire) seen in these images are also a bit of a faded memory. While they still exist, the open beach, open to all resorts are being replaced by a more exclusive type of development. High end hotels, gambling casinos, and ocean front mansions are cutting off the general public from ocean access. Here in Los Angeles it's a constant battle with the wealthy building homes adjacent to public beaches and then doing their best to prevent the general public from crossing their land to get to the ocean. On paper it's still open to all, but when they are allowed to get away with it, those beaches become private. I've decided to break up the Baker family collection and not post them back to back. Just click on baker family in the labels section to bring them all up. More to follow.