Friday, March 30, 2012

Bluejackets From Nebraska

The only photo in this group that has any writing on the back is the first one in the column. "Adm. Olson, Bob Harris-Yokosuka, Me" Is "Me" Denzel Smith? I went to the obituary photo of Denzel, (See the previous post for a link.) and compared the gentleman on the right, same cleft chin, same shape to the face. I'd say it's about a 95% match. Too, we know that Denzel Smith was in the navy from 1942 to 1946. Yokosuka was a large Japanese naval base at the mouth of Tokyo Bay that was turned over to the United States in 1945. So, while I don't know if Denzel was ever posted to Japan, it's possible that he was there, playing baseball for a navy team in 45 or 46. And we also know from an earlier post (navigate back two) that Denzel was a high school baseball player. Yes, I'm thinking another chapter in the extraordinary life of Denzel Smith, scholar, athlete, veteran of both the army and the navy, consultant to presidents.

There is also some stamped information on the first three photos. On the first one, "Neg. No VNC-6693 (c) -9-56 RELEASED OFFICIAL NAVY PHOTOGRAPH IF PUBLISHED CREDIT LINE MUST READ: OFFICIAL U.S. NAVY PHOTOGRAPH" And on the next two images, "OFFICIAL U.S. NAVY PHOTOGRAPH Released for publication The navy department has no objection to use of this photograph to commercial advertisements, provided copy and layout are submitted for review, prior to publication to a District Public Information Office. Naval Training Center Public Information Officer. PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE, U.S. Naval Training Center, San Diego 33, Calif."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Goofing Off In Nebraska

There's that unfortunate salute again. If I weren't so lazy, I'd go back and do some revisions on the first two posts of this Nebraska series. In the first, I speculated that these photos could be related. In the second, I thought that the linkage might be the photographer. Anyway, I was in such a hurry to get things up, I didn't take a close enough look at things. Now I realize that they all must have come from the same source.

All of these photos have the same stamp on the back. "KODAK PRINT MADE BY THAT MAN GALE APR 18. 1929 YORK, NEBR-AUROROA, NEBR" Robert G. Gale was born in Beatrice, NB on Nov. 17, 1871. He had a photo studio and processing shop in York as early as 1916. I've found references to his business from 1927, as well. At another blog, I found a studio photo dated to 1951 or 52, but I suspect that someone had either bought the studio or a family member had inherited by then. It's possible that Robert Gale was still active in his early eighties, but I have my doubts.

Written on the backs of the photos in descending order, "Denzel Smith" (Note that Denzell is holding a pistol to his head. It might be necessary to click on the image and bring it up in a bigger window to make it out.) "Mark Meteer" of the unfortunate salute, "Raymond Ronne, Margaret Smith" side by side, and "Denzel Smith, Helen Burgess" in the dominating pose. Well, I thought I had hit the jackpot finding out about that man Gale, but when I took a flyer and fed Denzel Smith into Google, well now, that was something else again. Denzel "Denny" Smith was born in rural Nebraska in 1912. So he would have been about 17 when these pictures were printed, probably a high school junior or senior. He would get a B.A. from York College and go on to teach high school in Wymore, NB from 1931-1935. Not bad, but it gets better. An M.A. would follow in 1937, and a PhD. in educational psychology and measurements in 1941. Both from the University of Nebraska. From 1942-1946 he was in the navy, developing selection processes for pilots, as well as working on cockpit designs. He would retire as a Lt. Commander. But it doesn't stop there. He would go on to teach at the University of Maryland and work for the National Science Foundation. During the Korean War, he would be sent to Korea to visit prisoner of war camps as an expert in psychological warfare with a temporary rank of Lt. General in the army. As an NSF staffer, he would consult and contribute to Lyndon Johnson's 1965 State of the Union Address. And, there is a whole lot more. If I knew enough about computers to cut and paste his obituary into this post, I'd do it, but instead I'll just put a link to it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Lettermen of Lushton, Nebraska

Lushton is a very small village in York County, Nebraska. According to the 2010 census, the population comes to a whopping 33, spread out over sixteen households and 12 families. So was Lushton big enough, in the 1920s, to support a high school and field a baseball team, or did Lushton High cater to all the farm kids? The latter would be my guess. There is nothing written on the back of the first photo in the group, (Gotta love the kid hanging off to the side.) but on the others in descending order, "Cecil Franc, Denzel Smith" "Cecil 7, Raymond, Mark, Denzel" "Raymond, Mark, Bill, Steve, Wayne" "Mark, Cecil" "Raymond 3, Mark 1" "Cecil 7, Denzel" "Bill, Steve, Wayne" Anyway, I think I might have figured out the connection to yesterday's post. It's the photographer, rather than the subjects. The names on the back are the people who want prints. The names that were crossed out from yesterday were either filled or cancelled orders. Hey, hasn't Blogger heard of Denzel Washington? The spell check says it isn't a real name.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Costumed Girls From Nebraska

I've picked up a few photos from a dealer in Nebraska. Some are clearly related, others...perhaps, but I can't be sure. This one looks like girls from a play or maybe a festival of some kind. Written on the back, "1. Ruth, 1. Jean, 1. Mary, 1. Doris, 1. Nola, 1. Edythe, 1. Nellie, 1. Esther, 1. Lillie" Ruth, Mary, Doris, Esther and Lillie have had their names crossed out. I wonder what they did to offend. And which one is giving the Hitler salute? The photo looks like it's from the twenties, so I'm sure she wasn't making a political statement, but it is an unfortunate coincidence.

Friday, March 23, 2012

It's Snowing in Texas

Dated, "MAR 57" Written on the back, "Lita In front of Car Port. Amarillo, Tex." Who says global warming isn't real?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tussy Cream Deodorant

Oh that strange, disembodied face staring out from the top picture. A bit of advertising , of course, but with all the reflections, a bit weird. Tussy Cream Deodorant has been manufactured since 1925, and according to it's manufacturer's web site,, it's available in dollar stores everywhere. Stamped on the back of the top picture, "APR 28, 1951" If the regular price for a jar of Tussy was $1.00 in 1951, and it's for sale in dollar stores today, that means that the price hasn't changed in 61 years. Now that's a bargain!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Very Cool Sun Glasses

In the beginning there were flight goggles. (See yesterday's post.) When airplanes changed form open cockpits to enclosed flight decks, pilots no longer needed goggles, but they did need sun glasses. The first aviators were made from lenses removed from no longer needed goggles, wrapped in wire. I wonder if this young man is looking for airplanes in the sky.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Head In the Clouds

Feet in the snow. Do kids still admire pilots? I doubt it. There was something very romantic about earlier ages of aviation. Goggles, open cockpits, barnstorming, and of course, Lindbergh soloing the Atlantic when that was a good way to get killed. I was born in 1955, and we still looked up to the World War 2 fighter pilot when I was a kid.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The German American Collection, It All Ends in Smithtown

Written on the back, "1956 Mr & Mrs B.C. Oakside Rd. Smithtown." Is this a bit of a let down for the last image of the collection? Yes and no. To recap, a dealer had purchased a large collection of photos at an estate sale, sold some of the best images separately, and then bundled the reminder into groups, put them up on EBay, and this was the only lot that I won. The huge gaps make it impossible to build a true narrative. Still, we can know that this collection had plenty of images from both the United States and Germany. What we can't know is how the two came together. Did a German branch of a family send photos to their American cousins? Was there a move from Germany between the wars or after World War 2, followed by marriage into an American family? In any case, somehow or another, some branch of this family ended up in a post war suburb on Long Island. The good life dreamed of by so many, recorded with this one, very faded color photograph. Click on German American in the labels section to bring the whole lot up. Good, bad, and indifferent images, but worth it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The German American Collection, The Album 16

This is it for the album, and only one more image from the entire collection to go. As already noted, the front cover of the album is missing and it's impossible to tell, with it's pages bound together with a ribbon, if any pages have been removed. Still, this page does seem like a good ending to me. Germany had just gone through a devastating war, for which it was partly responsible, as well as a period of hyperinflation. Between war deaths, a world wide Spanish flu pandemic which killed even more people, and a collapsed economy, there wasn't much to inspire happiness, but somehow or another, there was fun to be had. Germany, in the twenties, had one of the richest cultural movements in history. The Bauhaus, German expressionism, theater, song, and an incredibly rich cinema. And just a decade or so after these photos were taken, it would all be gone as the madness of Nazism took over. And after that another world war. It's very probable that at lest some of the people in these photos died in the slaughter.

The German American Collection, The Album 15

Business partners who enjoy a good walk in the woods? As good an explanation as any.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The German American Collection, The Album 14

Time to start the final push on the German American collection. No more interruptions! Why is this woman wearing stockings with her swimsuit?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Swimming Dock

Dated July 1931, during the great depression. Even in hard times people can enjoy the simple things, like a nice swim.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Like Trains

I love rail travel. I love trains, streetcars, and subways. I love steam, diesel and electric. I hope the state of California builds the high speed route between Los Angeles and San Francisco. This photo is by train enthusiast Elwin K. Heath. Written on the back, "Canadian National 6019, Class U-1b 4-82, Montreal 1933." For a brief mention of Heath and lots of other great train photographs go to

Friday, March 9, 2012

Niagara Falls

Slowly we turn. Step by step. Inch by inch. Just a quick one for fans of The Three Stooges. Niagara Falls became the go to place for honeymooners in the second half of the 19th century. A nascent middle class with disposable income, easy rail connections from eastern cities, cheap hotels, and a tourist industry was born. Niagara Falls was also the home of Shredded Wheat, a much dreaded breakfast from my childhood. I thought I'd just mention that since I've put up a Shredded Wheat advertising card on my other blog,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The German American Collection, The Album 13

The last of the formal portraits, this time a group effort. Remember to click on German-American in the labels section to bring up the lot.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The German American Collection, The Album 12

We've all shared the experience. Someone pulls out the guitar, and starts playing. More often than not, they're not very good, but no one is impolite enough to tell him to stop. I'm always amazed that men once wore suits, and women wore dresses to go hiking.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The German American Collection, The Album11

Posing with books was once quite common. When and why did that change?