Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Tramways of Basle

 When I first saw this image, I thought it was a postcard, but when I turned it over I found that it was a ticket stub.  Printed on the back,

"Welcome in Basle!  Switzerland, now being honored with your visit, is but a small spot on the globe compared with the size of  your country.  Yet she has been lucky enough to preserve her freedom and independency  during the war.  Her democracy has been deeply rooted in the people for centuries.  This has always fostered friendly relations with all democratic countries.

We wish all Americans on leave the very best for their trip through this country, which offers lots of beautiful things in a narrow space.


Ticket Fr. 1-  Serie Ii  No.  8916"

I won't go into the history of Basel, spelled Basle in German.  If anyone wants to delve into the 1600 + year history of the city, they can go online or check out a book from the library.  I will note that the city is located where the German and French borders intersect with Switzerland.

Basel is serviced by the Basler Verkerhs-Betriebe, The Basel Transport Service, the BVB, owned by Basel-Statdt, the city of Basel.  The system operates both trams and buses.   Of course, ticket stubs picturing American soldiers would not be printed on a postcard sized stub for everyday use.  The service must have been offering tours for members of the American occupation forces.  I'm sure, before 1945, they were also offering tours for German soldiers on leave. After all, tourist money is always welcome.  I keep thinking that American G.I.s probably found bits of German graffiti on their tours.  Maybe a Swastika, maybe a bit of pro Hitler doodeling, or perhaps even some anti-Nazi scrawls.  No doubt, the American soldiers left a few choice remarks of their own.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More Nurses

When did nurses stop wearing those funny caps?  When did they stop wearing the starched white uniforms? Well, that's one of the things about collecting old photographs.  If I hadn't picked up these four images, I would have never wondered why.

The first nurses were Catholic nuns.  With the rise of protestant denominations and the missionary movement, other sects got into the act and started teaching young women the basics of medicine.  And then, along came Florence Nightingale.  I've made the point in past posts that, contrary to modern opinion, women did work before World War 2 and feminism.  They worked as farm laborers, servants, and with the industrial revolution, factory hands.  It was upper class women that didn't work.  Nightingale was an exception.  From a wealthy English family, Florence Nightingale felt a calling from God to minister to the sick, so she sought out training and then lead a group of other like minded women to nursing during the Crimean War.  After the war, she decided that nurses needed formal education, and that only respectable women should enter the profession.  In 1860, at St. Thomas Hospital in London, she started the first secular nursing school.  And since it was a profession, she demanded that her graduates wear a uniform.  The first caps were modeled after nun's habits and were intended to do no more than keep hair in place, but as time went by, designs changed.  In some American nursing schools, distinct caps were designed for the exclusive use of their graduates.

Anyway, from what I've been able to find out, the practice of traditional caps and uniforms began to die out in the 1980s.  There wasn't anything significant about the changing tradition.   Scrubs were cheaper, more comfortable, and easier to clean.

No names or dates on the photos, though forties or fifties, I think, would be a good guess.  It looks like our nurse had visiting family, and after they headed back home, she and her friends broke out the gallon jug of Gallo wine and had a party.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Happy Birthday From the Nurse's Dorm

I don't know where this photograph was taken, but I do know when it was printed.  Stamped on the back, "THIS IS A Kodacolor Print MADE ONLY BY KODAK WEEK OF JUNE 1 - 57"  But what's going on?  Going by this young ladies age,  my guess is that she's a nursing student, she's in her dorm room, and her classmates have thrown her a birthday party.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mack Sennett's Bathing Beauties

I'm not going to write much about Mack Sennett.  He was born in Canada in 1880 and died, within my lifetime, in 1960.  He was early cinema's King of Comedy, the producer or director of hundreds of one and two reel shorts.  He also either ran, or was a partner, in several studios, most notably, Keystone, Triangle, with Thomas Ince and D. W. Griffith, and, of course, The Mack Sennett Studios.  There are plenty of articles on the web, as well as the better source, well written books, out there for those who want to know more.

This post is about the Mack Sennett bathing beauties.  Smart business man that he was, Sennett saw the relationship between pretty girls and ticket sales, so in 1915, he recruited his first troop of bathing beauties.  It wasn't hard to find  pretty young women, on the beaches of California,  willing to be filmed or photographed wearing a skimpy bathing suit. (In 1915, the above image was skimpy.  Things do change, after all.)  But while the bathing beauties were about box office, they weren't about stardom.  Sennett did his best to keep them as anonymous as possible.  They weren't credited, and were often replaced by someone prettier or more willing to do anything for a laugh.  Many of them would get their featured bits, or  what even could be considered an actual part, but only a few got out of  the background and into the limelight.

Juanita Hansen, 1895-1961, had the lead or a major supporting role in dozens of silent films, but a problem with alcohol and cocaine addiction ended her career in 1923.  Eventually, she got sober and had a second act as an anti drug and alcohol activist.

Claire Anderson, 1891-1964, made 73 movies, many as one of the bathing beauties, and many as credited lead.  Her last film was in 1926.

Marie Prevost, 1898-1937, was the first of the beauties to become a major star, with the lead in several films directed by  Ernst Lubitsch.   After her mother died in a car accident, and an unhappy love affair with Howard Hughes, she sank into a deep depression and, like Juanita Hansen, developed a drug and alcohol problem.  Her last film was in 1936.  She died a year latter from the long term damage caused by alcoholism, and acute malnutrition.  At her death, her estate was worth less than $300.  If Joan Crawford hadn't paid for her funeral, it would have fallen to Los Angeles county to bury her as an indigent.

Phyllis Haver, 1899-1960, married millionaire William Seeman in 1930, and retired form the screen, but not before starring as Roxie Hart in the first film version of Chicago, in 1927.  Divorced in the mid forties, Haver would die of an accidental barbiturate overdose.

Carole Lombard, 1908-1942.  The greatest of the bathing beauties, Lombard, was one of the great film comedians of the sound era.  She starred in a number of genuine film classics including, Twentieth Century, My Man Godfrey, Nothing Sacred, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and the Lubitsch classic, To Be Or Not To Be.  After America's entry into World War 2, she returned to her native Indiana on a war bond tour.  Her plane back to Los Angeles crashed, killing all on board, including her mother and agent.   Her husband, Clark Gable, joined the army not long after her funeral.

And finally, I've never understood the appeal of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon game, but....Kevin Bacon appeared with Colin Firth in Where the Truth Lies, Colin Firth costarred with Claire Bloom in The King's Speech, Claire Bloom was Charlie Chaplin's leading lady in Limelight, and Chaplin had a supporting role in Mabel's Strange Predicament, directed by and starring Mabel Normand, produced by Mack Sennett, .

Friday, June 22, 2012

On Gault Street 5

And Forrestine makes her final appearance in the last of the Gault Street photos.  In the first photo in the column, Forrestine, on the far right, looks like she did in other photos from the mid thirties, but a printers mark on the front, right border dates the print to "NOV 57"  Eva was looking back on her childhood, her frineds and family from long ago.

Captions from top to bottom, "Marcia, Rita, Joan & Forrestine"  But who is the adult standing on the porch?
"Lucille Willoughby and Florence Willoughby, Taken in 1939"  "Joan Motz, Marie Hanna, July 1940"  "Norman & Trixie"  and finally "Dale"  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On Gault Street 4

In an earlier post, it was determined that it was Eva writing the captions.  Take a close look at the kid on the right in the first photo of the column, and compare him with the little boy in the final picture.  He sure looks like the same to me, perhaps no more than one or two years older.  The print, and the one just above it, however, are far more recent than that.  (Don't ask me how I know, other than twenty plus years of professional experience printing black & white photos.)  Anyway, for those of us old enough to remember life before the digital age, most homes had a box.  Maybe an old shoe box, maybe a large carton, full of old snapshots and negatives.  I think Eva was the one who decided to go through the box, put things in order, get a few new prints made, and write captions before memories faded and the people in the prints were forgotten.  It'll be interesting to see, twenty years from now, if people will go through the old hard drives, looking for images to print, so they can be passed around.

Captions from top to bottom.  "Forrestine, Dale, Norman on Pontiac 1931.  Rear of 1335 Gault St. Cols, O."  "Norman 3 yrs. old on Gault."  "Wertha, Dale, & Norman (on Gault St.)"  "Millie at Thurston"  And finally, a photo without a caption.  Eva, wasn't he worth the memory?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On Gault Street 3

The return of Forrestine!  Weird names, or archaic names, names that were once popular, but have fallen out of favor? Just for the hell of it, I entered Forrestine, Evealie, and Wertha into a search engine.  According  to the white pages website, as of February 2011, there were 115 Forrestines in their listings, 23 in Tennessee, 2 Evealies, both in Oregon, and no Werthas.  I did find an article about an astronomer named Wertha Pendleton Cole, but that Wertha was a man.

Captions from top to bottom.  "Lucille, friend, Laura, & Otis"  "Otis & Clarence"  "Clarence, Otis, Jud  & the boy who drove Jud's car"  "Forrestine & Dale, Shelter house Lancaster, O, Rising Park, 1931"  Lancaster is a small city in Ohio, and Rising Park is it's main park.  And finally,  "Eva Anthony, Marie Fisher, Elsie Anthony, & Forrestine Kristol in George's ice wagon"  Another quick note on names.  Eva's handwriting isn't the best in the world.  Forrestine's last name sometimes appears to be  Kristol, sometinmes Krostol, or Krostel.  I've chosen Kristol as the most likely for no other reason that I've run across the name before.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On Gault Street 2

Take a look at the second picture in the column.  This is something I've seen before.  A girl who isn't yet a full grown adult, but is also well beyond small child, wearing ringlets or the big hair bows, most often associated with little girls.  Is it me, or do others find it a bit perverse.  It doesn't help, that she looks like she might be pregnant.

Alright then, captions from top to bottom.  "Oscar's Mother second from right and her 3 cousins (sisters and brother) from Ada, Ohio."   A bit of confusion?  Siblings or cousins?  "Steve, Marion, Breece, Marie, Eva, J.J., Dalton & Otis (rear)"  More strange names.  "Millie's side door.  Snow on ground."  Well, every collection has a few dull photos.  "Forrestine, Mrs. Moehl, Billy Moehl, Arlene Moehl, & their cousin."
 "(Eva wrote this) Eva, Dalton, Laura, and Evealie with the youngest of all who is Mamma."  As I noted in the last post, all the captions are written in the same hand, and now we know it's Eva.  "Oscar's Mother, Columbus."

On Gault Street 1

I've picked up a small collection of photos that I'll be putting up in five separate posts.  Most look to have been printed when the pictures were taken, though there are also a couple of reprints in the group.  Some have captions that reference Gault Street and Columbus, Ohio, though some were printed in Texas.  All of the captions are written in the same hand.

Written on the prints, top to bottom.  "1924  X Grandma Kristol X Forrestine, 3 yrs."  "Laura Shaheen taken on Gault St. in early thirties"  There is also a stamp on the back of this one, "THIS IS A SKILLTONE PRINT  SKILEEN'S SEP. 20, 1937  FINISHED IN OUR MODERN LAB" The first of the reprints.  "Elsie Sharp & Forrestine, Gault St."  "Werthe & Oscar Berry pickers"  "Dalton on porch of his home.  Jud, Evealie & Marion on the side."

What a great bunch of names.

Friday, June 15, 2012

On the 40th Anniversary of Watergate

Forty years ago, today, a group of semi incompetent burglars broke into Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.  The were employees of CREEP, The Committee to Re-Elect the President.  Their capture lead to a scandal that would force the newly re-elected president to resign in disgrace.

I was born during the Eisenhower administration, have clear memories of both the Kennedy and Johnson years, but it was Richard Nixon's administration that was the  presidency of my youth.  I can remember the Watergate investigation, the press coverage, and the congressional hearings that, had Nixon not quit in disgrace, would have resulted in his impeachment, conviction, and removal from office.

The caption on the back of this postcard, "AMERICA'S FIRST FAMILY  President Richard M. Nixon and Mrs. Nixon are shown with their two daughters Patricia (Tricia) and Mrs. Julie Eisenhower and her husband, David.  It's evident that they're enjoying the President's piano playing."  The card was never mailed, Published by "Scenic AMERICA Postcards, BESSEMER, ALA. 35020."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

School Days

Just a reminder.  There was a time, in the United States, when we put a higher priority on education than low taxes.  There isn't a date on the  postcard of the New High School, Springfield, Ohio, but I was able to find a similar one on one of my favorite research sites, EBay, postmarked 1913.  Judging by the clothes on the people, I'd say that the hand colored photo was taken some time around 1900.  The population of Springfield in 1900 was 38,253.  Not a big city, but a small one by the standards of 1900.  At a time when schools were paid for by local taxes, the people of Springfield decided to build a large stone building with a cupola.   The Pleasant Home High School of Andalusia, Alabama, dated 1942-44, is a lot more modest, expected from a small town of 6,886 people, (That's from the 1940 census.) but it's still well built and maintained.  (And yes, I do know that a decade before Brown vs Board of Education,  that this would have been an all white school, and that the local black population attended a far less impressive institution.)

I meet a lot of young people in my work, and while they are well versed in modern technology, I'm surprised at how little they've read, and how little they know about government and current events.  I know I'm sounding like the classic old fogy complaining about kids these days, but I went to what was considered a sub standard high school, and our school had a mandatory reading list, and classes in government and current events.  With cuts in funding for education, schools are less likely to educate for the well rounded citizen and more likely to go for job skills.  I'm sure many people think that's a good thing.  I'm not one of them.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Standing In Snow

Yes, I know.  It's summer.  That doesn't mean I can't post a photo of a guy standing in snow.  Now, give this man a pair of those round, horn rimmed glasses, and a pipe and tell me he wouldn't look like Jean-Paul Sartre. Hey, I read.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Family That Swims Together....

....stays together.  But who took the picture?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sullen French Girls

Pre-punks?  Born fifty years too early?  Dated, "Juillet 1927"  July, for those like me, who do not speak French.

Monday, June 4, 2012

More Riding Horses

This is a companion piece to yesterday's post.  Awhile back I bought a grab bag of photos, a sealed envelope of at least 100 pictures for a set price.  These two horse riding photos were part of the package, but, they're a different format, in other words, two different cameras, yesterday's post had writing on the back, this one was pulled from a photo album, and it's not the same rider.  Nevertheless, I'm going with the same source explanation until someone can offer something other than coincidence.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Riding Horses

Written on the back, "This is how I spent Thanksgiving Day morning.  1926.  This was taken after a hard run and we're all out of breath."  

1926 was an interesting time to live in the United States.  One world war was over and the next off in the future.  The economy was booming and prosperity was wide spread.  Of course, the economic strength was fueled by speculation, and in just a few years it would all go bust with the great depression.  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

What Can I Say, But....

....nice lips, and the feather isn't so bad, either.  No date or name.  From the thirties or forties would be my guess.