Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shirley Bristow

Labeled Shirley Bristow.  I love the low angle.  I don't know whether the photographer used a fill flash or if the printer dodged  Shirley's upper body, but it's a nice contrast with the darker background.  Probably from the mid thirties to early forties.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The North Texas State Normal College Album 1

It's time to put up another album and it's a mess.  There are 25 pages with images, a number where the photos have been removed, and damaged pages as well.  In addition there are a lot of  loose photos, some of the period, others newer, that have been stored between the pages.  Because there is so much to see, I'll be putting additional posts up in a when ever I get to it fashion.  I'll be putting NTSNC in the labels section so that those who are interested can click and bring  everything up together.

NTSNC stands for North Texas State Normal College.  It was founded as a private teachers college in 1890 in Denton, Texas.  It held classes above a hardware store and was called The Texas Normal College and Teachers Training Institute.  It changed hands in 1893 and became The North Texas Normal College.  In 1899 it was taken over by the state of Texas and finally became The North Texas State Normal College.  There were more name changes in the future.  In 1923, North Texas Normal College. In 1949, North Texas State College. In 1961, North Texas University.  And in 1988, it's present name, The University of North Texas.

I suspect part 2 is at least a week away, so be patient.

How We Got Around

When I was born, in 1955, there were people alive, younger than I am today, who could remember an America where people still got around by horse and buggy.  This photograph was cut from a larger image and pasted in an  album which someone has taken apart.  No date or captions.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

More Men In Uniform

For a nation that prides itself on rugged individualism, we sure do love our uniforms.  My first thought was cop, but when I blew it up, I didn't see a badge.  He could still be a policeman, but I think high school ROTC is also a strong possibility.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Flatiron Building, the One In Panama

No, I didn't know that there was a Flat Iron Building in Panama either.  At least not until a couple of days ago when I found this card in the dollar postcard bin at the antique store.  There is a postmark but it's smeared, so all I know is that it was sent form the Canal Zone and was addressed to "Miss Emily Thadeu, c/o The Inter Amer. Drug and Trading Co., 130 Pearl St., New York"  And the message, "You see-we have a flatiron building in Panama.  Greetings from N.N."

Let me take a minute to make an argument for the good old fashioned brick and mortar library.  I went on line and entered Inter American Drug and Trading Company in the search engine.  And what popped up?  Page after page of stories about drug traffickers from Central and South America.  I suspect that given enough time and enough word combinations I might have found something about the company, but I also knew that if I lived in New York, I could have gone to the New York Public Library and pulled old city directories, gone through old newspapers, and checked incorporation records after being told by the librarian exactly where to look.  Yes, yes, the digital world is better, yada, yada, yada.....But I do think people are loosing something by not knowing how to use a library.  There is a value in holding old paper in your hands and reading the faded letters of an original document.  I know it sounds strange, but there is a thrill in finding something completely unexpected on a rarely visited library shelf.

I've never put a section form an image up before, but I did like the detail in the building's doorway and thought a close up would help.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Flatiron Building, The One In New York

As I add more and more old postcards to the collection, I keep having to make a decision; Was the original image a photograph or a drawing?  Looking at the detail in the building's facade and the chaos of the street , I'm fairly certain it's a photo, and a fit for The New Found Photography.  I'm also fairly certain that the original photograph was probably taken during the day, and the night sky, moon, and lights were all added by the colorist who prepped the image for conversion to a postcard.

I'm not going to write much about the Flatiron Building.  It's one of the most icon structures in the world and it doesn't take much effort to find out plenty of information.  I will note that it was built in 1902, and was designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham with additional work done by Frank P. Dinkelberg.

When it was first built it was not a loved structure by the people of New York.  Because of it's thin design, it was assumed that it would blow down in the first strong wind and New Yorkers made fun of it, referring to it as Burnham's folly.  Architectural critics were not kind.  One thought it a grand place to watch a procession but a terrible place to do business.  Now it's thought of as one of the most symbolic buildings of New York and has been added to the list of National Historic Landmarks. .

The Flatiron has long been an inspiration to artists.  As early as 1903, photographer Alfred Stieglitz was making photographs of the building.  In 1904, Edward Steichen made an early color photo that I'm probably going to put up on another of my blogs,  Painters John Sloan, Childe Hassam and others have also made significant works from the Flatiron.  I've been looking at some of them, and what really caught my eye was that the building's profile is so thin, the images all look like a facade and nothing else, no real building, just a wall floating in air.

This card was never sent and there was no message written on the back.  The caption, "FLAT IRON BUILDING, BROADWAY AND FIFTH AVENUE, BY NIGHT, NEW YORK CITY.  Fuller Building, generally known as the Flat Iron building stands at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue facing 23rd Street.  Was the first steel frame skyscraper built in the world.  It is 300 feet high and contains 120,000 square feet of floor space above ground and 13,340 square feet under the sidewalk."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Body Snatcher

Pod person absorbs frightened granny.  Bad pod person. Bad!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Looking Into the Lens

She looks very stern.  Perhaps she was a missionary.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


At first glance, this isn't much of a postcard.  With it's amazing detail, it's clearly a photograph, most likely a black & white photograph, that has been hand colored.  Labeled "Pension Francaise Maurice" it was probably given out to guests passing through Naples. A nice image, but not all that exciting.

But turn it over and it gets far more interesting.  There are two postmarks, one from Naples, and one from Burma.  The Italian stamp is mostly obscured, but the Burmese, "MANDALAY  11 OCT 28  2:30 P.M."   is easily read.  It's addressed to "Miss H. M. Price, A.B.M. Girls School, Mandalay, Burma, Brit. India"  And the message, "We are coming along toward Burma at a pretty rapid clip.  Sail tonight for Bombay, ought to reach R by Oct. 10th.  Hope to see you soon after that.  Our journey has been so rapid I haven't had time to write any letters.  Shall have lots to tell you.  I have a pkg. for you I think you'll like.  Yrs, B."

I punched A.B.M. girls school into the search engine, not expecting much.  My initial thought was that it had to be a school for the daughters of British, colonial administrators.  I was wrong.  A.B.M. stands for American Baptist Missionary, and it wasn't a school for white children, but a church school that taught Christianity along with useful skills to Burmese girls.  The earliest reference to a Baptist missionary school in Burma that I could find was from 1895, a boy's school in Mandalay.  For girls, 1906, also in Mandalay.  So that means that Miss Price must have been a teacher.  I couldn't find anything about her on the web, but I did find mention of an L. W. Price, a Baptist missionary in Burma,  from 1900.  Possibly a relative of some kind, although 1928 is quite a gap.  So maybe not.

Mandalay was the last royal capital of Burma, now Myanmar.  In 1885, the British conquered the country, exiled the king and queen, and added it to their colonial empire.  The palace was looted.  The art, and symbols of state are in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, some of which are on display.  I suspect that "R" refers to Rangoon, now Yangon.  After the British conquest, they moved the capital from Mandalay to Rangoon.  While Rangoon, a seaport, would become a major commercial hub for the British, Mandalay would remain the center of Buddhist and Burmese culture.  Burma became independent in 1948.  In 2002, the military junta running the country began construction of a brand new city, Naypydaw. In 2006, it became the new capital of Myanmar.  Several years ago the military was forced to cede power to an elected, civilian government.  Only time will tell how stable it will be.

An uncle of mine was in the British military in World War 2.  He served in the CBI theater.  That's China, Burma, India.  He told me stories of taking Japanese prisoners up in DC-3 transports and throwing them out over the jungles and mountains of Burma. An interrogation technique that rarely worked.  He told me how the soldiers would beat and imprison any Burmese thought to be disloyal to the British Empire.  It always amazed me that he didn't understand why the British were so despised by their colonial subjects.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Children 6

This is it.  The end of this series.  I'm bored, bored, bored, posting kiddie pictures.

No name or date on this one.  The last 101 Dalmatians movie came out in 1996, but that's not a very reliable indicator when dealing with Disney.  Those guys get every last cent from their properties.   My best guess is anywhere from the mid-nineties to, well now.   It makes me wonder how this ended up in the grab bag of photos.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Children 5

Similar pose, and same subject as the last post, but a different person.  All the images in this sequence are from the grab bag of photos, so this one could be from the same family.  Or then again, it could be a coincidence.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Children 4

I know a fair amount about the history of religion, but not a lot about the day to day practice of religion.  I think this real photo post card is a photograph of a young boy who has just been confirmed in his church.  At least that is what it was called in the church my mother made me attend before she realized that I was a hopeless case.

Stamped on the back, "LA PHOTOBROME 42, rue Van Osst-1-517.74  BRUXELLES."  Brussels, Belgium, I assume.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Children 3

I wanna play in the mud!  Me too!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Children 2

Did she grow up a proper young lady, or did she grow up wild?  I'd love to now.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Children 1

I'm not real big on pictures of children, but I do end up with some in the collection.  A few months ago I bought the grab bag of pictures, 100+ photos in an sealed envelope, purchased blind.  So, I'm going to put up some of the kid images from the envelope in the next few days.  Hard to tell when this one was taken.  Originally black & white, hand colored by the studio.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Burgert Brothers of Tampa, Florida

Take a close look at the lower right hand corner to see the photographers mark, "photo by Burgert Bros. Tampa 360316"   Photography and the United States have an interesting history.  Unlike Europe, a lot of American history happened after the invention of photography.   There were the big things.  The Civil War was well documented by photographers like Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner who followed the campaigns with their large format cameras, while the individual soldiers went in for tintypes and cartes de visite to send back home.

The Burgert family represented a very different type of history.  The first Burgert, Samuel, showed up in the Tampa area of Florida when it was little more than a local, sparsely populated fishing port.  For ninety years, from the 1870s to the 1960s, the family recorded the rise of a major urban area.  The Burgert Bros, were Samuel's six sons as well as one daughter-in-law.  They took portraits, pictures of businesses, hurricane damage, and anything else that came along.  I found a great article, with pictures, at

The Florida Lumber and Millwork Association was founded in 1920 as a trade group and is now known as the Florida Building Material Association.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Destruction of Hattonchatel

When I saw the back of this card, I knew there was no point in trying a translation.  The handwriting is too small and run together.  If someone wants to have a go at it, be my guest.

The Chateau de Hattonchatel is located in the commune of Vigneulles-les-Hattonchatel in the Meuse department of France.  (Glad I got through that)  The site was originally fortified in in 860 by Hatto, the Bishop of Verdun.  Built on a promontory overlooking the Seine River Valley, it was the chief stronghold of the bishops until 1546.  The castle was destroyed in 1918 during World War 1.  After the war it was reconstructed between 1923-1928.  Today it's a hotel, conference and wedding center.  I'm a little puzzled why someone would want to memorialize the destruction of a 958 year old building.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bad Natalie

Natalie Wood look-a-like ignores dying granny.  Bad Natalie!  Printed, "AUG 72"

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Please Visit Me

 I've had a few problems with this postcard.  I'm  fairly certain that I've got the message right, but the names and address....let's just say that my handwriting is better and I've got lousy handwriting.

This card is postmarked, "FAYETTE CITY, PA 5 PM 1911"  It's addressed to "Miss Bella Kahoir (?) 935 Terrace (?) Str., McKeesport, Pa."  And the message, "Dear Sister, When is any one of you coming out to se me love all Moroi (?)"

For someone like me who grew up in coal country, western Pennsylvania, this is a fascinating card.  Fayette City is the sight of a legendary coal mining disaster.  On December 7, 1907, an explosion at the Naomi Mine killed 34 miners.  Fayette City was, and still is, a pretty small town.  Those 34 deaths pretty much wiped out the working age, male population of the community.  Perhaps Bella moved to McKeesport, a mill town on the Monogahela River, south of Pittsburgh after the disaster.  Perhaps Moroi had married a miner and moved to Fayette City. In either case, there's a good chance  that one of the sisters, possibly both, lost a husband, or father or brother in the mines.

When I was in high school, we had to take a course in Pennsylvania history.  I can remember spending a couple of weeks going over mill and mine disasters.  In 1907, most coal companies would have given the family of a dead miner a few hundred dollars, a months free rent in company owned housing and then that family would have been evicted and left to fend for itself.  If a young widow didn't find another husband or a job of her own it was starvation, homelessness or prostitution.

The lady on the card is Phyllis Dare, and English stage actress born in 1890, died 1975.  She was noted for her work in musicals.