Saturday, March 30, 2013
For all you Wizard of Oz fans out there, and no, I don't mean the James Franco version.
Winter is almost over. We might get the occasional snow storm, but realistically, spring is in the air. I started first grade in 1960, and it wasn't until I was in junior high that girls were allowed to wear pants to school, and that was only when the temperature went below freezing. Once the snow started melting, it was back into dresses and skirts. It took a few more years after that before the dresses or skirts requirement for girls was finally dropped. Half of the student body was not happy. It looks like these photographs were taken sometime in the late forties through mid fifties. I'd bet that the woman in these photos never got to wear pants to school.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Well, the title of this post is what's written on the back. Yes, it's almost Easter and just in case I'm not able to post anything this Sunday, I'm putting this one up know. I have to say, when I was a kid I hated Easter. I've never been a believer. Even as a child, I didn't see the sense of religion. Despite that disbelief, my mother made me go to church. Happily I had an out. My believing mother was like a lot of Christians. Her church attendance was limited to the big religious holidays, so I was free to skip out the back door. But on Easter, it wasn't just the risk of being ratted out by my sister, it was Mom sitting next to me in the pew with that be a good boy or else glare.
I hope they took the dog with them. I still wouldn't have been a believer, but I might have been willing to sit through Sunday school and those long, boring sermons if I could have taken my dog.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Post number 900. I never thought I'd get this far. I started going through the collection looking for something really special for this post, but kept coming back to this not so special hand colored studio portrait. The reason...I thought she was attractive. Written on the back, "Elizabeth Roulson, daughter of Beulah Ellington Perry-Kem's cousin. Second cousin."
I love photographs of people taking photographs. There were, at least, three people with cameras on the day when this photo was taken, perhaps even more. A favorite category. Take a close look. The man is not alone. A woman's leg can be seen behind him.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Thursday, March 21, 2013
No, not the TV show. Written on the back, "Glee Club Chino." Chino is a city in western San Bernardino County, California, just south of Ontario. Chino is not noted for it's glee club, but for it's two state prisons. One for men, one for women. Perhaps some of the club members descendants currently are inmates.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Friday, March 15, 2013
This is "Jack, 16, Clifton, Kansas" I'll bet when he saw this little hand colored gem he wasn't happy. No doubt his mother showed it to him, and he said, "Aw mom, you can't show that to anyone. It looks like I'm wearing lipstick." And, no doubt, his mother replied, "Don't be silly. No one will think that." And then she showed it to all his aunts, and uncles, and every other family member. But did she show it to his first girlfriend? Probably. The colorist made some unfortunate choices.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
There is something wonderfully theatrical about this one. Of course, Fort Dodge, Iowa isn't exactly a center of the theater arts. With the parasol off to the side and the young lady wagging her finger at the camera, well it's just a great composition. A rare find in a cabinet card.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Once again, we return to the strange nineteenth century custom of dressing little boys as girls for the first four or five years of their lives. I've run across a number of explanations for this practice and the only one that ever made sense to me was that boys needed maternal attention before they became little men. So mother's daughter to father's son. Hey, it's something, even if it's not right.
Monday, March 11, 2013
These cabinet cards, at least to me, are far more interesting for what's on the back, rather than the photo itself. It didn't happen often, but every once in awhile, when I worked at the photo lab, someone would bring in some old glass negatives and were surprised when I told them that I could blow them up, or reduce them down without having to make a same size contact print and then a modern copy negative. It is nice to see on the J. R. Pearson card an offered service of prints made from locket size to life size. Too, hand colored with ink, crayon or water color, for those who have wondered what kind of pigments were used for the many hand colored photos floating around out there. As a matter of fact, a photo supply store I use, Freestyle Photographic Supplies in Los Angeles still offers oil pencils and water color for hand tinting. Haven't tried it myself, but who knows what the future holds.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
I'll be putting up some cabinet cards over the next few days or so. Some will hold interest only for those fascinated by nineteenth century portraits, and a couple will have other things going for them. I wasn't able to find anything about the Kauffman photo studios of York, Pennsylvania, but I did find some other examples of his (Unlikely for the time period, but possibly her.) work. None were out of the ordinary.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Old photographs do present some mysteries, and this one is a beaut. There is an "Agfa Lupex" water mark on the back of this print. The particular version of the logo dates from 1935 to 1945. The name, "Willi Bergins" is also written on the back. Agfa was a German company then, and Willi is a common German name, so can we conclude that this is a German, as opposed to a Norwegian or Swedish photo? If so, things get interesting fast, because that would make this a photo of a Nazi youth group of some kind, most likely the League of German Girls, or the Bund Deutscher Madel, the BDM.
Hitler Youth groups go right back to the beginning of the party, but it wasn't until 1929 that a separate branch for young girls was formed, The Sisterhood of German Girls. In 1932, it was reorganized as The League of German Girls, the BDM. In 1933, all youth groups not affiliated with The Hitler Youth were banned. I thought I could confirm the organization by matching the symbol on the pennant. I Googled as many combinations of German girls, Hitler Youth, and BDM I could think of and couldn't find a match anywhere. So are these girls, happy young Nazis, out on a picnic, musical instruments in hand, or are they something else all together? Who knows.
The Hitler Youth, including the BDM had several leaders including Baldur von Schirach. Schirach had an American mother, with ancestry that first came to North America on the Mayflower. At least one of his ancestors, Arthur Middleton, signed The Declaration of Independence, and another was governor of Pennsylvania. In 1934, the BDM got it's own leader, Trude Mohr. Mohr resigned in 1937 when she married and the position of leadership fell to Dr. Jutta Rudigar. Bad luck for her as she was the one who had to answer for war crimes. (Schirach was sentenced to twenty years in prison for his part as Gauleiter of Vienna and the deportation of Austrian Jews to concentration camps.) In 1945, as the Soviet army entered Berlin, members of the BDM were called out to defend the city. Few survived. The BDM was banned by the allies in 1945.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
So, how did the ukulele get it's name? Well, I've got two stories on that one, and the first is the better known of the two. Ukulele is from the Hawaiian and it roughly translates as jumping flea. One would normally think that because the instrument is so small and the strumming movement so fast that it would recall the insect, and that is part of it. But, there is just a hint of British imperialism that goes along with that version of the story. It seems that King Kalakaua employed Edward William Purvis, one of those ubiquitous Englishman, imperialist adventurer turned mercenary, in his officer corps. Unlike the rest of the King's retainers, Purvis was a very small person, and full of nervous ticks. He was also a lover of the instrument, and played rapidly. His Polynesian comrades liked to make fun of him behind his back. He was the jumping flea, and the name got transferred to the instrument. The other story is a lot less interesting, and much more likely to be true. It comes from Queen Lili'uokalani, the last monarch of Hawaii. According to her, the name comes from two Hawaiian words, uku, which translates as gift and lele, which means to come. Therefore ukulele means the gift that came here.
And while we're on the subject of Hawaiian rulers, the next time a Texan says, "Well, after all, Texas was the only state that was once an independent country, and that's why we're so special," remind them of Hawaii.
So, even though the ukulele is thought of as an Hawaiian instrument, it's origins are actually Portuguese. It was very popular with Portuguese whalers and they may have introduced the uke to the islands. (There was also a wave of Portuguese immigration to Hawaii in the late nineteenth century, an alternate explanation.) In the nineteenth century, the Hawaiian Islands were at the center of the world's whaling industry. With the Atlantic hunting grounds all but exhausted, European and American whalers were forced to seek their prey in the Pacific Ocean. The waters around Hawaii were teaming with whales, and unfortunately for the native Hawaiians, they were rather friendly and welcoming of strangers. The Hawaiians got the ukulele from Portuguese sailors, (Or settlers.) as well as a whole host of western diseases, land taken and carved up among sugar interests, an overthrow of their government, and a certain amount of cultural corruption.
Fun fact about Hawaiian music. In 1929, Hawaiian born Yukihiko Haida went to Japan, his parents homeland, and formed The Moana Glee Club, a band that played Hawaiian music. Their popularity soared and ukulele music became very popular in Japan. During World War 2, the Japanese government attempted to suppress American music. Jazz, big band, and Hawaiian music were targeted as degenerate forms of expression. Despite the imperial government's best efforts, Hawaiian music retained it's popularity throughout the war. In 1959, Haida, still living in Japan, formed The Nihon Ukulele Association. Today, Japan is a hotbed of Hawaiian music and culture.
And finally, I have to recommend one of my favorite bands, Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys. Klein, the chanteuse of the ukulele, performs and records songs from the twenties and thirties with the occasional klezmer tune thrown in. Type her name in your favorite search engine and bring up her website. She posts a number of old, vaudeville related photos that are worth seeing.
Written on the back of the photo, "Me and my uke." I'm thinking cabin in the Adirondacks rather than Hawaii.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Another photo of guys hanging out in the snow. This time, I'm guessing about ten to fifteen years latter than those in the last post. Take a look at the guy in the middle. He bears a slight resemblance to one of the guys seen yesterday. Not close enough for a sure fire connection, but I did get all photos from this and the last post from the same source.
Friday, March 1, 2013
College guys from the same frat? That's my guess and I'm stickin' with it. Just a bunch of guys getting ready to go out and face the real world as free and easy adults. Hanging out with the guys at the cabin. A little poker, whiskey, and a cigar or two. I get a late thirties early forties feeling from these pictures, so the world they were about to face would be neither free nor easy.