Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Three Guys Lurking In Garfield Park

I'm abandoning my usual practice of cropping out borders, even decorative ones, because someone was unable to write small enough to keep the labeling out of the image.  Thoughtless!  Well, what do you expect from these three lurkers, who are, very likely, up to no good.  Personally, I suspect they're mashers.

Garfield Park, in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, first opened as Central Park in 1874.  Then it was 40 acres, today it's grown to 184.  It's original design was by landscape architect, William LeBaron Jenney.  In 1881, the name of the park was changed in honor of the recently assassinated president, James A. Garfield.  Garfield Park is also the home of Garfield Park Conservatory.  (No, not a music school, but one of the largest municipal greenhouses in the United States)  In 1905, parks superintendent Jens Jensen, had demolished three small conservatories in the parks system.  With the collaboration of several architects and engineers, he designed the 4.5 acre replacement.  It was built in Garfield Park, with construction lasting from 1906 to 1907.  It's design was meant to mimic the shape of a prairie haystack.  Jensen also designed the building with separate rooms, each meant to invoke a particular landscape.  Some of the oldest plants at the conservatory are a collection of 300 year old giant ferns.  Hmm, isn't that where our three lurkers are lurking?

Time to delve into the world of archaic language.  Today, mashing is known as inappropriate touching if the judge is feeling generous, sexual assault if he(or she) isn't.  Basically, men, mostly young men, would position themselves in some semi hidden place, like a secluded walkway in the Garfield Park Conservatory, where young women would likely pass, and as those women passed, they would reach out and, well, cop a feel.  And yes, mashing was a crime.  Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso, was arrested for mashing in San Francisco a few days before the 1906 earthquake.  I have no idea whether he ever stood trial or not.

A quick confession on the Caruso story.  About two decades ago I read a book on the quake, so I'm going on memory on this one.  I'm just too tired to go online and research details.  To use a favorite term of former Pres, George W., I might be misremembering, so don't quote me without looking it up.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A California Car

Alright, here's the story.  I buy photographs for the collection from a number of sources.  Just recently, I've been making regular visits to a favorite antique mall.  One of the dealers that I think of as the photo guy, even though he sells a lot of non photographic stuff, has been replenishing a tray of snapshots every week or so.  I keep finding square format photos, printed on the same weight paper, from about the same period, with similar landscapes, which looks to be in the San Gabriel Valley, around Pasadena, California.  That doesn't mean they're all from the same family, but I'd say it's pretty probable.  This latest one looks a bit like Harold Lloyd.  For those not familiar with silent movies....don't be lazy, look him up.  All photos that seem related have a special tag in the labels section.  SGV family.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Angry Man

I was doing what collectors of old photographs do.  I was thumbing through a tray of old snapshots in an antique store, when this very small picture caught my eye.  At first, I thought this man was pointing a gun at the camera, but when I pulled out the loupe and took a closer look, I realized his hand was empty.  So why did I think this man was armed?  I think it's because he looks so angry.  For all I know, he was a gentle, easy going guy, but there is something about the way he stares at the lens, his face partly obscured in shadow.  I would think twice before crossing this man.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Walking the Dog On the Beach

You can't walk dogs on the beach anymore, at least not in southern California, and that's where this photo was purchased.  The L.A. area dog population has grown along with the human one.  People may want to walk their dogs by the ocean, but beach goers don't want to step on the waste.  Take a quick look at the background.  Their is a gap in the pier.  There must have been a storm.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Aloha, Bon Voyage, And All That Stuff

It's always problematic trying to read personalities form photographs.  This one presents a rather interesting contrast.  Twins, one crying, with her arms crossed in a classic defensive posture, even for a small child, and the other, all confidence, staring into the camera.  Did little miss confidence push the crier around.  Did she dominate, leading her sibling into all sorts of scrapes.  Or maybe, the crying sister is mad because her parents wouldn't let her stand on the ship's rail.  Maybe the crying child is the dominate one, all angry because she wasn't allowed to go and do something fun,but dangerous.

Note that the sisters are wearing leis.  That doesn't mean they are headed to Hawaii, though.  They could be on a day trip to Catalina or even Nantucket.  From the late forties through early fifties would be my guess.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Playing In California

This one has  a wealth of detail.  The car, the new homes, the photographer's shadow, the the two kids sitting in the wagon.  I'm not sure what prized possession the boy is holding, but the little girl has her doll and it's bed on the ground.  Of course, it also looks like she's about to stomp on her toys.  And finally, the mountains in the background.  The San Gabriels.  I know that notch in the ridge line, so depending on the angle, somewhere in the western end of the San Gabriel Valley, with Pasadena a strong possibility.  Anyway, as noted before, I'm about 95% certain that the photos from the last few posts are all from the same family, so I've gone back and added a new tag in the labels section.  Click on SGV family and they'll all come up.  With luck, I'll find some more photos from this collection  next time I go back to the antique mall, and if I do, I'll reserve the SGV family tag  for them.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Walking To School In California

I doubt there were any school buses when this photo was taken.  Just think, if your parents lived too far from the local school house, no education for you!  This one probably goes with the last post.  Navigate back one for details.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

California Prosperity

I've just been to a favorite antique mall, checked the photo guy's booth, and found three new snapshots, all the same format, same weight paper, and all from the same period.  I'm about 95% certain that they're all from the same family, so I'm going to publish them one right after another.

This first one is the only one with any information on the print.  Stamped on the back, "PRINTED BY MERICK REYNOLDS CO., 222 SO. BROADWAY, LOS ANGELES, CAL."  I did my due diligence and ran a search for Merick Reynolds, but didn't find much.  A couple of other photos with the same stamp, reference to a Merick Reynolds Gallery that showed California landscape paintings, a book, Famous Southern California Scenes, published in 1902 by Merick Reynolds, Jr.,  a listing for him as a photographic agent, and as a photographer in his own right.

And finally, I think these new three photos are also related to my Eating Watermelon post from April 4.  Don't be lazy, scroll back and have a look.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Integrated Army

It's hard to believe, but it wasn't that long ago that the U.S. military was segregated.  White troops and black troops were not allowed to serve in the same unit.  It went beyond that.  African American sailors were only welcome as mess boys, and most black members of the Army were support personnel rather than combat troops.  Things began to change on July 26, 1948 when President Harry Truman signed executive order 9981 ending segregation in the armed forces.  It took awhile, though.  In 1949, Truman asked for the resignation of Secretary of the Army Kenneth Claiborne Royall for his refusal to carry out Truman's directive.  Royall did not live to see a black President.


No names, no date, no location.  Nothing is written on the back of this print.  Probably from the 1920s.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

May You Live In Interesting Times, Lilian Harvey

I'm sure most people have heard the old Chinese curse about living in interesting times.  Well, I'm not sure such a curse ever existed or if it's the invention of some B-movie writer, or if it's all that bad to live in such eras.  In any case, Lilian Harvey lived in interesting times.

Lilian Harvey was born Helene Lilian Muriel Pape in 1906, in London.  Her mother was English, her father was a German businessman.  Not a good combination for the twentieth century. At the beginning of World War 1, Lilian and her parents were living in Magdeburg, Germany.  Unable, or perhaps unwilling to leave, Lilian's parents stayed in Germany, but fearing for their daughter's safety, they sent young Lilian to live with relatives in Switzerland, where she learned to speak French, along with the German and English she already knew.

After the war, she returned to Germany to be with her parents.  After graduating form the German version of high school, she began studying voice and dance at the Berlin State Opera, while also pursuing theatrical work.  She also changed her name to Lilian Harvey.  She danced in revues, sang on stage, acted in plays, and also began working in silent movies.

One of the things about silent movies was that they were an international art form.  A silent movie made in Germany, with translated inter-titles, could play anywhere in the world.  When sound came along, suddenly, there were national cinemas.  Movies made in the large market of the United States, with an audience in other English language markets, continued apace, but  a country like Germany, with a much smaller population, had to adapt.  What the German, as well as other European film industries did, was to film the same movie, in multiple languages, all at the same time.  A situation made for Lilian Harvey.  Thanks to her training, she could sing and dance, her stage experience had given her a  good voice for talkies, and she could speak fluent, unaccented, German, English, and French.  And while these were all advantages, she was also a charming performer, with a gift for light comedy, as well as enough range to handle a dramatic role.  Far more important for a movie actor.

So, with the advent of sound movies, Lilian Harvey became an international star.  Not all of the German actors could work in multiple languages, so Lilian often found herself filming a scene with a German costar, then doing the same scene again with an English, or French actor.  Laurence Olivier's first film role was opposite Lilian in an English version of Hokuspokus.  In the mid thirties, Lilian Harvey accepted an invitation to work at Fox Studios in Hollywood.  She made a few films, none as popular as her European films, so she walked away from George White's Scandals.  The film was a major hit, and her replacement, Alice Faye became a big star.

While Harvey was still popular with German audiences, she had fallen out of favor with the German, Nazi government.  Despite the Nuremberg Laws that made it impossible for Jews to work in film, she continued her friendship with many of her Jewish colleagues.  In 1937, she bailed out her friend, choreographer Jens Keith, who had been arrested for violating Paragraph 175, a Nazi era law criminalizing homosexuality.  While out on bail, Keith fled to Paris.  Lilian Harvey was arrested by the Gestapo, but  released several days latter.  In 1939, Lilian Harvey herself fled Germany, moving to France.  Eventually she was stripped of her German citizenship for entertaining French troops.  Her large real estate holdings and bank accounts were also seized.

In 1942, Lilian Harvey, once again, moved to the United States.  This time there would be no film work.  (Her last films were shot, in France, in 1940.)  She did work on stage, and was also a nurse in Los Angeles.  After the war, she moved to France, where she worked as a singer.  It wasn't until 1949 that she returned to Germany to give a series of concerts.  Her career petered out after that.  Eventually she retired to Antibes on the French Riviera, where she supported herself running a souvenir shop.  She died in 1968, at the age of 62.

The photo is a German tobacco card, from the 1930s.

Friday, April 12, 2013


I've got to stop staying up late to post photographs!  Written on the back, "Summer 1936, Sinai Hospital, Intern's yard, Selma N. Kentberger"  There are quite a few Sinai Hospitals around, so who knows where this one was taken.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Merced Nurse

Stamped on the back, "Walter Studio Photographers, 706 L ST. MERCED   SEP 1941"  When I see those late 1941 dates, I always wonder, "What was their war like?"  Did this nurse stay in Merced, or did she enlist in the military?  Merced is a small city in central California.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Girl In A Knit Hat

Yet another from the hand tinted photo back log.  She's a bit worse for wear, but it's a nice pose and interesting color choices.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

More Poor Children

On February eleven of this year I posted a picture of the woman on the right and her child.  I went back to the same booth at the same antique mall where I purchased the first picture and found this one.  It makes me wonder what other photos of these people will show up in the future.

Friday, April 5, 2013

More Small Photos from Bloomington, Illinois

As promised, more very small photos from Bloomington, Illinois, which may or may not be related to the previous post.

Small Photographs From Bloomington, Illinois

Yet another example of a dealer who broke up a photo album for greater profit for him, and greater frustration for me.  I asked him if he knew anything about these photos and he told me that he thought they were from an album owned by the L.E. Johnson family of Bloomington, Illinois, and he thought that one of these women was named Mildred McClintock, and the man was Paul.  Sadly, he had already sold the pages with captions and was just guessing.  And yes, they are tiny.  The width of the page is less than four inches and the smallest photos are a bit under half an inch square.  At that size, they don't scan well and they blow up even worse.  I've got a few loose pictures that the dealer thinks may go with the album but isn't really sure.  They'll be in the next post.   They're tiny too.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Eating Watermelon

Just a small piece of advice for photographers everywhere....closer!  This one is another California scene.  At least I think it is.  Maybe from the teens, maybe a bit earlier.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Opening Week

Or should I have gone with opening weak?  Well, here I go again, sounding like some crotchety old guy.  But, hey, it's true.  When I was a kid, baseball opening day was a big deal.  Now it's all a mishmash of a week, competing with the NBA and March Madness.  Okay, rant done.

The last couple of years I've marked opening day with a baseball card from the mediocre ranks of ballplayers.  The sort of guy who had a decent career.  A few good years, a few bad years, and a number of years floating around the admirable middle.  Anyway, I didn't have time to go looking for a cheap card, so instead, a collection of girl's softball photos from sunny southern California.

Dated "Sept 66" these images got me  wondering.  When did girls make the transition from being Tomboys, something to grow out of, to women athletes, a way of life?  In L.A., it looks like that transition was already started in 1966.  In my hometown, in rural western Pennsylvania, things were different.  Sports was important  for boys, but not for girls.   We had Pony League for football, Little League for baseball;  Intramural teams in grade school for boys, high school football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, track and field, gymnastics, and cross country.  But for girls...I can't remember anything other than volleyball and cheer leading.  My hometown was pretty conservative, but it wasn't that different from the other small towns in the area.  Thank you Title 9.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bad Parents

Who would do this to their children?  Bad parents, bad!