Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Famous Sunshine Benches of St. Petersburg

Florida, not Russia.  It's amazing how an old postcard can lead you into the depths of strange, useless trivia.  I went to Google and typed in sunshine benches, St. Petersburg, not really expecting much.  I figured this card was nothing more than an advertisement for a bank, First Federal Savings, painted on the one bench. Was I wrong.  St. Petersburg was once was known as the city of green benches.  Way back when, in the first decade of the twentieth century, a local real estate agent put a couple of green benches in front of his office.  They became so popular with passers by, that in 1916, the St. Pete city council decided to install benches all over the downtown business district, that they all had to be green, and they all had to be the same size.  Now I can't imagine that sitting on a bench, next to parked cars, in Florida, especially in the summer was a pleasant experience, but it seems my imagination is a bit faulty on this one.  But unforeseen problems do have a habit of rearing their ugly head.  It seems that the benches attracted the wrong sort of people.  No, not criminals.  Not drug dealers.  Not unruly teens, smoking and making rude comments to proper young ladies.  The benches attracted the elderly.  Old people sitting in the sun, not spending money.  Just imagine, old people in Florida!  In the early sixties, someone on the city council came up with the bright idea of painting the benches in pastels.  Surely orange, yellow, and pink benches would attract shoppers with money to spend.  Didn't work.  In 1967, by order of the city, all the benches were removed.  The old people did not go away.  And that is how civilizations fall.

The message on the back, "Feb 12th Hope you are feeling fine again from your opperation the 16th we are going over to visit the Pedricks.  I am having a nice time and feeling fine.  We are having a lot of rain. Love Aunt Irene."  Mailed to "Mr. & Mrs. B. J. March & Buddy, Road, Schwenksville, R.D. 2, Pa."  And the postmark, "PINELLAS PARK, FLA  FEB. 13, 1964"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lana Turner

Imagine.  It's the 1940s and you've saved your money so  you can visit Hollywood.  You go to the restaurants you've read about in the fan magazines.  You hang out at the studio gates, and take the tour bus to the home's of the stars.  And in the end, the only movie stars you see are the ones on the postcards sold at the corner news stand.  Remember, it's Hollywood, where people make up stories for a living.  The folks back home can be told anything, and who's the wiser.

Oh Lana Turner, what a life she lead.  Born in 1921 in Wallace, Idaho, as Julia Jean Turner, she moved with her family to sunny southern California when still a child.  No, she wasn't discovered at Schwab's Drug Store, but at a small cafe near Hollywood High School.  The rewards of skipping class.  She made a lot of movies in her career, and by any standard  was a successful actress.  A lot of those films were good movies and a couple have withstood the test of time.  Most notably, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), and Imitation of Life (1959).  Unlike a lot of glamour girls, Turner could act, and while the parts disappeared as she aged, she never officially retired.  Eventually she would make her way to television and make a notable turn on the night time soap, Falcon Crest.  Her last movie was Thwarted, a low budget film made in Florida.  It was made in 1991, just a few years before her death in 1995.

Lana Turner also had an adventurous private life, going through seven husbands, and more than a few lovers.   To put it mildly, she didn't always make the best choices.  There were husbands that hadn't gotten around to divorcing previous wives.  Physically abusive husbands, including one, actor Lex Barker, who was alleged to have  raped Lana's teen aged daughter, Cheryl Crane.  And then there was boyfriend, Johnny Stomponato.  Stomponato was a gangster and member of the Mickey Cohen crime family.  Lana and Johnny took up  in 1957.  Lana tried to break things off, but Johnny Stomponato wasn't the type of man to leave when asked.  In 1957, Lana took a part in a movie being made in England, Another Time, Another Place, opposite a young Sean Connery.  Johnny followed her to England and  confronted Connery with a gun.  Sean Connery decked Stomponato with one punch, disarmed him, and turned him over to the police.  When Lana Turner returned to Hollywood, Johnny Stomponato was waiting for her.  And then he was dead, stabbed to death in Lana Turner's house.  The official story is that Stomponato was beating her and that Lana's daughter, Cheryl, stabbed Stomponato, defending her mother's life.  But of course, it's a Hollywood story, so there are rumors of murky cover-ups.  The most popular is that Lana and Johnny had reconciled, that things had gotten rough, and that Lana did the stabbing, and that after consultation with studio lawyers and publicity men, it was decided that Cheryl should take the blame to save her mother's career.  In 1958, the  DA decided that Cheryl Crane's actions were justified and no charges were filed.

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Want What I Want...

...When I Want it.  I'm not even going to try and make out what's written on the back of this card.  It's just too faded.  I'd criticize the writer for not using a more permanent ink, but then again, the writer probably assumed that this card would be thrown away fairly quickly.  I wonder just how racy this was when it was purchased.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Aunt Fronia

I bought this real photo postcard at the same time, and from the same dealer, as the previous post.  The handwriting on the back is similar, but in my opinion, not a close enough match to be sure that they are related.  And the caption, "Aunt Fronia Kerney and half sister Laura."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Little Pauline

Another real photo postcard.  Labeled "Pauline Fay Buckner."  My mother would go crazy when I sat on a chair like this.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Four Chums

I'm going to do postcards for awhile.  Sooner or latter I'll get tired of it and move on to snapshots, or photo albums, or something else.  But for the time being, it's all postcards all the time.  Just a bit on dating early postcards.  Up until 1898, the U.S. Post Office, in the United States, had a monopoly on the printing of postcards.  After 1898, private publishers and individuals were allowed to make cards, but the post office retained control over the term postcard so privately produced cards were referred to as private mailing cards.  After 1901, the post office ceded it's exclusive use of the word postcard.  Up until 1907, it was against postal regulations to write anything on the back of a card, except the address.  Cards had undivided backs, lacking the line that divided the address from the area allowed for messages.  So, this is a privately produced card, labeled postcard, with an undivided back, so it should have been made between 1901 and 1907.  That is if the person who printed this card hadn't saved a box of card stock for a decade or two.

Written on the back, "Ruby"

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Five Men, One Woman

Here's a nice little group photo.  Take a look at the lady's feet, all at odd angles.  In the age when ladies wore voluminous skirts, they could be seated in a photo and it would look like they were floating in air.  I'm sure this woman has to seated, but with her clothing hiding the chair, she has the quality of a levitating magicians assistant.  Perhaps she'll float away into the nether regions.  And what a collection of hats.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mother and Son

I should have put this one up yesterday.  We're supposed to be patriotic on inauguration day, and we do equate the military with patriotism.  Every time I see an image of a soldier with his mother,  I always wonder if he came back alive.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Lady Violinist

My favorite violinists are Stuff Smith, Stephane Grappelli, and Regina Carter.  If you don't know who they are, you're not a jazz fan.  From the forties or fifties, I would think.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Come on in the water's fine.

It's the middle of winter, so I thought I'd just put up a reminder of the summer ahead.  This real photo postcard was addressed to. "Miss Alberta Simmonds, Clinton, Tenn." but never stamped or mailed.  I guess Clinton was small enough back then that a street address wasn't necessary.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Strike Up the Band

No names, dates, or locations on this one, and it's hard to guess based on a band uniform.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Writing Away

This one is strangely fascinating to me.  It's dated "12/25/71" and with the open gifts strewn around, you'd think she's writing thank you notes.  But then I took a second look, and I wondered who would write a thank you note on a legal pad.  Anyway, in an age when writing cursive is a disappearing skill, I like looking at pictures of people writing.  In my grade school, one of the exercises we used to learn cursive was the writing of letters.  Another disappearing skill.  Now it's all a couple of quick lines in an email.  The tech age doesn't know what it's loosing.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Camera Couple and The Third Wheel

I do love my photographs of photographers.  I've just gone through one of my favorite reference books, 500 Cameras, 170 Years of Photographic Innovation by Todd Gustavson and the closest match I can find to the lady's camera is a No. 4 Screen Focus Kodak, Model A, first made in 1904.  Of course, once a company made a nice camera, it wasn't long until another company came up with a copy.  And the man's camera, a bit difficult to see down there between his legs, looks like it might be a Kodak Autographic first made in 1916.  I have one in my collection and a number of others that look pretty much the same.  Oh well.  Now, is the third person their model, or just the guy that they couldn't ditch before heading out on a camera outing?  Maybe his camera is on a tripod with a self timer.  Either that, or there's a forth person and with luck the third man's date.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hotel Semiramis, Damascus, Syria, 1955

I admit it.  As postcards go, this one isn't all that impressive.  But, when I saw that it was from Syria, I thought I should pick it up.  The Hotel Semiramis is still in business and, as of right now, taking reservations.  Of course, how much longer that will last is any one's guess.  I've got a funny feeling that a good portion of Damascus will be in ruins before the last of the Assad family flees or is killed.

Printed on the back, "Damascus-Semiramis Hotel"  "Reproduction Interdite Photo Deposee"  Vraie Photographie Printed in Lebanon"  "Photo Sport-Bab Edriss-Souk Seyour-Beyrouth"  The French shouldn't be too surprising.  During the first world war, France and Great Britain publicly supported the Arab revolt, but secretly negotiated the Sykes-Picot Agreement that divided the non Turkish parts of the Ottoman Empire into French and British spheres of interest.  In a nutshell, modern day Lebanon and Syria became de facto French colonies. Lebanon and Syria wouldn't gain their independence until 1948.

There are a number of Semiramis hotels in the eastern Mediterranean and Arab states.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dancing Grannies

Crazy, dancing grannies shuffle off to Buffalo on the steps.  Well, they would if they could.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Life Among the Ruins

I really, really hope that someone out there recognizes the city in the background.  I've been doing Google images and haven't found a match.  Wherever it's from, it's a great picture.  If it were an 8x10, I'd think it a news photo or the work of a fine art photographer.  But it's not.  It's just a bit above wallet size.  A lucky snapshot.  My best guess is eastern Europe after World War 2.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

On Shipboard

Now this is the way to travel.  I hate flying.  I'm not afraid to fly.  I don't worry about crashing and I'm not all that bothered by security.  But flying is boring.  For hours, you're sealed up in a metal tube, strapped to a seat, and there is no relief until arrival at an airport that could be anywhere in the world. Flying isn't travel, it's transport, and the trip doesn't really start until the airport is a good ten miles in the rear view mirror. After all, what can be done with an airport.

 But travel by car, train, or ship is a whole other thing.  I've been across the English Channel a couple of times and Port Angeles to Victoria more times than that.  Wandering around, going out on deck, talking to people, and being able to walk away if the conversation isn't worth the time.  I've never been on one of the big cruise ships, and quite frankly, I'd prefer to miss that experience.  But I'd love to wander around the world on one of the smaller, older ones still in service, and a state room on an old transport ship....I'm not sure that's possible anymore, but one can hope.

Friday, January 4, 2013


But what is she eating?  I thought grapes, but grapes come in bunches.  Whatever it is, this lady likes them, and I do think it's the same lady, photographed a decade or so apart.  Stamped on the back of the second photo, "V Sutras-Tartu"  I assume a photographers name, but who knows these things.   And, I'm guessing Europe.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The North Texas State Normal College Album 14

Click on NTSNC in the labels section at the bottom of the post to bring up the whole collection.

The North Texas State Normal College Album 13

Without any captions it's impossible to tell who is who in this album.  If the owner was a student at North Texas State, and he or she is pictured, then going be age, I would think that the best bets are the young women in the center group of the second photo.  Just for the hell of it, I'm voting for the standing woman in white.  As usual, click NTSNC in the labels section at the bottom of the post to bring up the whole collection.