Friday, May 31, 2013

There Are Never Too Many Bicycles

This is a weird little photo.  It looks like the whole family has come out to admire the bike.  That's something I can understand.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Living Room Nude

Once again, It's time to embarrass grandma.  As I've noted many times before, I spent decades working in photo labs.  In all the years I printed black & white photos, I never had a weak go by that I didn't print "personal" photos.  There were lots of amateur pin-ups, naked wives and girlfriends, some naked men, the occasional shot of people having sex, and a surprisingly large amount of cross dressing.  Now, I started printing well after the invention of Polaroid instant photography, worked well into the digital age, and pretty much specialized in black & white.  All things considered, I've come to the conclusion that there are hundreds of millions of such photos floating around out there.  So why are they so hard to find?   My theory is that parents die, their kids find that special envelope of images, and it's "Oh my God!  It's naked mom.  Why is dad wearing that designer dress?  They're doing what?"  Those photos don't end up in the family archive, they get, quickly, fed into the shredder.  From my stand point, that's a terrible thing.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Selling Patriotism

It's a coincidence that I started this men in uniform series right before Memorial Day and it's a coincidence that I'm ending it on Memorial Day.  I'm tired of perpetual war, and not inclined to celebrate conflict.  If Memorial Day was a true day of remembrance, that would be one thing.  But mostly it's a self glorification of military strength. First it was World War 2, a necessary war, then the cold war, with a couple of hot chapters (Korea and Vietnam) thrown in.  Grenada, multiple Gulf wars and now the war on terror.  I'm sick of it and wish someone would stand up and say enough is enough.

Now that my rant is over, it's time to move on to a major pet peeve of mine.  Selling product by selling patriotism.  I especially hate the wounded warriors showing up in advertising.  Buy this truck, it's strong like this guy who was unlucky enough to be hit by an IED.  Just disgusting.  Of course, if the economy wasn't being looted by the Wall Street crowd, maybe lower middle class and poor kids wouldn't have to join the military, and then they wouldn't get  wounded and show up in ads.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Medic, The Army Doctor

I had to use my best magnifying glass on this real photo postcard to make out the Caduceus on this soldiers collar.  The Caduceus (Actually it's a rod of Asclepius, but since everyone thinks Caduceus, I'm stickin' with that.) is the modern symbol for a doctor.  I always have to wonder how prepared a doctor is for war.  In the United States, before World War 1, a doctor might have had to deal with everything from a baby born in a tenement apartment, to polio, to streetcar accidents.  And then World War 1 comes along, and it's machine gun fire,  high explosives, and poison gas.  And as a bonus, as the war ends, the Spanish flu pandemic begins.  And for those who make light of the flu, the official death toll, at the time, was 30 million dead world wide, over 18 months.  Many modern historians, however, believe that the actual numbers were somewhere between 100 and 120 million dead.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fort Howard

And so we continue with the men in uniform series, today going a bit back in time from the last post, to the World War 1 era.  Written on the back, "Baltimore, Maryland, Fort Howard."  Fort Howard started out as an unnamed coast artillery battery, built in 1896,  at North Point, in Baltimore County.  One would think that in 1896 the United States would have little fear from a naval attack, but we had just gone through a crisis with the nation of Chili.  And no, it's not as silly as it sounds.  In the 1890s, Chili had the largest navy in the Pacific and was thought  a formidable threat to our security.  More so on the west coast, but still, the Chesapeake is the gateway to Washington, D.C.  In 1902, Theodore Roosevelt's Secretary of War, Elihu Root renamed the battery, Fort Howard, after Revolutionary War general, John Edgar Howard.  In 1940, Fort Howard was closed and the property was turned over to The Veteran's Administration.  In 1975, the portions of the property that contained the original battery was turned over to Baltimore County for use as a park.  The rest of the property is still owned and used by The Department of Veteran's Affairs.  And if anyone cares about our dispute with Chili, I'd suggest looking up the Baltimore incident, which had nothing to do with the city of Baltimore.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Home On Leave

This one's dated "Mar 44."  D-Day was a few months away, and victory a little more than a year.  If this young man was a new recruit, he was probably on leave before being sent to a replacement camp, perhaps Camp Croft, mentioned in yesterday's post.

To me, though, it's his grandfather (Or perhaps great-grandfather.) that draws my eye.  I'm trying to figure out just how old he could have been when this picture was taken.  If he was eighty, he was born in the last year of the Civil War, had lived to see the Spanish-American War, World War 1, as well as all the Indian wars of the great plains.  And judging by the background, more than likely, he  witnessed some of those battles.  And then there was the invention of the light bulb, movies, radio, and the airplane.  The dust bowl and the great depression.  And if he lived a few years after this photo was taken, atomic weaponry, and jet aircraft.  May you live in interesting times.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Camp Croft

I wrote in my last post that photographs of men in uniform were quite common and that I had a lot in the collection.  In the next three or four posts I'm going to put up a few of the ones that have yet to see the light of day.

This print was once pasted to something, and when it was removed from that backing things got a bit damaged.  There is a stamp on the back, but it's only partly readable, but enough is  there that I was able to figure out that this photo was taken by E.A. Beeks from Spartanburg, South Carolina.  Well, the man in this photo looks to be from the World war 2 era, so a quick search, and I found out that there was an army infantry replacement camp just outside Spartanburg.  Camp Croft was open from 1940 to 1946, and as the name implies, soldiers were sent there and waited to be shipped out to replace combat casualties.  A lot of men passed through Camp Croft.  Some of them went on to fame in civilian life, including Nelson Riddle, Hoyt Wilhelm, Zero Mostel, Henry Kissinger, Alan Cranston, and Spiro T. Agnew.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Submariner

Am I wrong about this?  My first thought on seeing this print, "Just another guy in a uniform."  I've got so many in the collection, that I don't really look for them anymore.  But, if I see something interesting.... And on  closer inspection, I began thinking this is interesting, that this gentleman was standing on the deck of a very early submarine.  

Now, I suppose early sub is open to debate.  I've been doing a little reading on the history of America's submarine fleet, and early could refer to the Turtle, the colonial navy's secret weapon during the Revolutionary War.  Then there was our two sub fleet from the Civil War, the Alligator, and my favorite ship's name of all time, the Intelligent Whale.  (The Hunley was a Confederate sub, and doesn't count.)  For the record, the Alligator sank in a storm while being towed into battle.  A ship with a propeller turned by a hand crank would have taken too long to get into position otherwise.  The Intelligent Whale was tested, but never used, and is currently on display at The National Guard and Militia Museum of New Jersey.  

It wasn't until the early twentieth century that world navies began building true submarine fleets.  But which model is the one in this photo?  The fact is, there just isn't enough of the sub in the picture to match it up to anything I've been able to find on the web.

Anyway, the thing about early twentieth century submarines,  they had a tendency to sink.  Sometimes a captain would make the mistake of going too deep and water pressure would crush the hull.  Sometimes a hatch would fail, or a sub, pre-sonar, would run into something in the water.  I have a book by Commander Richard Ellsberg that's about an attempt to save the crew of a sunken sub using hard hat divers.  The cover can be seen on my other blog,, posted 11/25/12.  The book was published in 1939, before the invention of the scuba tank.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Washer Women

 Those of us who've spent some time in the deserts of California will recognize where these women are standing.  Not an exact location of course.  More than likely there's a housing tract there now.   These three ladies are standing in a wash.  A desert wash is where the water goes after a sudden, desert rainstorm.  The mountain in the background would be where the flash flood happens, and the flat bare area is were the water spreads and percolates down into the water table.  There's nothing like the smell of the desert after a good rain.  From the late twenties to the early thirties would be my guess

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Drunk Girls

When someone poses with a beer bottle, you can bet they're on the way to drunkenness.  They might not get there, but they're on the way.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Another Bad Tint Job

There are a lot of really nice, hand tinted photographs out there (Click on hand colored photos in the labels section to see a few.), but many of them have the corpse like pallor of this one.  Still, I find it an interesting image.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Uncle Edd the Perv

I wonder how old the recipient of the postcard was.  In an America where the majority of people still lived on farms, and urban dwellers lived in cities where there were still plenty of horses, most  would have  understood what was being implied by this card.  Perhaps a small child wouldn't understand, but I'm not sure that would make it any better.  Who ever said that America in 1912 was pure and unsullied?

Written on the back, "Tuesday evening.  It is just 8 o'clock.  We expect Faith home for a day or so tonight.  Got your mother's letter all right hope you are gaining every day hope you will not miss much school.  Uncle Edd, all well."  Addressed to "Pearl Ober, Bradford Center, Maine"  Postmarked, "LOWELL, MASS SEP 11 10:30 AM  1912"

Poor Pearl, sick and getting hit on by her pervy uncle.  True, in a very round about way, but still....IT'S A PIPE!  Come on, we all know what he meant.

This is another image from the envelope of flirtation postcards that I bought a few weeks back.   It may take months to post all fifty, so I'm adding flirtation in the labels section at the bottom of the posts so anyone that's interested can bring them all up.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Gunner In Hawaii

Written on the back of the photo: "Honolulu in the summer of 1967"

I didn't buy this photo because of it's connection to Hawaii.  No knock on the state, but Hawaii is one of five states I've never visited, and while I'd love to make the trip,  I don't pine for it's blue lagoons.  (Does Hawaii have lagoons?)  I picked up this image because the man looks like Bob Prince.

For those without a Pittsburgh connection, Bob "The Gunner" Prince was the longtime voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and for me, a cherished childhood memory.  Prince was born in Los Angeles, my current home, in 1916.  His father was in the army,  so L.A. wasn't home, so much as a stop on an ever changing map.  Prince would become a Pittsburgher latter in life, graduating from Schenley High in the North Oakland neighborhood of the city.  (Andy Warhol was also a Schenley High grad.)  A star swimmer at The University of Pittsburgh, after graduation, Prince went into broadcasting, and in 1948 joined the Pirate broadcast team as color man for Rosy Rosewall, taking over the top spot for the team when Rosewall died in 1955.  In 1969, broadcast rights for the Pirates had passed from Atlantic Richfield to Westinghouse Broadcasting, and Bob Prince never got along with his new employers.  For five years, the Pirate organization intervened every time Westinghouse tried to get rid of him, but in 1975, they gave up defending him, so Prince and his broadcasting partner Nellie King, were shown the door.  Prince did a year with the Houston Astros before being fired.  He also did part of a season on ABC's Monday Night Baseball broadcasts, but was let go when he attacked management, on air, for not letting him call games the way he wanted to.  He did radio for NHL,  Pittsburgh Penguins for part of a season, but he didn't know the game and had trouble with French Canadian names, so that didn't work out either.  In 1982, he returned to the Pirates, calling a handful of games on a cable station, and returned to start the 1985 season on radio only.  Bob Prince didn't finish the season, but not because of disputes with his employers.  A heavy smoker, Bob Prince died of mouth cancer, mid season.

The official story on Bob Prince's nickname, The Gunner, was as a reference to his fast, staccato style of speech.  The unofficial story is that he had a near miss from a gun totting, jealous husband.

Prince was a colorful presence in the broadcast booth.  He had a love of really bad sports jackets, a tendency to give nicknames to  players, and was the inventor of more than a few colorful phrases.  If the Pirates were down by a couple of runs, we needed a "bloop and a blast." When Roberto Clemente came to the plate it was, "Arriba, Arriba."   Clemente hated that one, considering it a bit racist.  I can remember an interview he did with Hank Aaron, where he suggested that once Aaron tied Babe Ruth's all time home run record, he should retire mid game and not risk hitting number 716.  Hank looked somewhat baffled at that one.  And of course, Bob Prince invented the Green Weenie, a green plastic rattle,  modeled after the souvenir pin given out by Heinz to those who took the pickle factory tour.  The Green Weenie was closer to the size of a foot long hot dog, and well, to put it mildly, a lot of fans thought of it as a green penis.  I know I did.  Hey, I was a teenager, what do you expect.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Eileen Heckenbach Loved the Accordion 3

Perhaps this post should have been titled Eileen Heckenbach loved HER accordion.  I don't know who Hal was, but he knew that Eileen was an aspiring, professional accordionist.  So who was Eileen, and did she make it in the world of accordion professionals?  Well, I ran Eileen and I got a couple of hits.  Not much information and there wasn't anything about music in what I found.  I don't even know if it was the same Eileen Heckenbach. For what it's worth, An Eileen Heckenbach was born in Chicago in 1923.  That means that the dated photo of Anthony Galla-Rini from the first of these posts was inscribed when she was 17 years old.  I also found an Eileen Heckenbach Retzke, the wife of Norbert Retzke.  All three of the photos in this series had pin holes.  I think Eileen had these photos up on her bedroom wall.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Eileen Heckenbach Loved the Accordion 2

Who was William Switzer?  Well, obviously he was an accordionist, but I would loved to have gotten something else on the man.  I checked IMDB, IMBD, Google, The American Accordionist's Association, and even tried EBay, thinking there might be some old 78 for sell.  But, nothing?  Maurice, the photographer,  is most likely Maurice Seymour.  Click the name in the labels section to come up with some other examples of his work.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Eileen Heckenbach Loved the Accordion 1

Anthony Galla-Rini was an American accordionist born in 1904.  At the age of four, he was part of his father's Vaudeville act.  In time, Galla-Rini would master twelve instruments including the accordion.  In 1924, he quit his father's act in a salary dispute and formed a new act with his sisters.  In 1932, he left the act and opened an accordion studio in San Francisco.  In addition to teaching, he also began composing and arranging for the accordion.  Within a few years, Galla-Rini and his wife and son moved to New York City to be closer to the music publishers located in the city.  In 1938, he founded The AAA, The American Accordionist's Association.  In 1941, he composed the Accordion Concerto in G Minor (No. 1) which premiered with The Oklahoma City University Symphony Orchestra.  In 1942, he returned to California, formed a rumba band which headlined the Trocadero in Los Angeles.  He also began a long career composing music and performing for the movies.  In 1976, he returned to classical music with the Accordion Concerto in G Minor (No. 2).  In 1983 he composed the Sonata in D Minor For Accordion.  Anthony Galla-Rini died in 2006, aged 102.

The Apeda Studio was in business in New York City from 1906 to 1990.  It was founded by Alexander W. Dreyfoos, the photographer, and Henry Obstfield, the businessman.  With it's industrial developers and mechanized postcard printers, the Apeda Studio was an immediate success.  Like many studios servicing the theatrical community, Apeda, and it's staff of photographers sold prints to the general public of their sitters.  They also bought up the negatives of their competitors as well as making copies of photographs distributed by other photo studios, going so far as removing other studio logos and replacing them with the Apeda mark.  Dreyfoos and Obstfield would eventually be sued for violating the copyright of rival The White Studios.  Apeda won by arguing that copyright was the property of the sitter, and not the photographer.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Family Tree

The seller referred to them as flirtation postcards, an envelope of fifty plus cards, all with a romantic theme.  Needless to say, I won't be posting them all at once.  The ones that are based on photographs will be here, the one that are pure illustration will be on my Fair Use blog.

This card may be a bit flirty, but the message is not.  "Dear Margret, from Albert."  That's it.  I'm thinking poor Albert didn't do too well with the ladies.  There's a second message added on, "P.S. still looking for that letter, Ida."  Addressed to "Miss Margret Bickford, Abbott Vil., ME, RFD."  For those not country enough, RFD stands for Rural Free Delivery.  Yes, you still had to buy a stamp, but the delivery was subsidized so that postal rates were the same as rates within cities, and, like in a city, delivery was to the home of the intended, rather than just to the local post office.  Postmarked, "BANGOR, MAINE FEB 27, 1911, 12:30 PM"

And finally, this is a Theochrom card.  Theochrom was a trade name for the Theodor Eismann Company of Leipzig, Germany and New York, New York.  They were in business from 1908-1914.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The North Texas State Normal College Album 24

Finally, some adults.  And yes, it does snow in Texas.  Click on NTSNC in the labels section to bring up the lot.

The North Texas State Normal College Album 23

That's one strange looking doll in the first picture.  I've never understood the relationship between girls and their dolls.  I know women my age (58) who can remember, in detail, their dolls.  I have vague memories of Tonka trucks and green army soldiers, but not in the detail I've heard adult women describe their favorite doll.

Click on NTSNC in the labels section to bring up everything.

The North Texas State Normal College Album 22

I've noticed that almost every little girl from this era of photos has the same haircut.  Strange.  The black spot in the middle photo is a hole in the negative, not a UFO

Click on NTSNC in the labels section to bring up the whole collection.

The North Texas State Normal College Album 21

Once again, it's time to delve into the North Texas State Normal College photo album.  After all this time and all the photos, I've finally got a caption.  "Doris & Douglas Neves"  Little Doris does not look happy to be photographed.

As usual, click on NTSNC in the labels section to bring up the whole album.  And for those interested, I'm nearing the end.  I won't finish the album with today's posts, but I'm getting there.  And then, it's on to the loose photos that were shoved in the album.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why Are They Wearing Boots?

Take a closer look.  The men are also wearing spurs.  They've been out riding.  A picture from the years when horse riding went from being a way of getting around to recreation for the well to do.