Friday, October 31, 2014

Dad's Dress

Oh Dad!  That's either one very masculine looking woman, or dad's wearing his dress again.

I've written about this before, but what the hell, let's repeat.  I spent decades working in photo labs, and I never had a week go by when I didn't print some sort of private photograph.  There were a lot of amateur pin-ups, nude wives and girlfriends, the occasional naked man, and once in awhile, people having sex.  But, by far and away, the most common of these pictures were of men dressed as women.  It's not just Halloween.  There are a lot of men, out there, who like to wear dresses, skirts, heels, and makeup all year around.

There's a stamp on the back, "SNAPPY SNAPSHOTS CHEROKEE, IOWA."  Now, photo printers are a bit like doctors, without the code of ethics.  People like to do all sorts of strange, weird, and wonderful things, and they like to take pictures.  In Los Angeles, where I live and worked, it would have been difficult for me to blackmail one of our customers.  Quite frankly, in L.A., nobody cares.  But in Cherokee, Iowa, when this photo was taken, the Snappy Snapshots printer could have held an image like this over dad's head.  And if you think digital takes away the embarrassment risk, just ask Jennifer Lawrence.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Salesman

What is this man selling?  Let's see...Argus slide viewers, a home haircut kit, a Kodak Starflash Camera, typewriters, a clock, a tripod, Shaffer pens, a movie projector, and what looks like some sort of audio equipment in the radio, record player, open reel tape recorder type of stuff.  All things I can remember, and some of which, when I was young, I found amazing.  So, pawn shop or general store?

Not Worth Remembering

Written on the back, "Aunt Liz 2nd husbon."  Apart from the poor spelling, the first think I thought about was how many husbands Aunt Liz had.  The number must have been large enough that her family didn't bother to keep track of their names.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Back Home In Indiana

No, this picture does not go with the last post that was also from Indiana.  I bought them a couple of weeks apart from two different sellers.  Anyway, it's quite a family.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Miss Smith

Written on the back, "Miss Smith and Joy."  Seen on the license plate, "IND 23."  So, Miss Smith is in Indiana, in 1923, hanging out with young Joy.  But what is the relationship? Was Miss Smith a family friend in a more formal age?  Was she a tutor, governess, servant?  The yellow is on the print.  It looks like someone, possibly Joy, tried their hand at  tinting a print, but gave up.  Miss Smith will not be pleased!

Friday, October 24, 2014

See My Car

In my collecting, I've noticed that people love to pose with cars.  This one is dated "July 1920," just a few years after World War 1, and at the beginning of one of the most expansive bubble economies in American history.  There must have been a lot of photos like this one, people posing with cars, that just a few years earlier, they couldn't have purchased.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


This one's labeled "Ferry tender at Cherbourg."  I have no way of knowing, but I hope this photo is from the twenties, the years when the lost generation, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, and many other Americans headed of to Paris to become writers, painters, or drunks.  An era I wish I had seen.

Now, for a bit of shameless self promotion.  Every so often I pick up a few non photographic bits of ephemera.  I also find images from the net that I enjoy visiting from time to time. (Considering my background and interests, it's no surprise that those images are mostly photographs.)  To make things easy, I've put them up on another blog,  For those who have enjoyed this nautically themed post, in the past few months, I've put up an activities schedule from an Italian ocean liner, a passenger list from The Matson Lines, and a nineteenth century oil painting of a S.F. Bay ferry.

Friday, October 17, 2014

An Attractive Couple

I'm not about to scroll back through 1,000 + posts to confirm, but I'm almost certain I've used this title before.  Photos of attractive couples....not exactly uncommon.  Anyway, I'm guessing somewhere in the forties or fifties.  Back when men were well thought of if they bought their wife a fur coat.  Now, it's maybe yes, maybe condemnation and red paint thrown on the mink.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dawson Garage

This one, dated "Oct. 25, 1917," is a rich little picture.  Let's see, a cop, a street cart, a Valvoline Oil sign, Delco Batteries, tires for sale,  a Bell Telephone enameled sign, streetcar tracks, and a palm tree in the background.  And what is a half sole tire?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Camping At the Beach

This one is labeled "Palisades," and since I purchased it here, in Los Angeles, I'm guessing Pacific Palisades in Santa Monica.  Things are a lot different today.  Now, The Palisades, is a very upscale, wealthy, neighborhood.  Except for live-in staff, there aren't many people with an income less than the mid six figures living there.  Too, camping at the beach has become a good way to get arrested.

I get why camping at the beach is a bad idea.  There are too many people in L.A. to allow tents, camp fires, and long term parking along Pacific Coast Highway.  Still, wouldn't it be great to drive to the beach, pitch a tent, and just hang out by the beach for a few days.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

One Piece

They don't make swimsuits like this anymore.  Too bad, I think she's kind of hot.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

3 Girls

There has to be some meaning to this pose.  The dresses and hair bows don't look like everyday wear to my not particularly well informed eye.  Maybe it's the prize petunias they're trying to highlight, or some weird, town celebration.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Tourist Pose

Take a look at The National Geographic, Sunset or Arizona Highways, from the fifties, and you'll see this pose.  Usually, it's a nice couple, looking at someone in native dress or a tour guide, with the attraction  in the background.  Of course, those photos were usually in the super saturated Kodak color films of the day.  I'd be surprised if the person who took this photo wasn't a regular reader of at least one of those magazines.

Written on the back, "Earl & Opal Allred at Calico, Calif. 1956."  I did a quick search for Earl and Opal and found an Earl W. and Opal E., living in Los Angeles, and latter in California City.  But when Ancestry.Com asked for my credit card number...well, that ended things right then and there.

Calico is a ghost town north of Barstow, California.  It's a county park, and a bit more preserved today.  California City is a semi-failed development in the California desert.  The idea was to put hundreds of thousands of people in the Mojave, but those plans fell through when L.A. was reluctant to allow a tap in to the Owens Valley Aqueduct.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shadow Photographer

If a professional photographer had taken this picture, it would have been considered a mistake.  A pro would have put the sun behind his subjects.  No shadow, and no squinting.  Collectors of old snapshots, however, don't see a picture like this as a mistake but as a great find.  That shadow, cutting into the image, is a mystery that draws the eye.  Perhaps professional photographers could learn something from all the amateurs out there who don't worry about the position of the sun.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Polaroid Pin-Up

That's one sexy man beast!

eBay Portraits, the Faded and Damaged One

99 cents and a couple of bucks for shipping.  So, did I get my money's worth?  Had I found this one in a store, maybe $2.  Mostly because I like the weird headdress the little girl is wearing.  I suspect it's something ethnic, rather than a fashion statement.  Maybe a dollar for the one with tape and 50 cents for the damaged, mother daughter portrait.  And I would have probably passed on the reproduction.  On the other hand, I was in an antique mall this afternoon and bought ten snapshots for $5, all of which I prefer to the four eBay portraits.  So, you pay your money and takes your chances, as the Carneys say.

Friday, October 3, 2014

eBay Portraits, The Damaged One

Foxing and an abrasion in the background.  A simple and straight forward mother, daughter portrait.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

eBay Portraits, The Reproduction

In the decades I worked in professional photo labs, my experience printing color....maybe twenty or thirty days, total.  In short, I'm far from being an expert.  I can't tell whether this was made from a copy neg and printed on good old fashioned, color photographic paper, or if it's some sort of digital reproduction.