Guitar and Fiddle

Two unknown / unnamed fellows jam on a guitar and a fiddle. The recess behind the fiddle player has quite a bit going on.  There’s a lantern advertising JAX beer, as well as the letters JAX spelled out in an arch. His hat is resting over his left shoulder. There are several plugs in an outlet over his right shoulder. The placard above all that says “No set in on ??? unless requested.”

The young man on the guitar is playing a chord that I can’t identify. Behind him, the guitar case leans against a jukebox(?). And note the microphone in front of him. The table is beat up, there are beer signs around, and in front of the fiddle player is a bottle of JAX beer. They must be in a bar! I’m taking a stab at this being a bar in Florida.

JAX Beer was made between 1913-1956 in Jacksonville, FL. There are some interesting tidbits about the brewery, including them being the last brewery in the US to stop producing beer during Prohibition, and they are credited as the first brewery to sell beer in a six pack. Not like what we picture, the bottles were packaged in burlap bags. The brewery went the way of the Edsel in the mid-fifties, leaving behind only its building and memories, and this little snapshot.

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A trip to Disneyland

From August 1962 or thereabouts we have two photos from Disneyland. The park at this time was only 7 years old and look how wide open the pathways are! For anyone who has been to Disneyland in the past 30 years, this is virtually unreal. This is back when you could wear a dress and heeled sandals to Disneyland and not be concerned about having your toes stomped on by the crowd or rolled over by a stroller. The attractions pictured are the Columbia Sailing Ship and the Matterhorn Bobsleds ride.

The people featured in these photos are Eleanor Conradson (my grandmother-in-law) and her boyfriend at the time, and his son. No one can remember her boyfriend’s name, unfortunately. My mother-in-law told me there was some story about his family, but she couldn’t remember the exact details. Either he or a daughter were murdered in some sort of robbery! The people who knew their names are long gone from my life, so I have no way of learning more.

At this point in the game, Disneyland was in the shape that most of us are familiar with, as you can see in the images below I found online. Click the images to open and enlarge.

1962 Map of Disneyland

Early 1962 aerial view of Disneyland

1965 aerial view of Disneyland

You will see the “Rivers of America” in the top left of the drawn map. It clearly was in place by August 1962 for the Columbia to be operating on it at the time of the snapshot above, but interestingly in the early ’62 photo, the Rivers are dry and unfinished.

It is very interesting as a local native who has watched a lot of the county be developed to have evidence of just how open Orange County, CA was when Disneyland opened. Compared with how it is now, this is like another country. All of the open spaces on the aerial photos have been completely developed with homes, businesses, apartments, freeways, and much more. The one big hotel shown – the Disneyland Hotel – is surpassed by massive hotels on every side of the park. It really is a tourist mecca.

 

Youth Orchestra

This photo came from a huge batch of family photographs we received when my mother-in-law closed up her home. We sat together looking at all these many photos (literally hundreds!) and tried to identify something or someone in each one. The process was important to the identification of the photos, but also such a wonderful time between us. Although she is gone from us now, I treasure the times we sat together. She would reminisce about these photos, her late husband, her family, and growing up in Detroit in the 30’s and 40’s.

This particular photo shows a youth orchestra or band, including an accordion, wood winds, and brass. I am guessing the boys with white straps to the right of frame were the drummers and the straps were designed to hold the drums while they marched or played. The band director must be the portly person on the far right. I enlarged this photo to look at the faces, but realized that the monument behind them has the names of some states on it. I can see a Kansas plaque on the left, between two caps, an Indiana plaque in the center of frame, above the musicians, and in the space next to that, I can just make out 1st and 1941. If anyone recognizes this monument, please comment. I would love to know where it is! Supposedly, my father-in-law is in this picture, but we couldn’t find him.

UPDATE: After sharing this on Facebook, my eagle-eyed cousin noticed the palm tree in the top right corner of the picture and pointed out that Detroit doesn’t have many of those. At about the same time, my sister and Intense Guy uncovered the identity of this monument. 

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It is the Monument of States in Kissimee, FL. This interesting monument was conceived by Dr Charles Bressler-Pettis after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He wanted something to signify the unity of the United States, so he wrote to all the governors of the states – which at that time numbered 48 – and asked them to send a rock native to their state. By the time he was finished collecting, Bressler-Pettis had also included a variety of rocks from other countries he and his wife had visited. The monument was raised in 1943 with the dual goals of unity and tourism. Ah, America. It has been expanded over the years to include Alaska and Hawaii, and a variety of other locales with their rocks being embedded into the walkways around the monument.

Thank you, Steve, Auntie Kat and Intense Guy for helping to solve yet another photo mystery!

Further Reading

Monument of States via US National Park Service

Monument of States via Wikipedia

Monument of States via Roadside America

 

Susan McSparrow / McSparrin

Susan McSparrin – Warren?

This is a gorgeous 1890s era cabinet card of Susan McSparrow McSparrin, found in Tennessee last year. In the middle of the back is the name Warren written in pencil. At first I thought it might have been her married name, but I really don’t know. It could be the name of someone the card was given to, or the name of a town where she lived. Susan looks to be in her 30s to 40s in this image, and while her dress does not display the typical 1890s traits of balloon sleeves and high neck, the edges of the cabinet card are in a deckle style that was not available before the 1890s. Susan may have been a simple, conservative woman who really liked and felt good in this dress. It is also possible this is a reprint of an older photograph made for some reason – marriage or death are two possibilities.

With good reason, this is a beautiful example of understated embellishment. The front closure of the bodice is hidden in the pleats, and there are two rows of soutache running alongside that. You can see some gapping of the pleats on the lower front, suggesting that the bodice has an inner layer where it was fastened using hooks & eyes. This is not uncommon to find on vintage dresses. Note the fine lace at the upper edge of her collar. While lace today is scratchy and would probably be uncomfortable to have so close to the neck, lace at this time was made with natural fibers or rayon, so would likely have been much more soft to the touch. She also has a bar pin at the neck closure that is possibly attached to the second piece that is at her breast bone. That piece looks like it may be a watch – you can see that the chain emerges from inside the dress. Her coif is spectacular and beautiful, but again, understated elegance.

This is such a beautiful image, I am delighted to share it with you today. The photographer, C. C. Shadle, was a well respected photographer in Kittaning, PA. Born October 17, 1845 in Clarion, PA to Issac and Mary Shadle, Christopher C Shadle first was an engineer before taking up his father’s business of photography. He was in Apollo – operating in an old schoolhouse, then Tarentum, and finally settled in Kittaning in 1869. He was in business in 1865, at which time tax records show he paid the Federal Luxury tax on photographs that was established to help defray the costs of the Civil War. He paid at that time $5.80. Each photo was taxed at 10%, and there is some equation that can tell us how many photos he collected the tax on, but I get confused on how much to multiply – it was either 58 or 580. This is important because it can suggest how prolific he was. This tax was paid in October 1865. If he was paying that much per month, then we can extrapolate how much he paid in tax, and then how many photos he took per year, etc etc. (click here for more info on the tax) He was noted to have a very well appointed and conveniently located gallery in town, and also employed apprentice photographers learning their trade. Shadle also owned a farm outside of town in addition to the studio in town. He thrived in the photography business until his unexpected death in 1904 at the age of 59, which was recorded not only in the newspaper but also the U. S. Presbyterian Records. He had been a trustee in the First Presbyterian Church. The gallery was sold to John Leister at that time. Shadle was married to Jane and they had 4 children.

UPDATE: A pair of site readers have helped to solve some of the mystery! Geno let us know that the name is McSparrin, and Katie P found that Susan McSparrin was married to Charles E. McSparrin. They and their son, Bruce Darlington, lived in Dayton, PA. When I get a little bit of time, I’m going to see what more I can learn about them. Thank you, Geno & Katie P!!

Other McSparrin Photographs

Bruce D McSparrin

Mrs. S. M. McSparrin

Further Reading About C. C. Shadle

Excerpt from Biographical And Historical Cyclopedia Of Indiana And Armstrong Counties, Pennsylvania, 1891 via pa-roots.org

Biography of William S Otto, employed by C. C. Shadle, via pa.roots.org

History of Apollo, via Google Books

Biography of John Ralph Leister, via pa-roots.org

Listing of obituaries from the National Underwriter, vol 8, September 1, 1904, via Google Books

Special Military Training?

Enjoy today two photos that show us that sometimes military training and camp isn’t all marching and push ups. I don’t know who the subjects are, but they were in the same pile as these pictures of Earl “E. B.” Scott and his buddy. Location and date are unknown but I’m guessing in the 1940s to 50s.

4 Women

Sarah, Agnes, Maud & Pearl

Today’s photo is a lovely cabinet card found in the Great Tennessee Vacation Haul, and shows four young women. The back of the card identifies them as Sarah, Agnes, Maud and Pearl.  Sarah and Pearl are on the ends, with Agnes & Maud in the middle. I have no knowledge of their relationship. Could they be sisters, cousins, or simply great friends?

The clothing suggest the 1880s trending to the 1890s. Sleeves are puffed but not ballooned. Because they are seated it’s not really possible to guess if these are A-line or bustled skirts.

The photographer was J. E. Kester in Brockwayville, PA, which is located midstate. It was settled in 1822 and named for the Brockway family which first settled in the area. By 1925, the name Brockwayville had been shortened to Brockway. Brockway has always been a small town, with only 1.2 square miles, and in the 1880 census there were 360 people living there. Current population from the 2010 census is 2072.

I found many other photographs online by J. E. Kester, all seeming to be from the 1890s, as well as a Commemorative Biography indicating that Blanche (Luther) Kester, wife of J. E., was living in Brockwayville in 1898.

Side eye

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I just love this little image! The square-ish card mount is approximately 2.5″x2.5″, and the photo is mounted to the back, with a thin paper covering the back of the photo. The woman at first glance just looks the “usual” stern of antique photos. However, when you look closely, she must have glanced over at the photographer because her eyes are not tracking off the the right, but looking back at the viewer, and it makes it look like she is giving the side eye. Too funny!

Beyond that, take note of the lovely small tucks across her bodice. This work was sometimes done by hand, but there were also fabrics made with tucks in them. If it was done by hand, it’s beautiful but tedious to accomplish. The tucks – if sewn by hand – would be small and precise, with tiny stitches that could barely be seen. Hand sewing is truly becoming a lost art, because it takes much practice and sometimes better materials than we have readily available to us today. The dropped puffed sleeves of this garment suggest late 1890s or early 1900s, but without more of the dress I can’t make a better guess.

Her crowning glory of a hat has bows, flowers and feathers I believe, and looks like an amazing millinery confection. I wonder how on trend this type of hat was, or if it was just that old thing?

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