Blurry

Today a series of photos that I titled “blurry” in my files. You can tell why, they aren’t the most clear images, mostly because they were probably taken on an inexpensive camera with poor lighting, indoors in some cases. The early photographers knew that good light was crucial to striking the best images, and often advertised their skylights and modern lighting. With the advent of the personal camera, any old Tom, Dick or Harry could take a camera with him on his adventures to document his way. Sometimes, T, D or H didn’t realize good lighting was necessary to capture the moment in the best way.

This little series was part of a trip to “somewhere European.” I believe they are WWII vintage, possibly from before, during or after the war, but around that time. There is a large building similar to a barracks, but more telling are the pin ups on the walls. It’s an interesting peek into the life of this person at a time long gone. Where he was or when is lost, but this slice of his environment as he chose to show it tells us a little about him.

None of the photos were identified. They were found in a massive box of loose photos in an antique shop in California.

Pin ups

More pin ups and a radio?

Barracks?

Soldier, pin ups, backlit

Soldier and friends

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Furry Girl and Her Dog

I have had this picture hanging around here forever but I have no idea why I’ve never shared it. It’s a wonderful image! Just look at the fur collar and bag (?) she has. Her coat looks warm and her hat looks like a 1920’s style newsboy. Her dog patiently sits by her, waiting to be released to chase cats or squirrels or whatever catches his fancy. The picture looks to have been taken on the porch of a house, location unknown.

More Streeter Updates

I have been chasing this family for several years now, although I still have not found any living descendants. I made numerous updates to the Streeter Family Overview today, based on new records and connections with others in the genealogy field. I am certainly not a pro by any stretch, but having access to other people on the internet sure opens up doors.

I discovered new marriages and lines for the Charles & Alice Streeter family. This is the family most likely to have owned the original photo album, based on their eventual residence in California.

I reconfirmed that many of these lines died out when no children were born or lived to adulthood.

I found a possible photo of Anna Haney, who was beautiful, and hopefully I’ll get permission to share that photo with you, because oh em gee Edwardian dresses, swoon! I also discovered she died only 4 days after her child was born.

Click over to the Streeter Family Overview for new information and clarification on several items.

Flat Head

 

Sometimes a number of factors combine to cause us to double take a pretty picture. This photo in particular looks rather mundane upon first glance. The subject is centered nicely, her hair is arranged, her expression is appropriately moderate. One may not look beyond these traits and be completely satisfied with the image.

Not me, though.

I noticed that the particular hair arrangement this lady chose, along with her chin being tilted slightly downward, makes her head look flat on top. Unfortunate. Probably in person she looked lovely and within the norms of her fashion choices. Combine with this that one of her eyes seems to be slightly droopy, or less opened than the other, and she looks less put together to the discerning eye bent upon picking apart the portrait. She looks, in fact, a bit sleepy.

All that withstanding, this is a nice image, and is the first I can recall with a green border. Typical borders in the 1860s were black, some red. According to various sites, the thin line puts this in the 1862 range, and the size of the image puts it in the 1860-1864 range. The dropped shoulders of the dress that can be seen matches this general dating.

The photographer was J. Beard at 8 Old Bond Street, Bath.

French Morocco 1953

 

Family treasures come to us in all different ways. In this instance, we had been hoping to find a picture of Ray Gibbons from his military years for at least the past 10 years. Recently when going through photographs left to us by my mother-in-law, I found an old photo album, the kind with the fragile black pages. She never mentioned it or pointed out the album in any way. Within were keepsakes of a long gone era.

In 1952, at the age of 20, Ray Gibbons joined the Air Force. He was away from his beloved Marie, and they exchanged photographs and letters. Marie confided to me once that many of the letters Ray wrote her are gone. They were too personal to share and so she destroyed them. I selfishly wanted to have a lens into their early life together, as an historian, but I also understand as a woman with children and family, that some feelings are better savored privately. Of the few letters remaining, they are sentimental and show the deep love they shared.

These are just a small selection of photographs from this old album that Ray kept while in the Air Force. He was in various locations around America and also deployed to French Morocco in Africa in 1953. Based on his photographs, he was curious, observant, and often smiling. Most of the people in his photographs are Air Force buddies, all young, all finding their way I assume. Very few are identified, regrettably. Some photographs will have to undergo restoration due to damage from the old paper. I’m hopeful that one of them may be a photo of Ray and his father Henry, as I have no other photos of Henry and we know very little about him. I presume that other branches of the family have photos of him, but time and distance has estranged the family members and photo sharing.

I hope you find these photographs interesting. I did a little research about French Morocco, which you can find at the end of this post.

Moroccan girl, 1953

Church, French Morocco, 1953

Building on base, 1953

Unidentified Moroccan men, 1953

Unidentified Moroccan men, 1953

Unidentified Moroccan men, 1953

Although Morocco has an ancient history of independent rule, Morocco existed as a French protectorate from 1912 to 1955, when it reestablished itself as an independent country. It was originally a sultanate that was desired by various European governments due to its valuable Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. After turmoil in the sultanate at the turn of the century and a threat by Germany, the French protectorate was established with the support of Britain and Spain, both countries with financial and other interests in Africa. Other countries were not necessarily pleased with the French influence, and there were also several rebellions against French rule over the ensuing 40 years.

Morocco is considered to be an exotic location due to its geographical location as well as historical influences of Mediterranean culture. The well known cities of Marakesh, Tangier, and Casablanca are all Moroccan cities with long histories and their own cachet. Marakesh has been mentioned numerous times in relation to the Indiana Jones movies, and of course Casablanca was the location of the classic namesake 1942 film. More recently, scenes of Game of Thrones were filmed in Morocco. The cuisine is considered to be among the most varied due to the availability of spices, meats, fish, fruits and vegetables, and the flavorful combinations that have come about due to the many international communities within the country. Varying populations have created an exciting local culture that combines West African, Berber, Arab and European traditions. Traditional clothing may be ornately embroidered and colorful, conjuring images of Bedouin tribes and Arabian nights. It is currently an Islamic nation with the attendant rules of Islamic law, which I won’t cover here.

Further Reading About Morocco

French Protectorate via University of Central Arkansas

French Colony to Sovereign State via Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Morocco via Encyclopedia Britannica

The flip

There was a time when a curled cow lick was desirable in a man’s hair. Today is not that time, but the time of this photo was. The fellow had his hair oiled as also was the fashion, and combed nicely to one side to play up the cow lick. The shape of his mouth is interesting, with the upper lip more pronounced, making it look like he had just been startled. Let us hope that was not the case. :-)

The photographer used was Thomas Birtles of Northwich & Knutsford. I found a reference suggesting he was in business 1865-1876. However, further research uncovered that Thomas Birtles did not officially take ownership of this studio until 1878. He had been an assistant to John Longshaw, a well known photographer in Warrington. Born in 1838, Birtles first attended art college, became a drawing master and tutor, before health concerns took him back home to Warrington. He went to work for Longshaw, married Emma Longshaw in 1860, and upon the death of his employer, took over the studio with his brother in law, Edward Longshaw. Evidently, Edward left the business rather quickly, and Birtles continued on independently, opening studios in Northwich and Knutsford.

Birtles was a prolific photographer, known not only for people, but also indoor and outdoor scenes, upper and lower class people as well as industrial and construction photos. He even photographed his own dinner table set for a wedding feast. He and his wife had eleven children, many of whom went into the photography business with their father supporting several studios. Thomas Birtles was long in business, well into the 20th century, and transitioned his work from ambrotype to collodion and on to more modern methods after that. His sons continued the business well into the 20th century.

For further reading about Thomas Birtles, the Warrington Museum has published the book Warrington’s Photographers. There are many of Thomas Birtle’s images there as well as many from John Longstreet and others.

 

Handsome face

The unidentified subject of the CDV above has what could be considered a classically handsome face: strong jaw and mouth, slight mustache, straight nose, evenly spaced eyes, set into a well shaped face, not too wide & short, not to long and thin. His clothing appears to be nicely made, and while I don’t understand why his necktie looks like it is touching his bare neck in between the collar points, I do admire it’s pattern nonetheless.  His hair style is what caught my attention, though. What was once very popular and considered to be stylish is now an interesting “flip” of the hair on top, with some bushy fronds on the sides. It was probably oiled to death, too. He looks like he needs a wash, shave and a haircut, to me. But c’est la vie, he was probably considered to be just “the thing” to the ladies in his town!

The photographer of this paragon of the past was Stanley, of Lewiston, ME.

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