"Your honor, we submit into evidence Exhibit A. The jury will plainly see that this is a photo of the town doctor, Doc Jenkins, taken on the morning of April 6th 1953 doing what he did every single morning...tapping the handle of the town water pump. Doc Jenkins was a beloved member of this town and we all accepted that each day he tapped the pump then ran across the street and licked the barber pole. Not one of you here didn't think kindly of Doc Jenkins...except Mitch the Barber. Mitch the Barber who has held a grudge against Doc Jenkins since 1937 when the doc treated Mitch for an unfortunate boil."

Who really knows what this vernacular photograph is about. I haven't a clue.

Mount Pilot water pump_tatteredandlost
Click on the evidence to see it larger.


Which came first...THE CHICKEN OR THE PIG?

So you're a happy farm family and you've just harvested some melons. You decide to have a photo taken while you have your impromptu feast. So which shows up first? The chickens or the pig? Or did they purposely go to where the pig was knowing it would eat the rind left behind? Were the chickens eating the seeds that were being unceremoniously spit in all directions? 

eating with the pig
Click on image to see it larger.

I can say that this was a family that liked melons. Really enjoyed their melons, because I have other photos of them with melons...but no pig. This is the only one with the pig. It's a nice pig. I don't want to think about what happened to the nice pig. For awhile the pig enjoyed melon...and then not so much. Same with the chickens. 

So I add this to my collection. 

Category: pig eating melon vernacular photograph or 

child shoving fork in mouth vernacular photograph or 

farm hand forced to eat at back end of pig vernacular photograph. 

You be the judge. It's a category now. I  must find more.


Pick a category and then COLLECT THE HECK OUT OF IT

Some vernacular photography enthusiasts collect within rigid categories. Perhaps they only collect photographs with a looming shadow in the foreground. Or maybe only photos of children with dolls. I collect them all and I do keep them in mental categories. I've said before I'm a sucker for shots of people cutting cakes. I also like children with toys. And I do collect the looming shadow shots. 

Another category is people on horseback. I have a few. I realized I had to set up certain parameters so now the horses have to be alive...or plastic. I won't buy shots of people on dead stuffed horses. I have my reasons. They're private. And yes, I've walked away from some nice shots of a woman on a rearing horse when I realized the horse was not changing from shot to shot and it didn't have a shine to its surface.

Now...I think I've come across a whole subcategory. And I have the first for my collection. Henceforth this will be known as:

I. People on horses
   A. subcategory: women on horses
        1. sub-subcategory: women on horses in front of screen doors
            a. sub-sub-subcategory: women on horses in front of screen doors with kids looking out

I'm going to keep my eyes open and hopefully will add to this collection soon.

LV ranch horse_tatteredandlosts
Click on image to see it larger.

Next post: people with pigs and melons



I posted some photos today at my ephemera site that might be of interest to people who like vernacular photography simply because we should all be grateful that this really didn't catch on. I can only imagine what it would have been like to carry around a camera that would produce photographs such as this. Eastman Kodak, along with Look magazine and Harris-Intertype Corporation, were originally involved in pioneering this product.

parallax panoramagram_Edison_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

If anyone knows anything about the demise or next stage of this process let me know. Basically all I found out I posted at my other site. You can read more about it here at Tattered and Lost Ephemera.



This is for Robert at Live from the Surface of the Moon. I generally don't share personal family photos or anything that I've shot, but this is different. This is part of the human experience 40 years ago. This was a global experience and I haven't seen anything since then that has stopped the rotation of the earth in the same way. 

I was one of those people sitting glued to my tv for days awaiting the arrival of the astronauts on the moon and none of it was a hyped let down. It was all magnificent. I snapped pictures with my 35 mm Mamiya Sekor. I had my little reel to reel tape recorder going. All I have left are vague memories buried deep inside that can really only be conjured by closing my eyes or going outside on an especially beautiful full moon night. The reel to reel recording? In a box. I long ago lost the ability to play it. I'm sure there are thousands of photos like this all over the world in long forgotten boxes.

For those who weren't alive to experience this, I'm sorry. You missed a humdinger!

July 20_1969_step to the moon_tatteredandlost
July 20_1969_live from the surface_tatteredandlost.psd
July 20_1969_live from the moon_tatteredandlost
Click on images to see them larger.

Years later friends dragged me nearly kicking and screaming to the MGM Grand for a show. First off I don't like casinos, secondly I hate casino shows. This was billed as an extravaganza with the high point...a real plane on the stage with half naked woman standing on the wings waving and truly lousy dancers cavorting across the stage as the curtain was pulled back. I gritted my teeth while the people in the audience sat mesmerized and applauding. It was all nonsense and I wondered how they could be excited by this when less than 10 years before we'd seen two men walk on the moon. People forget and they move onto the next shiny object. Not me.


Take my picture with my ROLMONICA

When I bought this vernacular photograph I kept staring at the little girl wondering what the heck she was holding. I couldn't make it out. Maybe a camera, but it didn't look like any sort of camera from that time period. I figured I'd scan the image and get a better view. So that's what I did and I still didn't have a clue as to what she was holding. 

Well, it's a Rolmonica. Once I saw the crank on the side I googled "crank harmonica" and lo and behold up comes some information about this antique instrument. I never knew anything like this existed. I found the following information:
Rolmonica player harmonica, circa 1929

These interesting instruments were made in Baltimore in the late 1920's.  They employ a modified harmonica in which the instrument plays the same note on the draw as it does on the blow (so that the instrument can be played continuously without pausing to take a breath), and paper rolls with holes are passed over the harmonica holes to determine which notes will be played.  These instruments were one of the first commercial applications of bakelite, an early plastic-like material that proved very important as an electrical insulator. (SOURCE: http://www.billsbanjos.com/rolmonica.htm)
I love the photo. The mother is clearly doting on her son who has some crumpled tissues in his hand. A tender moment? Not as far as the sister is concerned. She's not putting down her Rolmonica for any tender mushy stuff. I can just imagine her wandering around in that garden, busily playing Turkey in the Straw, in her own world, when she's called over to take the photo. She stops cranking long enough for the shot to be taken and then skips around the fountain back into her own little world.

girl playing Rolmonica with brother and mother_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

There were quite a variety of songs available on music rolls. You can see a list here. I would especially like to hear Sidewalks of New York. Always loved that tune. I even see the Hoagy Carmichael song Lazy Bones listed. Quite a variety, including Christmas and patriotic songs. So she could have driven people nuts all year long, through every holiday.

Here are a couple of fun videos of gentleman showing how the Rolmonica works. I certainly learned something new today.


Dorothy and THE TIN MAN?

This is Dorothy and Fred. That's what it says on the back. They're Dorothy and Fred. At first I thought maybe she was Rebecca of Stoneybrook Farm in that big hat. Then I thought, no she really is a Dorothy and Fred is the Tin Man. A cross-dressing Tin Man. It's possible. Times have changed. I'm open to that. 

Fred was a good fellow with a good sense of humor...I hope. I  hope this wasn't a photo relatives trotted out to embarrass him in front of friends and family...or worse yet the young ladies he courted. Poor Fred, dying of embarrassment when his mother rushed to get the photo album to show his sweetheart his childhood photos hoping she'd get to know the family better. 

I hope things worked out for Fred.

Dorothy and Fred_tatteredandlost


KIBITZING over a cone

It's 104 degrees outside and the idea of walking into a nice cool ice cream parlor seems very appealing. Can't you just hear the whirring of the ceiling fan? Wonder what these two were talking about? A little town gossip? Is the one behind the counter saying "No, really you don't want the strawberry, believe me. Stick with the chocolate. It came in fresh this morning. The strawberry (looking from side to side) last Friday."

Arden Ice Cream_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

I don't know what year is on the calendar. Not sure I can even pull that in in a really good scan. I'm guessing early to mid-50s. 

Oh, the thought of those seamed stockings on a hot day. No way. NO WAY! 

And my big question is when are scientists going to finally tell us we need a cone a day. Okay, I'm really grateful that I lived long enough to have chocolate declared healthy, but come on. Let's hear it for ice cream. A cone a day. That's all I'm asking.


POLAROID memories

The title of this post is almost deceptive because I really don't have many memories of Polaroid cameras. There are two of them in this house, one belonged to my grandparents, the other to my mother. My grandmother used to send us photos of her dog. And I have two photos that were taken at the Sear's store when they bought the camera. It's obvious that the clerk was giving them a spiel and then took the shots. Neither of them are smiling. In fact, they look less than pleased, but hey...my grandfather bought the camera. 

I never had much luck with Polaroids. The photos just didn't have the clarity I wanted. I do now wish I'd played with them more. Now that Polaroid no longer makes film it's a bit late to be crying about it. Perhaps if I'd read all of the tech stuff on this pamphlet my photos would have looked like something more than people inside Vaseline jars.

I don't know what year this pamphlet is from, but it's most likely the 60s. It's possible it was in the camera bag when we brought the camera west after my grandparents died. Then again, maybe it was in a box of film my folks bought to try out the camera. I have no idea. But to those with fond memories of Polaroid this is for you.

Polaroid pamphlet_cover_tatteredandlost

Polaroid pamphlet_pg 2-3_tatteredandlost

Polaroid pamphlet_pg4-5_tatteredandlost

Polaroid pamphlet_pg 6-7_tatteredandlost
Click on images to see them larger.

Oh, and the little old lady in the left column who has been there purposely for months...Polaroid.



I'll admit my view of the world has been tainted by movies. Those are the images of romance I keep stored away in the filing cabinet I call my brain. There are certain movies the logical side of me says are silly, but I fall for them each time. Wishful thinking even if reality would never match what I see on the screen. It's all just storytelling, it doesn't have to be real.

Apparently one of the people in this photo felt the same. Night out on the town in Rome sometime in the late 50s to mid-60s. Most likely a tour group that had an arranged night to see the Trevi Fountain after dark. Me thinks the caption is a bit off. I don't believe Ernie is the one on the far right. Okay, maybe I'm wrong. This is the fountain that starred in Three Coins in the Fountain AND La Dolce Vita so maybe the fellow is named Dottie. Who am I to question what I see written before me.

Trevi Fountain_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

So I sit here working on a book in French I can't read dreaming about being in Italy. Not sure if I'd rather be in the movie Three Coins in the Fountain or La Dolce Vita so I'll post a clip from each. Whichever mood I fancy from moment to moment. Makes sense to me. It's one of those days when only my mind can leave my reality.


Her name should have been DIXIE

So what's the story with these two? Do these people look happy? Are they carefree travelers? I'll leave that up to you, but I can tell you each time I look at it I make up a new story.

The car was licensed in "Heart of Dixie"Alabama. I'm thinking they're probably drinking out of Dixie Cups. Do you think if she'd been named Dixie she would have gotten a bit more respect from him other than being thought of as an arm rest on a lumpy sofa? I'm sorry, but it's just so disheartening to see her lean into it as if she's used to this pose. 

Deep in Dixie_tatteredandlost

The photo is small and when I first looked at it I didn't even notice she was a piece of furniture. They just looked like very ordinary people who'd stopped by the side of the road on a Sunday drive. Perhaps they stopped at one of the springs you used to find alongside two lane roads. My maternal grandfather was great at knowing where all of those were. He was a country boy and was convinced spring water, even alongside a highway, was the best. A pipe coming out of the side of a hill with water coming out of it was always worth a stop. So we always carried at least one cup in the car. I remember we had a collapsable metal one. It's around the house somewhere. We also had little plastic cups that stacked inside each other getting smaller and smaller like a nested matroushka doll. I now have one of those in my car...just in case I see a pipe coming out of a hillside...with runoff.

Anyway, here we have this, dare I say it, odd couple. And the thing I always conveniently forget is that they weren't alone. There was at least one other person in that car...the photographer. So there were at least 3 of them out for a drive. When they all got back in the car were they cheerful, rested from their stop, looking forward to the rest of the day? Leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Maybe in this case that's a good thing.



Raise your hand if your first camera was a Kodak Instamatic. No, not necessarily the first camera you ever used, but the first camera that WAS yours. For me it was my trusty little Instamatic, as shown here in this ad from 1964. 

Kodak Instamatic Camera ad 1964_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

I can still remember it in its black and yellow Kodak box. My folks bought it for me at the Navy Exchange. Up until then I'd used various Brownies that had belonged to my mom. But this one was all mine. Of course my folks bought the film and paid for the processing so I was very cautious with what I took shots of. But this little camera went on many vacations, photographed many friends, and even made it to a few rock concerts, where I managed to take really nice flash shots of the back of the head of the person in front of me.

I had one of the originals that required little flash bulbs, but my friend had one with a flash cube. I still have the mental image of her licking the bottom of that cube before putting it in place on the top of the camera. Not sure where she learned that trick. Not sure I remember licking the little flash bulbs mine used. Maybe it was just something she enjoyed doing. I do know we tried to push those little cameras far beyond what they were capable of doing. And she took some damned interesting shots by putting a faceted stone in front of the lens. The Mad Hatter at a Be-In was the one I remember the most.

Unfortunately my little camera doesn't look so great now. It's in a drawer, still in the leather case I had for it, but parts look rusted. And to my dismay I find that there is a roll of film still in it. That film has to date back to at least the 70s. I would love to see what's on it. Perhaps photos of my mom and dad that I would give anything to see. Most likely the film is simply too far gone to even show anything and I doubt I could find anyone to process it. I also have an unopened box of film for the little gem. All stuff to just put up on a shelf now for fond memories. That's what vernacular photographs are all about. Our memories and those of others. My camera is tattered but not lost.



Celebrate our nations birthday by getting dressed up, going down to the basement, hang up Old Glory, and then have a rousing game of...



As usual, click on either image to see them larger.


Without KODAK...

Kodak has been there in the background for most of our lives. Sure you might have used a different brand camera, but if you were buying film you most likely bought Kodak. And if it wasn't for Kodak we wouldn't be collecting vernacular photographs. They made commonplace events a little more exciting. 

Here's a Kodak advertisement from the July 1918 The Delineator magazine. The copy reads:
The Kodak Album

All the little kings and queens of childhood's realm command your Kodak—command it to keep their picture story. Pictures of them and by them, pictures of their friends and their pranks—pictures that breathe the very joy and frankness of childhood. Such is the intimate picture story that makes the Kodak Album the most cherished book in all the house.

And picture taking is very simple now. Kodak has made it so.

Ask your dealer.

EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY, Rochester, N.Y., The Kodak City
And now I scour the flea markets and estate sales for these albums, hoping to find moments from another person's life captured by Kodak. And it's always fun when I find a piece of Kodak ephemera. It just makes more sense to put it on this site than my ephemera site. It sort of helps to tie the madness of collecting together.

Kodak ad_The Delineator_July 1918_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.


A NODDER named Lizzie

I don't actually know this woman's name. I'm calling her Lizzie. She could be a Lizzie or an Edna or a Betty or.... But what she is, if I may be unkind for a moment, is odd looking in this photo. She looks like some seriously bad Photoshopping. Either that or she's a nodder doll. The head, when touched, just bobs up and down in a continuous headache inducing movement. Put a hat on her with a large feather coming out the top and I'm sure she made gentleman caller's eyes cross. I swear I did nothing to this photo. It's a small photo and no, the head is not glued on. That's all her. Cameras don't lie, do they? No special effects. Just very disconcerting. 

stuck on you_tatteredandlost