9/30/09

THE WATERFALL across Yosemite Valley


This photo is also from Mr. Robert's album. No reference as to who the people are, but I can tell you the shot is about the size of a postage stamp at approximately 1.3750" x 1.25". Little picture. There are more pictures of Yosemite, including a woman up close feeding a bear. Same woman that was standing next to him on the rock in the lake. Hmmmmm...I'm beginning to see something here. Perhaps this is why he ended up marrying someone else. The woman, the bear, the food....

Yosemite waterfall_1930s_tatteredandlost

Imagine what Yosemite was like before all the traffic and the smog. Actually I can, a bit, because the first time I went there was in the mid-50s. I have old movie footage of me running around in a striped t-shirt, elastic waste jeans w/flannel inside turned up at the cuffs, and cowboy boots. Yup, I was a bad hombre. This couple was there about 20 years before me. Wonder if she was wearing elastic waste jeans w/flannel and cowboy boots? We'll just never know.

9/29/09

YOSEMITE VALLEY in the early 1930s


This photo, a Kodatone, was taken in Yosemite Valley in the 1930s. The man is Lieutenant Harold Bateman Roberts who served in the U.S. Coast Guard. I don't know who the woman is, but it's before he was married. This photo is in an album which belonged to Mr. Roberts who served for several years aboard a ship in Alaska and then was chosen to accompany Admiral Byrd on an expedition. I also have an album of photos, cards, and newspaper clippings of him with his wife titled "Harold & Lolly". It is strange having something so personal of a stranger, but I'm glad I purchased them. I only wish I'd had the money to purchase the amazing photo album of his trips to Alaska in the early 30s. Alas that was way out of my price range at the estate sale and I try not to think about what I missed. I'll be satisfied with this tiny gem. 

Harold Bateman Roberts_Yosemite Valley_1930s_tatteredandlost

I have posted several vernacular photos this past year once owned by Mr. Roberts. He can be seen in DESIGNATED DRIVERS enjoying the Eve. He's on the left. Other photos from his album are:

9/27/09

It was a very GOODYEAR


I give you two Goodyear blimps. the Puritan and the Reliance, each named after winners in the America's Cup yacht race. Apparently this naming the blimps after race winners began in 1926, though the company no longer follows this practice.

I have no idea where or when these shots were taken. And unfortunately the Goodyear website is rather pathetic when it comes to the history of these flying ships. They're more than happy to post information about the current ships and a handful of historical shots, but give no real detailed information. Pretty sad really. You'd think they'd be a good source. You'll find far more information at Wikipedia.

Goodyear blimp 1_tatteredandlost
Goodyear blimp 2_tatteredandlost
Click on images to see them larger.

I have two vivid memories of the Goodyear blimp, each going back decades. I've seen Goodyear blimps several times, but what I remember most are the two times I saw them putting on their light shows. The first time was in 1970 on Mercer Island in Washington State. I was visiting a friend and we were standing in their family room overlooking the lake when suddenly the blimp showed up from behind trees lit up like a Christmas tree. Having never seen anything like this before I thought it spectacular. For about an hour it circled Mercer Island flashing messages and pictures all over the side in bright colors. It was like circling fireworks.

The second time I saw one of these light shows was when I was living in Los Angeles. I lived in an apartment complex next door to both Warner Brothers and Universal Studios with an expansive view of the Valley. Anyone from that area knows exactly what complex I'm talking about. I looked out my window close to sunset and saw the blimp go by having just crossed over the backlot of Universal. Suddenly the light show began. As I recall the messages were for a wedding. So someone had gotten married and had hired the blimp to fly over the Toluca Lake area providing quite a fun light show. Must have cost them a pretty penny, but I got to see it for free. I took a comfy chair out onto my balcony and settled in for the show, which must have again lasted for about an hour. As the sun went down the show became even more beautiful. According to Wikipedia these were known as the Super Skytakular.

I haven't seen a blimp in years. They used to show up my way pretty regularly, but not anymore. Hot air balloons quite often float by the house and I can hear the whooshing sound as they apply the gas. They're always wonderful to see, but I'd really like to have a blimp go over at night and put on one of their Skytakulars. That would be pretty spectacular.

9/20/09

NOT MY SCHOOL MEMORIES, but they could be


There isn't a specific time period of vernacular photography that I love more than others. I'm less interested in photos from the 1970s on and I've grown tired of the posed cabinet shots of the 19th century. But if I find something in either of those eras that speaks to me I'll still feverishly grab it.

What I'm most fond of are photos that I can relate to with some emotion. They might make me laugh with them, snicker at them, or even identify with them. This little girl Dot is one I relate to, even though she's at least 10 years older than me. The handwriting says it was taken in 1952, but that hairstyle, headband, Peter Pan collar on the blouse could just as easily be from a school picture from when I was 12. She'd now be close to 70. I know nothing about her, but I can see myself in this photo and I'm sure there are a lot of others who will feel the same.

Love Dot_School Memories_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

The photograph doesn't look old to me. She looks the age I often still imagine myself to be, 12. There's something comforting about 12, or at least what 12 used to be. Just on the cusp of all hell breaking loose, still unaware of how much the world would throw at us. Still feeling safe. I doubt 12 year olds today get a chance to feel safe. They're bombarded with too much before they ever reach 12. 12 is the new 30. Or maybe as in this case, 12 is the new 70. I don't even know what that means, so don't spend any time at all analyzing it.

And my postings will still be sporadic because of my lack of net access. By now it's just worn me down. And I do really hate Blogger's redesign of many of the blogging tools for their birthday. I HATE the preview which is now useless. I hate the "edit HTML" because I don't see anything with HTML. All I see is Courier. I hate Courier. I used to have to use Courier when I was designing computer language books. And I especially hate that blogger will no longer allow me to add a line of space before my first line of text. I specifically always put a line space between the main head and first line of text. It's the designer in me. Now when I hit the return key blogger decides that's a mistake and they delete it. Oh geez, now I'm whining like a 12 year old. Best just go do my homework.

9/14/09

FAMILY DYNAMICS, it's all in the details


Family dynamics. Sooner or later we all think about them. The interaction of each person on the other. How we help shape each others world. In this vernacular photograph I think there are some serious family dynamics taking place...then again, maybe not.

This was found inside a bag of photos I purchased at a flea market. The bag was bought for 50 cents and I basically had no real idea what was inside. I'd taken a quick look, but it was a hot sunny day and I simply couldn't get my eyes to focus enough to see the details. And for 50 cents I was going to argue? Well, yeah, maybe I would, but I'll keep that between me and the sellers.

You know me, I love the details. The details are the spice in everything. They're what bring out the flavors. And in this shot there are some seriously interesting details that only popped out when I blew it up. I kid you not, I only saw three people in the photo. A nice little family pastiche. Daddy oh so proud of his baby. Baby so happy with his wagon, but confused as to why he had to suddenly stop running down the sidewalk. And then mom, reading the paper. Not the least interested in being in the photo. "Okay," I thought, she was busy, it wasn't as if she was making the statement "Leave me alone!" She's just reading the paper and someone with a camera is interacting with her husband and child. They're having fun. She's looking at the society column.

And then I saw HIM. HIM standing at the end of the sidewalk, arms crossed, perfectly framed. HIM who is barely even noticeable in the actual photo. He was what was lurking in the details. He is part of the family dynamic. Oh, the stories I was soon telling. I had these people in all sorts of messes. A family member smiled at me and said I had a seriously twisted mind. I didn't think so. I just saw possibilities. Lots and lots of possibilities. I think you will too.

This photo was one featured in my Blurb book Tattered and Lost: Volume I. And yes, there will be a volume 2. I'm working on it.


family dynamics_tatteredandlost
Click image to see it larger.

And I want to give a big THANK YOU to Linda at The Paper Collector for saying some very kind words about both of my blogs today. It's really nice to know that someone is enjoying this rambling gait of mine through the vernacular world.

9/9/09

The last of the BATHING BEAUTIES


Labor Day has come and gone which is the unofficial end of summer. For that reason Labor Day has always annoyed me. I don't like a manmade holiday determining the end of a season. I know we still have a few weeks of actual summer left and probably a lot of warm weather still to come. But Labor Day is a defining moment each summer. It means to start packing away the thoughts of fun in the sun and get ready to sit by a fire as it storms outside. 

So in anticipation of packing away my swimsuit into the back of the cupboard, I thought I needed to post the final bathing beauty for the year. I'll save all my other lovelies and gents for next summer, providing this blog still exists. 

Raise one final snow cone to our lovely boardwalk beauty real photo postcard. Happy with who she is and full of good humor. Soon she'll be putting away her woolen swimsuit for woolen stockings, woolen dress, woolen coat...oh just everything very warm and scratchy and woolen.

bathing beauty_tatteredandlost

9/7/09

Let's hear it for AMERICAN WORKERS


Happy Labor Day to all of us who work hard to keep this country going. And #!*% &$*! to the corporate greed monsters who forget their place in the world and the politicians they've paid off.

This photo dates from January 1957, most likely the San Francisco/Bay Area.

grocery store_1957_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

9/6/09

The FULLER TUG GIRLS AGAIN!


Anyone who has been reading any of my nonsense this year has come across my posts about the Fuller Tug Girls (Grin and Beer It and The Fuller Tugs Girls or Grin and Beer It Redux). They seem to keep popping up in the darnedest places. Once again, they showed up at an antique store, but this time they may be providing some evidence, slim though it is. 

Same girls, same carefree attitude, and as usual beer drinking is involved. But this time one of them is wearing a sweatshirt that says "Fuller Yanks" and it's not homemade. Maybe somewhere out there in the dark recesses of the net universe someone will be able to explain what the Fuller Yanks were. It's beginning to look like somebody in this group had something to do with the Fuller Brush Company because this sweatshirt looks like it has the old Fuller logo on it. I might be wrong, but this all might clear up a wee bit where Fuller Tugs came from. 

So what do you think? Did the Fuller Brush employees let their hair down on the weekends after going door-to-door each weekday pushing brushes and mops to housewives who happily invited them in hoping for the chance of getting a free complimentary vegetable brush? 

It's funny these girls would show up again on a holiday weekend at an antique store. I'm almost afraid to see what they might have planned for Christmas, but I am growing very very fond of them.

Fuller Yank Girls_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

I have often said that something is a vernacular photography category and I must search for more, but usually I'm joking because it's absurd. I'm not going to say it with these girls because it might actually happen!

9/3/09

Why even collect VERNACULAR PHOTOGRAPHY?


I'd be interested in knowing why people collect vernacular photography or why they're really interested in it even as just a viewer. I know I go back to just always loving photographs.

I guess I can trace my love for photos back to childhood since we always had Life and Look in the house. They were the magazine staples along with National Geographic, which my mother subscribed to since the late 1930s. As I recall, back then, you had to be invited to get a subscription to the National Geographic, and somewhere in D.C. my mother's name is supposed to be on some list at the National Geographic headquarters. I have kept her subscription going long after her passing, so the subscription has been continuous for at least 70 years.

My father always was interested in cameras and taking photos. As a Naval aviator he'd trained to take reconnaissance shots and has some incredible stories to tell of the stunts he pulled while in training flying low over peoples homes. I wish I had some of the shots he took on some of his low flying escapades around Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the 1940s. In the 1950s he worked for several years at the Naval Photographic Center making training films all over the country.

At an early age I'd already made up my mind I was going to be an artist. At one point I wanted to go to the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, but ended up at a Bay Area art college. I had my own darkroom where I'd spend easily 12 to 14 hours developing film and making prints. Can't say I miss the smell of the chemicals. I also don't know what happened to all of the prints I made. The majority of them and the negatives are long gone. I'd especially like to find the one of Mick with a fern up his nose, but that's a whole weird story not worth telling.

I think the first books I bought that contained what would be considered vernacular photography were part of the Time/Life series This Fabulous Century. I still love looking through them, each full of photos by unknown photographers and lots of ephemera. I never imagined I'd someday be searching through flea markets and estate sales for these same sort of items. I always imagined photographs and ephemera would be out of my reach. Instead they're really the art for the common people. You don't have to be wealthy to collect ephemera or vernacular photography. You buy what you find that speaks to you and is affordable to your pocket. My pocket is pretty barren so I go with quarters in hand hoping for finds.

The snapshot of the little boy below is one such find. It probably cost me less than a quarter. It falls into the vernacular photography category of looming shadows. Some people collect nothing but these sort of shots. They almost always look foreboding and mysterious. Of course it's generally the photographer whose shadow is butting in from the bottom trim so the subject is in no danger. But often times the subject is squinting or making some sort of uncomfortable looking expression. The reason for the expression is simple, they're being forced to look into the sun. Adults can usually pull off a smile, but children often just look confused and somewhat frightened adding to the drama that actually isn't there. We as viewers of the snapshot bring the drama. I think that's part of my love of vernacular photography. The love of storytelling.

boy in a tree_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

I have to wonder if people who aren't interested in stories fall in love with vernacular photography. I generally find the people who have no interest in my collection are people whose imaginations stop short of going beyond the physical print in their hand. They look at it and say, "Yeah, it's an old snapshot of somebody you don't know. So?" That's when I know it's probably not worth going any further. If they don't look at a photo and come up with a story in their head that tries to explain what they're seeing then I know they're only seeing a piece of old paper.

So if anyone else wants to post a comment as to why they started collecting or even why they just love looking at old photographs please consider sharing.

And yes, as you can see I'm back online. I'm still stuck in bandwidth hell, but have plenty of upload usage available. It's the download usage that is a problem for now. So my daily cruising the net to read my favorite blogs is still curtailed for at least another week or two in order to save enough bandwidth for work from clients. I'm still going through withdrawal. It's a different withdrawal than I get when I go on vacation because I'm still sitting at this confounded machine all day, it's just now I'm restricted in visiting the rest of the world. I like visiting the rest of the world from my chair. It's all storytelling.

9/1/09

NYET NYET NET


No net access for the next few weeks. Sometimes living in the countryside has its drawbacks. Net access is one of them. Now what do I put as a label for this? Ummmmm...