Sadness overcame the Little Snow Man as he saw the ground turn brown beneath him.
This is a happy little snow man. I have no idea where this snapshot was taken.
On the back is written:
Jan. 2, 1948Snow man Kenny, Jackie & I built around new year.
I've been waiting for the perfect time to post the three shots in this series. I thought that since I might finally be getting back on my feet and did a post at my ephemera site about Frosty the Snow Man I'd post these here.
Over the next few days, fever and cough permitting, I will post the remaining two. I don't want to post them all at once. This little snow man had his own little life, short as it was, and I'm going to respect that.
Here I am in all my snowsuit glory meeting Santa in 1952. I imagine it was in Harrisburg, PA. I'm entranced and this probably led to my very long belief in the old fellow. Wait, I still believe when I go outside on a crisp Christmas Eve and look up into the dark sky and see something moving. Okay, it's just a plane or satellite, I know that. I prefer to imagine it's Santa in his sleigh. That makes me smile. Planes and satellites not so much.
Patience is a virtue, but try telling that to kids as they wait for Christmas day. Not going to work.
This is sort of a strange place when you get into the details. The tv seems to be up on something like cinder blocks. And I'm enjoying the star studded sky backdrop between the tv and the window. Fun and interesting. I'm hoping somewhere beneath that tree are clothes for the dolls. Hate seeing "nekid" dolls being dragged around.
Click on image to see it larger. I swear that should be back up and working again.
Well it was their Christmas and let's hope it was a happy one.
Well isn't this odd? It's always fun to see how many department store/mall Santa's stray from our neat little image of Santa. The kid in Santa's lap probably never noticed. He was just hoping he'd get what was on his list. Of course, beyond Santa's very dark eyebrows, it's just an odd picture that neither Santa nor the kid seem to be in the moment with each other. They're both distracted. The guy is counting the minutes until his break or is completely stoned and the kid is looking at his parents hoping for their approval. I hope they all laughed about this shot years later. I know when I found it at the flea market I laughed and thought "Oh, I have to have this one."
Okay, seriously, when I look at this Santa I think Rasputin. Don't ask. That's just how my mind works. I always go for the odd. Also probably the only time "Santa" and "Rasuputin" will end up next to each other in the label section.
Here's another oldie from last year that bears repeating. I will say nothing. It's all here within the shot. Some wonderfully odd family dynamics captured. Look into the details. It's just plain odd. I love this shot! Oops, I gave it away. A moment caught by the camera that told, most likely, nothing but lies.
Click on image to see it larger. The only way you'll really see the details.
This is a recycled image in that it was included in my very first post last year. Thus I'm thinking really nobody ever saw this. Just recycle it. It's worthy of recycling because it's in such stunningly bad taste. And you thought those Christmas photo cards you got from friends and family were scream inducing. Imagine getting this. Really, what do you say?
It makes me think of the time a friend asked that everyone give money to her parents anniversary party because she and her brother were trying to raise enough to send her folks on a cruise. So here's how it worked. There was a big surprise party for her folks and then at the end of the party my friend and her brother counted up the cash and then it was "Gee mom and dad, sorry...your friends just didn't care enough to send you on a cruise, but hey...you can get a couple good meals at Red Lobster. But really, we'd planned on a cruise. Sorry."
Yeah, money. Does odd things to people. May your Christmas be green.
Sisters. My sister is my best friend. No genetic relationship. We chose to be sisters. These three are all related and apparently in August of 1908 in Pacific Grove, California (which is near Carmel and Monterey) decided to document this. The Blasdel sisters, all living in different places came together that August. And then they decided to send a copy of this photo to their friend Beatrice French Bolt in Cleveland, Ohio. Other than that I know nothing.
Click on any image to see them larger.
The real mystery is who is the woman on the back of the cardboard mount? A transfer off of another photo showing a woman in some sort of graduation robe. I bought this photo a long time ago and it was hidden away in the chest I opened the other day. I'd remembered the sisters, but had forgotten about the shadow woman on the back. Interesting, yes?
And it's Christmas time which means for me Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby in White Christmas which of course means I have this song running through my head. This movie used to be a holiday staple, now not so much. It's still one of my favorites.
My best friend, the one I've known for over 50 years, sent me her visit with Santa in 1951. I quote her:
I am chewing on a metal plane. Santa's assistant thought I was a boy and gave me the airplane. (so my mother told me. I don't actually remember this particular event.)
That's another thing my best friend and I share. People thought we were little boys during our first year. Oh the pain of it. Scared my life forever. Nah.
Now are there any other brave souls willing to step forward with their first Santa picture? You know you're out there. You know you're envisioning it in your mind's eye right now. Come on...be a sport. Send me a link or a shot. Watermark if you want and I'll leave mine off. Or tell me how you want it watermarked. Whatever you like.
See Eddie Elephant over on the left? Nothing to do with vernacular photography. However, if you go over to my ephemera site you'll find out a little bit about Eddie. Just in case there was any confusion. Nah, it's simply a ploy to get you to look at the other site too.
Okay, I'll admit it, this ad isn't going to be of much help if you're hoping to buy camera gear for someone for Christmas. Kodachrome alone bit the dust this year. But if you were looking through the December issue of National Geographic in 1952 this ad might have given you all sorts of ideas. Yessiree, some film in the stocking and a Kodak under the tree. Good times. Good times. The beginning of the next years crop of vernacular photography. We benefit now. Will people benefit 50+ years from now from the pictures taken with this years digital cameras? Will there be any prints to survive. I hope so.
Click on image to see it larger.
Searching through a drawer last night, hunting for my grandmother's watch, I came upon this card. Every so often I find this card hidden in the bottom of the drawer covered by clothing. This is a card my mother wrote to her mother in the early 1950s.
Click on image to see it larger.
This is the ship I sailed on when I was around 18 months old. My family was on their way to Midway Island where we would live for a year. This ship, the Sergeant C. E. Mower, sailed from San Francisco to Hawaii transporting military personal and their families. Until now the mere mention of Sgt. Mower would bring laughs in our home because of the memories my folks have of the roughest sea voyage in their lives. But then tonight I decided to do a little bit of research online and came to have a more clear perspective of the history of this, as my mother called it, "crate."
The following is from Wikipedia and is quite interesting.
USS Tryon (APH-1) was laid down as SS Alcoa Courier (MC hull 175) on 26 March 1941, by the Moore Dry Dock Company, Oakland, California and launched on 21 October 1941 sponsored by Mrs. Roy G. Hunt. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, she was designated for U.S. Navy use and assigned the name Comfort in June 1942. Comfort was renamed Tryon on 13 August 1942, acquired by the U.S. Navy on 29 September 1942, and commissioned on 30 September 1942, with Comdr. Alfred J. Byrholdt in command.World War IITryon, an Evacuation Transport, got underway for San Diego on 9 October 1942 and departed from there on the 21st, bound for New Caledonia. On 7 November, she arrived at Noumea; joined the Service Squadron, South Pacific; and remained with that organization for the next 15 months, evacuating combat casualties from the Solomons to Suva, Noumea, Wellington, Auckland, and Brisbane. On her return trips to the forward areas, she carried priority cargo and troops for forces fighting the Japanese.Tryon's first combat duty came in the Marianas during the summer of 1944. On 16 July, she joined Task Force 51 at Lunga Point and sortied for the invasion of Tinian. The hospital transport arrived off the beaches on the 24th, combat loaded with troops and equipment. After unloading, she embarked casualties for a week and then got underway for the Marshalls. The ship called at Eniwetok, New Caledonia, Espiritu Santo, and the Russell Islands before anchoring off Guadalcanal on 27 August 1944.Tryon embarked 1,323 Marines of the 1st Marine Division and sortied on 8 September 1944, with Transport Division 6 of Task Force 32, for the assault on the Palaus. She was off the beaches of Peleliu on the morning of the 15th and disembarked elements of the assault wave. Then, serving as a hospital evacuation ship, she embarked 812 combat casualties and, on the 20th, stood out for Manus. She disembarked the patients at Seeadler Harbor four days later and headed back to Peleliu the next morning. The ship remained off the beaches from 28 September to 4 October and then joined a convoy bound for the Solomons.USS Tryon (APH-1) at sea during World War IIWhen Tryon arrived at Tulagi on 11 October, she was assigned to the 7th Fleet to participate in the Leyte campaign. She called at Hollandia and Humboldt Bay en route and reached Leyte on the 30th. The ship completed unloading the next day and began the return voyage to the South Pacific. The transport loaded troops and cargo at Langemak Bay from 13 through 27 December and headed for Manus on 28 December 1944.On 2 January 1945, Tryon stood out of Manus with Task Group 77.9, the reinforcement group, for the invasion of Luzon on the beaches of the Lingayen Gulf. She arrived off San Fabian on the morning of the 11th and began unloading troops and supplies. From 13 to 27 January, she received casualties on board and headed to Leyte Gulf where they were transferred to USS Hope (AH-7) and USS Bountiful (AH-9). On 2 February, she joined a convoy and departed for the Solomons.On 22 February, the evacuation hospital ship got underway and proceeded via Pearl Harbor to the United States for an overhaul. She arrived at San Francisco on 11 March and remained in the navy yard until 20 May. After refresher training in San Diego, she sailed for Hawaii on 3 June and arrived at Pearl Harbor the following week. The transport then called at Eniwetok, Guam, and San Francisco before returning to Hawaii on 2 August. The next day, she headed for Guam and arrived there on the 15th to hear that hostilities with Japan had ceased. Tryon was routed to the Philippines, embarked occupation troops at Leyte, and joined a convoy for Japan on 1 September. The transport disembarked the troops at Yokohama and received liberated Allied prisoners of war en board for transportation to the Philippines. She disembarked them at Manila on the 18th.Post-war operationsOn 1 October, Tryon was assigned to the "Magic Carpet" fleet which was established at the end of the war to return troops to the United States. She served with it through the end of the year. In mid-January 1946, the ship was slated for inactivation. She was decommissioned at Seattle on 20 March 1946, returned to the War Shipping Administration in April, and struck from the Navy list on 17 April 1946.Tryon was turned over to the United States Army on 17 July 1946 and converted into a troop transport by the Todd Shipyard, Seattle, Washington. She emerged from the yard on 25 August 1947 and was placed in service as USAT Sgt. Charles E. Mower.The Secretary of Defense, by a directive dated 2 August 1949, established a unified sea transportation service; and, on 1 March 1950, the ship was transferred back to the Navy Department, assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service, and designated T-AP-186. USNS Sgt. Charles E. Mower operated as a dependent transport shuttling between San Francisco and Pearl Harbor until she was inactivated in 1954.Sgt. Charles E. Mower was placed out of service, in reserve, on 16 June 1954; transferred to the reserve fleet at Suisun Bay; and struck from the Navy list on 1 July 1960.
Okay, I had no idea this little joke in our family had such a history. And what's even stranger is that for a long time I lived near where this ship was mothballed and every time I drove by the mothball fleet in Suisun I was driving by a ship I'd once sailed on. Hadn't a clue. It might still be there.
Now as to why the ship was named the Sargeant C. E. Mower, also from Wikipedia:
Charles E. Mower (November 29, 1924 - November 3, 1944) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.Mower joined the Army from his birth city of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and by November 3, 1944 was serving as a Sergeant in Company A, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. During an attack against Japanese positions that day, near Capoocan, Leyte, in the Philippines, Mower took command of his squad after the leader was killed and led his men from an exposed position despite being seriously wounded. He was killed during the battle and, on February 11, 1946, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.Mower was buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig City, the Philippines.
Medal of Honor citationSergeant Mower's official Medal of Honor citation reads:"He was an assistant squad leader in an attack against strongly defended enemy positions on both sides of a stream running through a wooded gulch. As the squad advanced through concentrated fire, the leader was killed and Sgt. Mower assumed command. In order to bring direct fire upon the enemy, he had started to lead his men across the stream, which by this time was churned by machinegun and rifle fire, but he was severely wounded before reaching the opposite bank. After signaling his unit to halt, he realized his own exposed position was the most advantageous point from which to direct the attack, and stood fast. Half submerged, gravely wounded, but refusing to seek shelter or accept aid of any kind, he continued to shout and signal to his squad as he directed it in the destruction of 2 enemy machineguns and numerous riflemen. Discovering that the intrepid man in the stream was largely responsible for the successful action being taken against them, the remaining Japanese concentrated the full force of their firepower upon him, and he was killed while still urging his men on. Sgt. Mower's gallant initiative and heroic determination aided materially in the successful completion of his squad's mission. His magnificent leadership was an inspiration to those with whom he served."
To see a photo of Sgt. Charles E. Mower click on this link.
Now, as to what my mother wrote inside the card...
Wed. MorningDear Mother,Thought I would let you know how we are making out. This is the ship we are on. It is supposed to be the smallest ship on the Hawaii run, and boy does it ever rock. In fact one of the sailors said it would even rock in dry dock. What a crate. We have a nice state room and private bath. The food is excellent. We were late in leaving Frisco so won't arrive until tomorrow (Thursday) in Hawaii.
Let me tell you we weren't out of the Golden Gate an hour before everyone aboard started to get sea sick. Sat. night was a rough night. I think every sailor and Marine aboard was sick. Sat. night they only had two guards left on duty and one of them was so sick he could barely hold his head up. Even the poor dog on board was sea sick. Some people are still below in their sacks. We are lucky we are on A deck. They have plenty of entertainment for the kids. Had an Easter party for them. They all got an Easter basket filled with candy. Had a birthday party for them yesterday and there are movies and story hours twice a day."
She then goes on to say about me that I was "an old salt. Never phased her" and that I was "running them ragged on deck trying to keep up with me. You should have seen her Sat. night. All night long she slid from one end of the crib to the other and when the ship started to rock she sang 'bye baby bye.'" Apparently I was a bit of an existentialist even at a very young age. And now I find for good reason. My dad informed me this morning when I was discussing this card with him that on the really bad night I was nearly killed by a lamp. My crib was under the port hole. Across cabin was a metal desk with a large heavy brass lamp on top. During the pitching and tossing that night the lamp came flying across the room and just missed me by falling to the floor right before my crib.
Eventually we made it to Pearl Harbor and flew to Midway Island. My mother used to tell me about the approach to the island. My dad pointed out the window at the tiny island and said "There's where you're going to live for the next year." My mother was stunned. But other than the lack of fresh food it was apparently a really good year and I have old footage of me running along the beach chasing Gooney birds near rusted wreckage from the Battle of Midway that had occurred a little over ten years before we arrived.
I debated whether to put this on my ephemera blog or here in the vernacular photography blog. It was a toss up, could have gone either way. It's a card, it's a photo. It's two, two, two things in one. And now for me Sergeant Mower is two things in one. The ship on which I made my first sailing adventure and a man who gave his life for his country. Sort of an odd mix to find at the bottom of a drawer.
To see an update to this post, including comments from Sgt. Mower's brother, click here.
To see an update to this post, including comments from Sgt. Mower's brother, click here.
Now whenever I see kids on a Santa's lap I think of the scene in "A Christmas Story" where the kids are mechanically thrown onto and off of Santa's lap by an elf with a bad attitude. You know it's happening out there. Kids left in a daze thinking "What the heck was that?" Wandering off through the mall, tightly gripping their parents hand, eyes huge as they try to process this moment.
Okay, so this might have been a visit to Santa in jail. What unfortunately looks like bars on the window and his cell number in front. I know, I know...it's not, but it makes me smirk to think about it.
Now remember, if you have a shot you've posted at your own site of your encounter with Santa I'd love to have the link. Or if you'd be willing to post it here let me know. I'll be digging around to find my own.
Thinking of doing a production of "A Christmas Carol" and you want to cast someone who really can get into the part of someone from Dicken's London? Perhaps this lady will do. She has the costume, the attitude, and as you can see her latest 8 x 10 is framed as a period piece.
Okay, so I know nothing about this woman other than she looks very Victorian. She's been lost in my office for many many years. I feared I'd thrown her out, but yesterday I found her, and a stack of photos I'd bought 30+ years ago, neatly stacked inside an old wooden chest buried under various old table cloths. There's nothing written on the back and the photographers stamp is confusing. I've tried a variety of spellings but nothing shows up on Google. I can't determine if it begins with "Aee", "Acc", "Nee", or "Mee", but nothing shows up no matter what. Any ideas?
Update: Thanks to Robert at Live From the Surface of the Moon for the following:
I think it's Allderige Art Co., which was in Wallingford, CT.
How often in your lifetime have you seen kids thrust into the lap of a department store/mall Santa only to see the kid go ballistic? All those times they've been told NOT to talk to strangers and now they're being told to tell this strange looking man EVERYTHING!
For many their first encounter with the jolly old man is less than jolly. I was fortunate because I was mesmerized. I have a photo of myself in a snowsuit sitting on Santa's lap. My mouth is open in awe and I'm staring at him. Love at first site. Not so for these kids.
You can almost hear the high pitched scream emanating from the one boy, irritating every person in the store, and making the other kids in line very very nervous. And the other boy just keeps repeating, "No! NO! NOOOOOO!" while being forced into Santa's face. I imagine he too was soon screaming at the top of his lungs. Did they need therapy after this? Were they handed a candy cane that they sucked on amidst their salty tears? Did their parents tell the Santa encounter story for years to come to all who would listen? All the adults smiling and laughing while the kids were flashing back on their holiday nightmare? I don't know. Like I said, I was in awe of Santa.
Have any good memories of meeting Santa? Do tell. Have a vernacular photo of your encounter? Do share.
Keeping with the image from yesterday I give you one of the photos that was not used on the cover of the infamous cookbook Cooking Outside: 101 Ways to Create Mud Pies which was a national bestseller in the early 20th century. I believe this is the same book that so inspired Martha Stewart to try catering.
Click on image to see it larger.
This must have been quite a photo shoot. A rather warm day so the mud kept drying and cracking. Thus the bucket in front of the table where water was kept so that our little cooks could reinvigorate their tasty morsels for the camera. I believe that might be their editor zipping off on the left in search of flowers to festoon the poppyseed cake.
For anyone who didn't make mud pies for tea when they were little I'm deeply sorry for that gap in your childhood. However, have I got a book for you!
Mud Pies and Other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls by Marjorie
Winslow. I've put a link in the left column to used copies of the book at Amazon.
"For forty years, Mud Pies and Other Recipes has been the consummate cookbook for dolls, using only the finest ingredients found outside. All of the perennial doll favorites are here, including Dandelion Soufflé, Wood Chip Dip, and, of course, Mud Pies.
This special 40th anniversary hardcover edition now includes a Tea Party in the menu section, so that dolls with discriminating palates will be prepared for every social occasion. Erik Blegvad's classically fetching illustrations provide the perfect dressing for Marjorie Winslow's outdoor cookbook for dolls." (SOURCE: Amazon)
I know I'd be proud to have it on my shelf...even with the muddy fingerprints and grass stains. Not something you'd say about most cookbooks.
Have you been thinking of remodeling your kitchen? Been pouring over every single interior design magazine hoping to find the perfect counter top, perfect cupboards? Thinking of double pane windows? Wanting to tear your hair out because of all the possibilities?
Well, stop your complaining and take a look at this. We're talkin' basic kitchen. Counter tops...wood. Cupboards...wood. Windows...WHAT WINDOWS? I'm thinking Lincoln Logs.
Click on image to see it larger.
I doubt this woman had very many grandiose ideas about her kitchen other than wanting help and a chair to sit down on. This is your basic kitchen, country style, around the end of the 19th century or beginning of the 20th. It was hot when it was hot and it was cold when it was cold. The wind blew through day and night. I don't know where this shot was taken, but I'm hoping it wasn't anywhere near snow country or she also had to deal with snow drifts when she walked from one side to the other.
So if you're thinking you'd like to go with a rustic country look for your kitchen remodel print out this vernacular photograph and hand it to your interior designer and watch their eyes spin when you say, "Could you match this? Of course with a stainless steel fridge."
Many months ago, June 9th to be specific, I did a post about small town America featuring a real photo postcard of downtown Virden, Illinois. Several months later I received an email from someone who grew-up in Virden and I promised to post another shot when I returned from vacation. I forgot, but I've finally remembered.
This is a real photo postcard of what looks to be a really lovely street in Virden. The card was post dated on July 11 at 9:30 am but there is no year on the postal cancellation. I'd imagine it's around 1905 to 1910. Purely a guess.
I wish I'd posted this during the summer because it has such a glorious summertime feeling to it, but I did promise this person I'd post it. I hope you and your folks enjoy this.
Click on image to see it larger.
Did anyone put the pieces together like a puzzle? Three of the pieces would fit fine. Two others were much smaller. I now give you the complete RPPC.
Home from a long holiday weekend I can guarantee no pictures like this were taken of my family. No, mostly embarrassing close-ups with flash. Nothing that will ever be worthy of a future 100 years from now vernacular photography site. So relatives, you may rest easy. The shots are just between us.
Click on image to see it larger.