4/12/11

AIR NEWS PHOTOS, San Francisco


I bought this photo a few years ago at an estate sale. It was at the home of an elderly woman who had passed, her husband had passed years before and was a well decorated officer from World War II. Of course, I didn't bother to get any names so I cannot give leads as to who any of these people might be or why this photo was taken.

I've always thought these folks looked like a group of advertising and PR men with their wives, early to mid-60s. Mad Men. I don't recognize anyone, which means absolutely nothing. These could have been well known people in the San Francisco/Bay Area. I'm guessing there are a lot of interesting life stories to be told about this group.

And please notice how these folks were dressed to take a flight. Imagine anyone dressing like this these days. I mean...white gloves!

Click on images to see them larger.





I'm not finding much about the photographer, Ralph D. Demeree of Air News Photos, other than it was a family owned operation. To see other photos by ANP click here to go to Demeree's grandson's Flickr site. I'll see if I can contact the fellow about supplying some more information.

UPDATE: Well folks, it doesn't get any better than this. I have heard back from Ralph D. Demerre's grandson, Paul Osborne, with some wonderful information. I'm going to post his comment within the post so that it is searchable. In the future when someone wonders about ANP and Ralph D. Demeree they'll have the honest truth from his grandson. Thank you Paul!
Yes, Ralph Demeree is my grandfather, and I can tell you quite a bit from this photograph, but very little about the people in shown. This would have been shot in the late 1950's, based on the address of my grandfather's studio, and also because it was before my father joined the business in 1959. Air News Photos began in the early 50's, specializing, as the name implies, in the fledgling air travel industry, specifically in the San Francisco/Oakland area. This is an example of literally thousands of similar shots made by my grandfather, and in later years, by my dad, of groups traveling through the Bay Area, embarking on an adventure to far-off destinations via (in this case) TWA. Over the years, Air News Photos provided "home-towner" publicity photos for all of the major air carriers operating out of SFO and OAK. Typically, a group would make tour arrangements through a local travel agent, the airline would receive notification and dispatch Air News Photos to photograph the group prior to departure, and to gather personal information (local newspaper, home address, etc.). Then, a press release was written and sent out. The airline benefitted from the publicity, the newspapers had good, human-interest material, and the travelers were treated like celebrities. With slight variations, this was the bread-and-butter of the Air News Photos business model for more than 30 years. So, from the other rubber stamp on the back of the photo, I would guess these travelers were probably from Marin County, and they had their itinerary arranged by the Orrick agency. They were probably regular folks, possibly well-to-do, but not necessarily. Remember, everyone dressed to go out, even to see a movie! An aviation buff might be able to say definitively what type of aircraft they're boarding. My guess would be a Lockheed Constellation. TWA had a lot of them. Ralph Demeree died in 1980, after an adventurous life and career as a boxer, race car driver, musician, newspaper reporter and columnist, and photographer. To me, he was just Gramps. Thank you for your interest, and for giving me the opportunity to brag a little on my family's business. —Paul Osborne

9 comments:

  1. Yes, Ralph Demeree is my grandfather, and I can tell you quite a bit from this photograph, but very little about the people in shown. This would have been shot in the late 1950's, based on the address of my grandfather's studio, and also because it was before my father joined the business in 1959.

    Air News Photos began in the early 50's, specializing, as the name implies, in the fledgling air travel industry, specifically in the San Francisco/Oakland area. This is an example of literally thousands of similar shots made by my grandfather, and in later years, by my dad, of groups traveling through the Bay Area, embarking on an adventure to far-off destinations via (in this case) TWA. Over the years, Air News Photos provided "home-towner" publicity photos for all of the major air carriers operating out of SFO and OAK. Typically, a group would make tour arrangements through a local travel agent, the airline would receive notification and dispatch Air News Photos to photograph the group prior to departure, and to gather personal information (local newspaper, home address, etc.). Then, a press release was written and sent out. The airline benefitted from the publicity, the newspapers had good, human-interest material, and the travelers were treated like celebrities. With slight variations, this was the bread-and-butter of the Air News Photos business model for more than 30 years.

    So, from the other rubber stamp on the back of the photo, I would guess these travelers were probably from Marin County, and they had their itinerary arranged by the Orrick agency. They were probably regular folks, possibly well-to-do, but not necessarily. Remember, everyone dressed to go out, even to see a movie!

    An aviation buff might be able to say definitively what type of aircraft they're boarding. My guess would be a Lockheed Constellation. TWA had a lot of them.

    Ralph Demeree died in 1980, after an adventurous life and career as a boxer, race car driver, musician, newspaper reporter and columnist, and photographer. To me, he was just Gramps. Thank you for your interest, and for giving me the opportunity to brag a little on my family's business.

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  2. Thank you Paul! I've posted your comment in both the comment section and the main post. I want people to benefit from what you've told me whenever people do a search of your dad or grandfather. Again, thanks!

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  3. Wow!
    Paul's wonderfully written comment adds a lot to the post. How very interesting. And what a guy Gramps must have been...boxer, race car driver, musician, newspaper reporter and columnist, and photographer!

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  4. A Great Photo & Great Information here.& what a grand idea for a photo business.
    As to this particular photo..maybe they look like they are off to a Toothpaste Convention :)

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  5. Excellent find! It is always so gratifying to get feedback from someone who identifies with a photograph. This one made big time connections!

    And yes, that's a Connie. I did a page on them last year, 02/10/2010.

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  6. I Have come across a box of hundreds of old negatives from Ralph Demeree, Richard Osborn and Air News Photos. Some of them are similar to the one above or with celebrities of the day. Most of them are from the sixties with a few from the late fifties and early seventies. I'm not familiar with many of the names but some notables are; Bobby Kennedy, Herbert Hoover, Gov. Reagan, Pres. Roosevelt, Dick Van Dyke & Julie Andrews, Lyndon Johnson, Hugh Heffner w/ 40 bunnies, Alan Sherman and Satchimo... They go on and on. Also some great pics of the Palace of fine arts in S.F. and the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan.
    I was happy to find this blog to shed some light on the history of the photos. I was initially hoping to sell the pics but dont know the possible legal implications. Still it is cool to get a glimpse of a better vanished time.

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    Replies
    1. What an incredible find! You might want to contact a place like Getty Images to see if they'd be interested in purchasing the collection. They'd then become available for public use as stock photos.

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  7. Correction to that last comment... I was showing my 12 year old son my comment and he "reminded" me the negatives of Roosevelt couldn't be from the sixties as he passed in 1945. Apon further inspection those pics are of a private party for Rudy Valle aboard the First Class Cruise ship SS President Roosevelt!

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    1. Really incredible. I'm thinking you've got the beginnings of an interesting book.

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