I do know who this little boy is. He was my mother's younger cousin who was raised by my grandparents. I wish I could say he grew up to be a wonderful person, but he didn't. 

He looks like a little Peter Pan. In truth, part of his problem was that he stayed Peter Pan through the part of his life that we knew him. He never grew up and we lost track of him many years ago.

I hope he found his Neverland and Wendy and not just Captain Hook.


SECOND in line

Hand-me-downs. Sometimes it's clothes. Sometimes it's toys. Whatever it is, you just hope if you're second, third, or whatever in line is that what you get still has some resemblance to what it originally was. In this photo...ummm...not so sure.

Click on image to see it larger.

Body language can say a lot. I think a lot could be said here. The little girl on the right, with her pretty little new looking doll, is keeping her distance from the one on the left with the ummm...the ummmm...what is it that kid's holding? It has legs. It surely has legs, but I don't see a head. Could that explain the smile on that child's face? Does that child have a slightly maniacal laugh? I'm just asking? Me thinks somebody is getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

And yes, I also collect vernacular photographs of children with toys. It's usually little girls with dolls. Little boys usually are holding guns. I'm just sayin'.



This brochure is from Disneyland in 1963. You'll have to click on the images to see them larger, but for anyone who has been to the park this will probably be somewhat familiar. I'm talking about the perfect picture spots located all over the park. Little signs that tell you that here's a nice place to stop, take a picture, and if you're lucky it'll look just like the ones you see in the stores. Picture postcard perfect. Of course, rarely did anyone end up with perfect shots, but Kodak and Disneyland did their best to help you along. They told you where to stand, what film to use, what f stop. People who have grown up with digital have no idea what it was like to carry a camera and a light meter and set up for each shot. 

kodak momentFRONT_disneyland_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

Now you might wonder why I've included this in my vernacular photography site. For me it's obvious. Somewhere, out there, in photo albums, closets, dresser drawers, are thousands, maybe millions, of snapshots taken at these exact spots shown on the map. This is vernacular photography. My challenge is for anyone who reads this to look for any snapshots they have and email me copies to place here next to the map. I'm not sure I even have any myself. If I do they're all slides belonging to my father. 

Anyway, take a look at the map and think about it. If you find something, let me know. My guess is that nobody will respond, but with the way things live on on the net somebody 15 years from now might see this and say, "Whoa, dude, look at this! Treasure map. I think we've got the pictures to document this."

Click on image to see it larger.

UPDATE: I found this in a drawer. I believe it was taken at spot number 17 on the map in 1955 though the film was not processed until 1956.


Just a little BLUSH IN THE SKY

I love this photograph. It was given to me by my best friend. She gave me a stack of photos that she'd bought many years ago at a flea market. She finally decided maybe she'd better get them out of her house before circumstances in the future had her kids sorting through her belongs saying "Do you know these people? Are we related to these people?" So now they're all settled in with all the people I've found.


A lot of people might look at this shot and just think it's a mess, but I think it's lovely. The choice made to hand tint the sky and buildings is interesting. The woman is left colorless, except for a small amount of the brown on her neck. Because of this it almost has an appearance of a collage. It's as if she's simply been cut-out and stuck in the midst of the snowy park. There's a painterly feeling to it. And knowing someone labored over this, made specific choices as to where to use color, makes it even more special because it really is one of a kind. There isn't another one in existence just like it even if many prints were made from the negative.

Today tinting of black and white photos can be easily done in Photoshop, but it often loses the spontaneity that real hand tinting created. There was a delightful messiness that often happened. And if you screwed up, so be it, there was no way to delete and try again on the same print. To read a little about the history of hand tinting click here.



This is why I call my blogs Tattered and Lost®. I find little photos like this and I sigh noting that it's badly tattered and most assuredly lost or it wouldn't have ended up now in my care.

This little girl is beautiful. She looks like a little doll standing on the stool. I wish I had the ability to sculpt a doll that would look this sweet in a little white dress with a red ribbon wound through the fabric.

You can't help but want to be protective of her. I hope her life was full of more joy than sorrow.



I have quite a few photographs of this woman that I purchased from a drawer full of photos at an antique store. Not one has any information about her written on the back, well except this one which says it was shot at a department store studio in San Francisco. But I really like her, at least what I've made up about her. She was a very stylish woman, always nicely dressed right through her older years. She loved to travel, especially aboard ship. She enjoyed all the shipboard parties. And she had red hair. But not in one photo do I ever see her with someone. She's either with groups or alone. She always looks happy. She's a vernacular photography mystery. 

Nothing is written on this card. Was it a leftover after she'd sent out a stack to friends? Did she get the card made and then decide not to give it? Or did she just not sign things? We'll never know. But I hope she had a happy Valentine's Day.



HURRY, HURRY, cut the cake

People who collect vernacular photos of people they don't know often collect, dare I use the word and risk my best friend grinding her teeth?...genres. There, I said it. Genres. An overused word. A word that often sounds as if it's given importance to something that just isn't important. So I'm going to use it and say one of the genres I collect are people cutting cakes. Basically, if I see a shot of someone cutting a cake I grab it. They almost always make me laugh. 

Cutting the cake is a ceremony that we all seem to willingly put up with because we know we're going to score some cake at the end of all the nonsense. Weddings are notorious for raising cake cutting to a whole other realm. Cutting and sharing the cake takes on meanings well beyond the simple butter, eggs, and flour sitting on a table. The moment must be documented with photos. We are celebrating the couple, though most just want to know if it's white or chocolate cake and are already debating how long the marriage will last. Yeah, I'm a bit cynical.

No less popular is cutting the cake at birthday parties. Kids learn this at an early age. It's pretty much the whole reason for going to the party. The cake. It better be a good one or the word of the failure will run rampant through the school.

We have special knives for cutting the cake. Some people must put the cakes on special plates.

And then there's pot luck dinners where it's all self-serve. Sometimes the cake has already been cut by the time it's placed on the table amongst the other desserts. As each piece is taken away the remainder starts to look pathetic, sometimes caving in on itself so by the time you get a piece it no longer looks remotely like a piece. It looks like a mound. And because the cake was pre-cut there's no magic associated with it. We're sharing the cake, but not the moment. It becomes what it really is...just a cake.

The picture below is obviously a special cake, a special moment. You can barely see the actual knife being held by the man and woman. Though this looks like it was taken at an Italian restaurant the man looks like someone you'd find in a French New Wave film from the '60s. Meanwhile the boy looks right out of the suburbs in the '50s and he's anticipating getting his piece. The moment is secondary to him. It's all about the cake. 

But here's what I really like about this shot. There's something missing in this picture. Something very obvious. Something that should be there. Can you find it? 

cut the cake_tatteredandlost
Click on the image to see it larger.

And then there's this delightful shot where the two on the right are nearly giddy over the moment. Meanwhile, the woman cutting the cake takes this all very serious. For her it's an historical moment, or as my dad likes to say an "hysterical moment." 

oh joy_cake_tatteredandlost



This found photo makes me laugh on so many levels. Again, it's all in the details.


There are lots of snapshots floating around of kids in costumes, so the Indian costume is not all that important, though it does add to the oddness. No, what makes this shot funny is the dour/bored look on the child's face in unintentional juxtaposition with what's written around the outside trim.

          "Don't you wish you had a nice little brother playmate like me"

What exactly was going through this boys head? He could be annoyed that he had to take a break from his playtime to pose for the shot. He could have been sitting there quietly contemplating his history as a great chief when mom walked by with the camera saying, "Oh, you're so precious. Just hold still." Or he could be sadly lamenting that he actually doesn't have anyone to play with. Whatever his thoughts, the caption certainly doesn't sell him as a joyous funster. So who exactly did mom write this message for? Who was she trying to convince that her boy was fun?

And then I flip the photo over and there's the stamp on the back. "KODAK PRINT BY THAT MAN GALE" seems like a really interesting way to refer to yourself. 

          "So, where did you get these prints made?" 
          "Oh you know, that man."


How did Gale, that man, decide on this as his catchphrase? Was he a person of low self-esteem who had always been referred to as "that boy" while growing up and now, having chosen a profession, decided to be "that man" but with his name in large cap letters as a reminder he was now somebody? Did husbands come home from work and hear their wives talking on the party line saying, "Oh, you should see what that man gave me today." Me thinks Gale had a bit of a funny bone and knew exactly what he was doing. A brief bit of genealogy about "That Man" can be found here. I haven't found anything else about him.


WALKING and laughing

Rarely is there anything written on the back of the photos I find. No scrap of information. This one at least gives me a date, Dec. 26, 1952. Then there's "J. T. D. Tenn & Sh" which I imagine was the person's shorthand for the names. Leads me to believe the adult was named Tenn. Could be the dad, uncle, or family friend. Whatever the relationship, the children seem to adore him. There's some teasing going on which the kids are clearly enjoying. It's just a nice shot of people sharing a moment of joy and fun. It's nice to take a moment and try to imagine the sounds of their laughter, the footsteps on the dirt and gravel road, and sense the warmth of the day.

day after Christmas walk_tatteredandlost
Click on the image to see it larger.


A SUNNY DAY in the Old West

A chance to step back in time. Perhaps this was a home, but I'm thinking boarding house. I imagine the original homestead was the 1 story house on the right with the "time for dinner" triangle hanging out front. The two story abode was probably added later. Looks like a nice enough place. Have no idea where it is. No reference was written on the back. 

the boarding house_tatteredandlost
Click on the image to see it larger.

There must have been a lot of life going on in this place. People coming and going. Meals being served. Heartaches. Loneliness. Snoring at night. Candles moving from room to room in the darkness. Crickets outside all day long in the shade of the trees. A nice lazy hammock on the second floor balcony for afternoon naps. The sound of the screendoor creaking open then slapping shut. Wagons arriving with goods then leaving. Horses tied up out front, though I don't see a hitching post. Birthdays shared. Holidays. Yup, this building was important and would have stories to tell. A moment frozen in time that cannot show the life that was lived there. Oh for a time machine and a chance to travel back for a day. To stand in front of this building and turn a complete 360 to see the surroundings. I can get lost in these places.