Last year at the flea market I bought the strangest photo album I've ever seen. It's not that the photos are particularly odd. People in the photos look perfectly normal. The album is missing probably 2/3 of the original photos and apparently a lot of foreign money that was on the left hand pages. What remains on many pages are the photo corners with captions handwritten in white ink below each empty spot that seem to tell a rather strange story. The real oddness is that the fellow who put the album together often put the same photo multiple times in the album, but each with a different caption. So you look at the first page and you see one of him with his "first wife" and then two pages later the same photo shows up with a different caption. The weirdest of all is the page where he has the exact same photo, one above the other, different captions below each.

I think the only way I'll be able to do any justice to any of it is to actually take photos of some of the pages. There's no way I can scan the pages without doing damage to the album. Some photos I can remove and scan, such as the one below.

When I first saw the album another buyer was looking at it. I moved in close, within his space, wanted him to feel a little uncomfortable. I wanted the album. It worked. He moved on and I grabbed it. It has over 20 photobooth shots, some handtinted. Let's start with this one. The caption below it reads:

Girl. cousin By. marriage
And that is one of the least strange captions. But we'll get to some of the others in time. For now enjoy "Girl.cousin By.marriage" and ponder what the heck was the owner of the photobooth thinking with that backdrop? Seriously, a Nazi plane crashed in the background? And of course it's made even stranger by the placement of the cigarette in the woman's hand next to the flames in the water. Okay, it was war time. I get it, sort of. But was it common to have backdrops showing death and mayhem? I'm not sure I've ever seen anything like this before.

Click on the image to see it larger.


  1. Haha, what a great find! Looking forward to the next installment...

  2. How bizarre. The Nazi insignia, her cig near the flames. I'm thinking it must have been a photo booth in Coney Island or similar amusement park that would have over-the-top stuff like this. Very strange, that is to say, it's great.

  3. Excellent find. What a story to untangle! I will wait and watch for the rest.

  4. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the photos. This backdrop is uh amazing.

  5. Bizarre? Yes. Intriguing? Definitely! I love the little game with the other shopper. I've done that. Oh what stories could come!

  6. Very interesting backdrop..I have never seen one like it before either.

    Good job on getting the album..I hope I never encounter you in a sale..:)

  7. It took me awhile to go after things when I spotted them, though I'm polite with how I do it. I hover. That's the main thing I do. I hover just inside another person's space. It usually works.

    I have come across people who take it one step too far and grab. Had that happen at an estate sale when I was looking at a large box of post cards. I was happily going through the box when suddenly a woman stepped up and grabbed over 1/3 of the cards, her arm nearly hitting my nose. I stood there stunned for a few moments before deciding that if she was going to play that game I was going to one-up her. So I grabbed the remaining cards from the box and stacked them on a table. When she came back I looked her in the eye and said, pointing to the stack, "I've gone through those and I'm keeping them." Of course I did't buy all of them, but I got rid of her.

    Hovering is the least offensive method I've found.