KITTENS in the house

Not one of the cats I have adopted was ever younger than around 9-10 months when I took them in. With each of them, I wish I'd seen them when they were very young because they had to be stunning. I doubt I will ever own a kitten. That is something I will miss.

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It’s been a few months since I posted vintage snapshots of pets. I posted mostly images of dogs, a rabbit, and goat, but only a single cat photo. I will now rectify that.

I give you Muffy.

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Pet owners can go to extremes expressing their adoration for their pets. I love my pets, but I know that putting their food on a china plate with a sprig of parsley just makes me look like a fool. And the peas and carrot chunks in my dogs food are pointless. He just as happily consumes turkey shit, but I don’t think they’ll ever do a commercial showing a dog doing a taste test with turkey shit winning, parsley or no parsley.

The most extravagant thing I ever did for one of my pets was to buy a plaid dog collar at Harrod’s in London. I knew it would look great against his black fur. I still have the collar though the plaid is worn off and the dog died over a decade ago. That’s as wild as I ever got.

I never owned a cat until 1990. I’d always had dogs and birds. A cat was just a pet that other people had. I could never really understand the reason to own one. They were let out in the morning, they came back for food, then again went out. That was it. It wasn’t until I met a longhaired black cat named Whiskey that my attitude started to change. I can now happily say since 1990 I have resided in a home that has been the abode of choice to 4 cats; one is on my lap as I write this.

So let’s hear it for Muffy and its owner who decided the cat needed such a fancy abode of their own.

To see previous posts about pets simply click on “PETS” in the labels below.



This weeks Sepia Saturday is an image of Maypole dancers. I have fond memories of being a child in Hawaii taking part in the Maypole dance at school. The colorful ribbons, the kids trying to weave in and out, up and over, around and around. Our parents were invited to come watch. It was a dance, though I can’t recall what music was played.

I have decided to choose dance for this weeks images. All of the following were purchased at one estate sale a few years ago. I know nothing about any of the dancers; I also have no idea when these shots were taken. I do wonder if these ladies were influenced by the dancer Isadora Duncan. I’m fascinated by the gypsy influence.

Is the woman in this final shot posing for an artist? Was she the subject of a painting? There is something romantic about her pose, a light step within a gentle dance. I almost expect to see her in a Vermeer painting.

As a child I took dance, but then I started growing and was told by a relative that I looked clumsy. Those few words have stuck with me and now I only dance when no one watches.

Let's hear it for the beauty of the coming month of May and the beautiful Vanessa Redgrave in Camelot.

Click on the label "dancer" below to see more images of dancers.


GARDENING amongst the dead

I just did a Google search for two words most of you have probably not bothered to search: garden cemetery. There are, as of this date, 17,400 entries that show up. And why did I do this search? Because this weeks Sepia Saturday theme, as I interpret it, is about gardens. See how easy it is to connect the dots?

I do have photos of people standing in home gardens posing and smiling. I think getting your photo taken in a garden is almost mandatory; we’ve all done it. But how many have posed at gravesites in cemeteries with “garden” in their name?

I think putting the word “garden” and “cemetery” together is a marketing tool. It sounds better to think of friends and family in a garden rather than say…Boot Hill.

When I was in art college I had a watercolor teacher who sent us to a local grand cemetery to paint. We were in a garden, a garden that just happened to be full of dead people with a beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay. The class scattered all over the grounds. My friend and I positioned ourselves in front of a row of mausoleums that housed the remains of some of the most important people to have ever walked the streets of San Francisco. I had a Coca-Cola bottle that I kept filled with water as I painted. There was a faucet nearby where I could refill it.

In the beginning, as we quietly painted, it didn’t bother us to be sitting in the middle of the historical dead, but then we noticed ants. A trail of ants seemed to be coming from one of the mausoleums and then pass right between us, around my Coca-Cola bottle, and on down the hill. Suddenly the place got a little creepy. Where had these ants been? It started to freak us out just ever so slightly. We went back to staring at the view, then looking at the ants, then back to the view, etc. We’d stopped talking. It wasn’t a garden anymore, it was a place full of dead people with ants. And then I felt the tap on my shoulder and about jumped out of my skin. I let out the scream first which was quickly echoed by my friend. No, it wasn’t one of the historic founders of San Francisco tapping on my shoulder telling me I was blocking their view of the Bay. It was the teacher. He seemed to really enjoy our reaction.

I went back to that cemetery many more times to paint. It is a beautiful place with a gorgeous view that just happens to be full of the dead, including a close family friend. It’s where Eleanor is. Eleanor is forever in the garden.

I have no idea who these people are. They're in a garden. And isn't it sad to think that for some the only time in their lives they are sent flowers is after they're dead.


SEAPLANES take flight

A plethora of flight images for this week's Sepia Saturday.

In the late 1940s and during the Korean War my father flew seaplanes as a Naval aviator.

These first shots in black and white were taken in San Diego of a PBM utilizing JATO packs for take off. You can see the JATO rockets on the side of the plane. There were two on each side and a pilot could activate one on each side or all four at once. JATO stands for jet-fuel assisted take off. Click here to read about JATO.
The Martin PBM Mariner was a patrol bomber flying boat of World War II and the early Cold War period. It was designed to complement the Consolidated PBY Catalina in service. A total of 1,366 were built, with the first example flying on 18 February 1939 and the type entering service in September 1940. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
Click on any image to see it larger.

You can see the JATO packs in this shot.

To see a shot of a PBM in for service click here.

The second group of shots are of P5M’s in Iwokuni, Japan. I have no idea who any of the people are.

Click on any image to see it larger.

The Martin P5M Marlin (P-5 Marlin after 1962), built by the Glenn L. Martin Company of Middle River, Maryland, was a twin-engined piston-powered flying boat entering service in 1951 and serving into late 1960s in service with the United States Navy for naval patrol. It also served in the U.S. Coast Guard and with the French Navy. 285 were produced overall. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
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P5M approaching tender.

P5M refueling.

Stern of tender.
During the Second World War, both the American and the Japanese Navies built a number of seaplane tenders to supplement their aircraft carrier fleets. However, these ships often had their catapults removed, and were used as support vessels that operated seaplanes from harbours rather than in a seaway. These aircraft were generally for long range reconnaissance patrols. The tenders allowed the aircraft to be rapidly deployed to new bases because their runways did not have to be constructed, and support facilities were mobile much like supply ships for submarines or destroyers.
The German navy in World War II did not operate any seaplane tenders. However, the German air force, Luftwaffe, had 19 seaplane tenders of both large and small sizes in operation. These ships were mostly converted from existing civilian seaplane tenders, and were capable of carrying 1-3 seaplanes. The French and Italian navies also had seaplane tenders in service.
Seaplane tenders became obsolete at the end of the Second World War. A few remained in service after the war but by the late-1950s most had been scrapped or converted to other uses such as helicopter repair ships. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
To see another post about a P5M click here.

Over the years I’ve heard my father tell a lot of seaplane stories; one event during the Korean War in which only two planes took part is even mentioned in a book. The only one of his planes I was ever on was a P5M. I was a little girl and it was a huge plane. A vivid memory I'll have forever.

To see more about planes visit my other site, Tattered and Lost Ephemera, where I have been featuring vintage trading cards from the late 1950s entitled "Defenders of America".


LOOKING BLISSFUL at the Bliss Bros

I don’t find most cabinet cards particularly interesting because though, like all photographs, they capture a moment in time, cabinet cards capture a contrived moment. There’s nothing spontaneous about them. In fact, we learn only the superficial about the subjects. We may be able to determine a bit about their social status by analyzing the style of their clothing, which can also lead to dating the shot. Unless we have a name for the subject they’ll forever be a relatively blank slate. It’s virtually impossible to see any emotion in the blank stares that were required.

Click on either image to see them larger.

What I do find interesting are the photographers who took the shots. Unlike vintage snapshots where the photographers are rarely known, in fact virtually unthought of, with cabinet cards we see the specific work of the person behind the lens. We see a connection between the subject and the photographer when we are given a photographer’s name. We can search for more work by the same person.

This photo is from my friend Bert’s collection. A plain woman in a rather plain dress taken at the Bliss Brother’s Studio in Buffalo, New York.

Bliss Brothers (Harry A. and Frank H.) are sons of Horace L. Bliss, one of the oldest living photographers in Buffalo. He was born in Hartford, Conn., October 6, 1823, came to Buffalo about 1854 and learned the photographic business. In 1859 he established a photograph gallery at the corner of Main and Eagle streets, and successfully continued until 1886, when he retired on account of ill health. He made a specialty of outside photographs and also did considerable commercial work.
Harry A. and Frank H. Bliss are natives of Buffalo; the former was born February 28, 1866, and the latter February 6, 1858. Both were educated in the Buffalo public and high schools, learned photography with their father, and when the latter retired in 1886 succeeded him in business under the firm name of Bliss Brothers. Soon after starting, their portrait and commercial work had grown to such proportions that they separated the two, locating the latter on Oak street near Genesee, and continuing the former at the corner of Main and Eagle streets. They are among the leaders in both branches in Buffalo, and enjoy the highest reputation for artistic work. (SOURCE: Our County and Its People: A descriptive work on Erie County, New York; edited by Truman C. White; The Boston History Company, Publishes 1898)
The photo above of their studio is a portion of a larger photo at Shorpy.

Do an online search for “Bliss Bros” and you’ll find a variety of work, but nothing that really stands out as exceptional. Examples can be seen here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

However, researching the Bliss Brothers did shine a light on one of the big problems with researching anything on the net. How do you verify what you’re reading when posts everywhere are often nothing more than samplings from someone else's work? I give you the following example.

The Bliss Brothers are credited at one site as being the photographers of the famous shot of Harry Longbaugh (the Sundance Kid) and Etta Place. The site is for a"private investigator" so you’d hope they’d be detail oriented, though the birth year they list for Longbaugh is completely inaccurate at 1802. He did not live to be 107 years old.

I was willing to give the site the benefit of the doubt until I found the photo on Wikipedia claiming the photographer was the DeYoung Photography Studio located at 826 Broadway in New York City. This same credit is referenced at several other sites.

So which is true? Bliss Brothers or DeYoung? Does it even matter? Well, in our celebrity conscious society the idea that the photographer who took the above boring shot of the plain woman also might have taken a shot of the Sundance Kid and Etta Place does matter. We know the history, though sketchy, of Sundance and Etta. We have a reference point. We don’t have any reference point for the plain woman other than Buffalo, New York. And sadly, I have yet to find a copy of the Sundance and Etta shot with any markings indicating the photographer. I’ll go with DeYoung simply because so many other sites repeat this information. How accurate is it? I haven’t a clue.


SEABEES relaxing in World War II

Another vintage snapshot from my Uncle Roy's collection taken while in New Guinea in World War II. I have no idea what we're looking at in this shot.

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I've stated before that I never really knew Uncle Roy. For that matter I really didn't know my grandparents very well because we mostly lived on the opposite side of the country. My grandparents and Uncle Roy lived in Pennsylvania. Uncle Roy died in 1958. My grandparents died in 1968.

Through these photos I get a hint of who Uncle Roy might have been in the world outside the small town in Pennsylvania. I have to remind myself that these are the images Roy saw. He was the man behind the camera lens.

To see other photos taken during World War II by Roy click on the label "Uncle Roy" below.


A SEABEE armed and...

If you have followed this blog you'll know I have posted photos that belonged to my Great Uncle Roy who served as a Seabee during World War II.

In December of 2010 I posted this photo of a Seabee apparently ready for just about anything.

Here we have the same fellow outside, armed and possibly dangerous considering a bottle of booze was in the photo above.

To see more images from Uncle Roy's collection of Seabees click on the "Uncle Roy" label below.



This real photo post card is a companion piece to the last image I posted from World War I. Another mystery. I have no idea where it was taken.

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I have no information about this photo other than it was given to me by my best friend. It is a real photo post card sent by her grandfather.

Click on either image to see it larger.

Obviously, it's military personnel taken six months and two days after the armistice with Germany ending World War I. Other than that, it's a mystery.

I hope someone steps forward someday to identify this place, but I'm highly doubtful. Those with real memories of the war are all but gone. This is just a tattered and lost image.

From WJY of The New Found Photography comes the following information:
The armistice of November 11 would end the fighting, but not the war. The actual peace treaty would be negotiated between January and June of 1919. The Treaty of Versailles would be signed on June 28. Until then, American soldiers stayed in their barracks wating to see if they would go home or back to the front. This is, most likely, a shot of Americans hanging out near their barracks.


BABY MOHAWK with Vanessa Redgrave

I know the first thing most people will see when looking at this shot is the baby with the mohawk. In my case the first thing I saw was Vanessa Redgrave.

This was in a box with hundreds of photos at an antique store I rarely visit. I was getting bored looking through the box because most of the shots were just straight on posed shots, hundreds of them. Boring, boring, boring. And then I saw this and saw Vanessa's smile. I knew I had proof of a time traveling celebrity actually in preparation for a film. Had to be. Significant evidence. Vanessa Redgrave preparing for her role in YANKS.

Okay, so it isn't really Redgrave, but this woman is just as beautiful as Redgrave.

Now as to the baby with the mohawk....