The Bahrain McMANSION in 1957

The caption says this is a "Sheik's Palace Bahrain 57." I don't know why, but as soon as I saw it I thought of San Quentin Prison. If you take the ferry from Larkspur, California to San Francisco you pass right by San Quentin. For some reason that's what I thought of when I saw this. Perhaps it's the blockish windows in a row and the lack of greenery. I imagine inside it was pretty interesting.

Another shot from Donald G. Schnabel's visit to Bahrain.

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SHOPPING in Manama in 1957

The caption reads "Manama Bazaar Bahrain 57" so that about sums it up. Not a franchise to be seen.



Who knew Matthew McConaughey also worked as a driver in Bahrain? The guy is everywhere!

But seriously folks…this was the driver for Donald G. Schnabel in Bahrain in 1957. Handsome fellow.

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Just another time traveling celebrity.


AL KOHBAR in Saudi Arabia, 1957

In January of 1957 Donald G. Schnabel visited Saudi Arabia. I have been featuring his shots from Bahrain in February of '57. This is what happens when you go through slide boxes out of order. So we'll be jumping around the kingdoms for awhile.

These two shots are labeled "Al Kohbar, Arabia, Jan 57." Kohbar might be familiar to you, but not for a pleasant reason.

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For those who have been pleading with me to post the Al Justain photos…your wait is over. Al with friends.

In this first photo the keen viewer will recognize Donald G. Schnabel on the right. No idea who the other people are, though I'm guessing the woman with the sunglasses is Al's significant other.

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These two photos were taken in Manama, Bahrain in February 1957.

In the coming weeks there will be another Al Justain photo featuring Al with a donkey and a gas station. But don't go begging me to post it. Be patient. All Al in time.


LEAD A CAMEL to water...

and it could lead to a group of camels standing around shootin' the breeze.

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Because there was nothing else to do? Searching for water? Because it was told to.

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One of the things I find so fascinating about so many of these photos from Bahrain are the horizon lines in most of the shots. If you live somewhere with ongoing expanses of flat land with no hills in site this will not seem foreign to you. But for me, seeing an obvious horizon line where the sky meets the ground is very unusual. I'd have to drive to the deserts of the Southwest or perhaps head to someplace like Kansas to see a horizon like this.

This is not the first post I've done featuring camels. Click here to read about camels in California in 1863.


DRIVE BY in Bahrain in 1957

I'd mentioned that some of Donald G. Schnabel's photos appear to be taken while in a car. These two look as if they were drive by shots. There's always something about taking photos of "native" people that almost feels like watching an animal in their habitat. I don't care where you are, it could be midtown Manhattan, if you're taking photos of other people's lives you're an observer of something outside your norm, especially if you don't interact with them. If it's in a foreign country where the customs don't mirror what you are used to I think you're even more removed from your subjects. Thus the reason on several of Donald's photos the captions read "native" when identifying the subject. I don't think it's inherently bad to use the word, but it does feel awkward, even though accurate.

Each of the following shots were captioned "native house." Were they taken while the car was moving or did he stop and shoot these out the car window then drive off? I think if you've done much traveling you've probably done it yourself.

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The caption says "Bahrain Railroad Jan 57." That's it. I've got nothing. It looks like they're carrying bags of cement. I'm open to suggestions.

Donald G. Schnabel seems to have taken several photos while inside a car. Some are clear like this, others are blurred, but I might still post them.

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LAUNDRY DAY in Bahrain

It's Sepia Saturday and I'm way off theme. I actually do have a snapshot of children with flowers that I could post, though they look a bit like characters from "Children of the Damned." Instead I'm going to continue with Donald G. Schnabel's trip to Bahrain. So if you're just catching this part of the Bahrain posts, you might want to click back to some previous entries to see more of Bahrain in 1957.

It's Saturday which means it's laundry day at my home. I'm happy to say I don't beat my clothes on rocks before hanging them to dry. However, because of the drought, it's not simply a matter of throwing everything in the washer and then hanging them out to dry; there is a step in-between. The water from the washer has to be removed from the tub to large buckets to use to water the plants around the house. So if there are two full washes that's eight large buckets of water that must be siphoned off and toted to the front and backyard. On a very hot day I'm usually worn out by the third bucket. Hopefully today will be a bit cooler. I joke that I'm living in Little House on the Prairie. But until the drought lessens I have to worry about my well, and every drop of water, where possible, needs to be reused. It gets tiresome, but at least I'm not beating my sheets on a rock.

These two photos are labeled "Native laundry Bahrain Feb 57." I actually have posted laundry photos in the past that can be found by clicking on "laundry" and "voyeur laundry" in the labels below. None of the previous posts were as exotic as these taken by Donald G. Schnabel, Betty Schnabel's father.

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Still more photos of Donald's trip to the Middle East to come. And did I hear someone yell, "What about the camels?" Be patient my friend, be patient.


RUSH HOUR on the 405...

this is not. Did any other donkeys pass going the other way? Imagine a rush hour made up of donkeys bouncing along. I'd like to see lane changes. Would people tailgate? Would you suddenly be aware of another donkey riding too close and think "If I hit the breaks your insurance is going to go up." Let's just say I'm glad I don't need to ride sidesaddle on a donkey to get to TJs.

This is another snapshot taken by Donald G. Schnabel on his trip to Bahrain in January of 1957.

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The rubble at BADEA Bahrain

The caption on this slide says "Badea Bahrain 57." I did a brief search and didn't find anything specific about Badea, but Bahrain was involved in World War II on the Allied side so this rubble may be the result of bombing. I really don't know. Hopefully a wiser person will come along to provide the real story.

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Security wait at THE BAHRAIN AIRPORT IN 1957

I'm hoping people know what Bahrain looks like now. A place of insane construction of high rises with tourists and banking their major industry. But once upon a time, back in January 1957, this was the airport. Now I want you to wrap your head around this. For those who never experienced flying when it was still sane; when you were treated special. They were really thrilled to have you on board. You weren't treated like a contagious disease that needed to be turned in all directions and then placed in a hermetically sealed capsule and told to sit down and shut up. Not that I hate flying these days. It's a truly joyful experience and the airlines are bending over backwards to fill your every want and need as they pick your pockets. Snork.

Here we have the Bahrain Airport that Donald G. Schnabel visited. I'm guessing security, passport control, took a few moments and then you too could take a seat in the warm sun and wait for your plane to taxi over. Now I'm not saying the service was great. I doubt there were any little bottles of Scotch on board, fresh meals, warm wash clothes. Nope, I'm guessing the best you might hope for was a box of Chicklets to help your ears make it through take off and landing. But it was far more relaxed. Don't these fellas look relaxed?

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The tides is out or RUN AGROUND IN BAHRAIN

You decide. The caption says "Thornburg Bahrain Feb 57." I'm guessing this is not the boat Donald would be leaving on.

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The caption on this slide is "Thornburg guest house Feb 1957." I don't know what the weather is like in February in Bahrain, especially now with climate change, but if there was a nice breeze coming in off the water this porch could be very nice; just string up a hammock and leave me alone. On the other hand, if it's just a hot desert breeze…no thank you.

You can see the jetty in the background that was featured in this post.

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The GARDENERS at Umm as Sabaan

When Donald G. Schnabel visited Bahrain in February 1957 he visited the island Umm as Sabaan where Max Thornburg and his wife lived. Max was a Middle East specialist and an employee of Standard Oil who had been "given" the island as a gift from the ruler of Bahrain. A nice job perk for sure.

These three fellows were the gardeners on the island. I have no other information. No names are written on the slide other than Thornburg.

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I'm guessing these fellows were in their twenties when this shot was taken which would put them in their late 70s to 80s now. It would be fascinating to find out who they were and how their lives progressed. When Thornburg gave the island back to the royal family, which I'm assuming he eventually did, did these gardeners stay on or move on?

Just another glimpse into someone else's past.


The LITTLE ORANGE TREE in Bahrain in 1957

What can you say about such a tiny tree producing such a big piece of fruit? Is the tree large and thriving today? Does it provide shade and wonderful orange blossom scents? It's the little tree that tried and succeeded and was acknowledged for its effort.



A shot of Donald G. Schnabel on the jetty at Umm as Sabaan in Bahrain, 1957. This is the island that had been given to Max Thornburg.

Lovely water.

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You never know where old photographs will lead. I established yesterday that we were heading to Bahrain with Donald Schnabel in 1957. The only reason I knew this was because Donald had written brief captions on his slides. Along with writing "Bahrain Feb 57" he repeatedly wrote "Thornburg" which meant nothing to me. Within moments of doing a search for "Thornburg Bahrain" I found that Donald was the guest, or at least visited with, Max Thornburg and his wife Leila on their private island, Umm as Sabaan. I have two rather blurred photos from this visit with the Thornburg's.

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Max Thornburg was very involved with the Middle East and helped create some of what the world is having to deal with now. You can't think of those countries without thinking of oil and turmoil. Max Thornburg was involved in both.
Max Weston Thornburg (October 10, 1892 – September 21, 1962) was an American petroleum executive and government adviser. He was a petroleum adviser to the United States Department of State and a senior oil executive for the Standard Oil of California (SOCAL) and California-Texas Oil Company, Ltd. (Caltex) in the Middle East including Bahrain and Iran. He was a special assistant to the Undersecretary of State from 1941 to 1943 during World War II.

Thornburg was born in Long Beach, California to Eva Louise (née Holbrook) and Charles Hix Thornburg. He married Leila Baldwin Berry on March 30, 1918 in Lynchburg, Virginia. Leila's father, Rufus Albert Berry, was in the real estate business and also the postmaster in Berkeley, California.

Thornburg received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1917, and then a Bachelor of Science (1921), and a degree in chemical engineering (1933), both from UC Berkeley. He also did post-graduate work at the University of Grenoble in 1919. He served in the United States Army from 1917 to 1920, stationed at Camp Lewis, Washington,[5] and in France. He was discharged with the rank of captain.

In June 1936 the Standard Oil Company of California (SOCAL; later Chevron) and the Texas Corporation (Texaco) formed a new entity called California-Texas Oil Company, Ltd. (CALTEX), to market and distribute the crude oil produced by SOCAL east of the Suez Canal and the refined products produced at their new refinery being built on Bahrain Island. Thornburg was named a vice-president of the new entity, CALTEX. James Andrew Moffett, II., was named the chairman, as well as a director, and Howard M. Herron was president.

In the 1930s, the ruler of Bahrain gave the island of Umm as Sabaan as a gift to Thornburg. Later he was a vice president of Bahrain Petroleum Co., Ltd (BAPCO).

Thornburg was named as a "special consultant on international petroleum matters," by Secretary of State Cordell Hull, in August 1941, to serve under Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior and defense oil coordinator. Thornburg was to keep Ickes informed of the international aspects and problems of petroleum, which was crucial to the war effort both overseas and domestically to keep supplies flowing.

Thornburg died in Santa Monica, California at age 69. He was survived by his wife, Leila (née Berry) Thornburg (September 21, 1893 – October 13, 1969. They had three children, Roann (1919-1983), Priscilla (1922-1988), and Russell (1927-1989). (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
To read an in-depth article about Max Thornburg read The Catalyst of Nationalization: Max Thornburg and the Failure of Private Sector Developmentalism in Iran, 1947-1951 by Linda Wills Qaimmaqami. It's quite interesting to read in light of where we are today so it's worth downloading.

Searching for photos of Max Thornburg brought up only one shot of him with his wife and children. Sadly the link to the actual photo seemed to be dead. However, I did find this video from the July 9, 1951 CBS episode of the Longines Chronoscope show. Max Thornburg is introduced as "the war time petroleum advisor to the Department of State and expert on middle eastern affairs." It's fascinating.


Donald G. Schnabel visits BAHRAIN IN FEBRUARY 1957

We're going on another trip with Donald G. Schnabel and his camera. This time we're going to Bahrain in February 1957. I think you'll find the upcoming posts a bit interesting.

This first shot is, if the label is correct, a shot of Bahrain.

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It's hard to think of the Middle East without thinking of politics. And it's hard to not think of the politics of today without the history of the region. What part Donald G. Schnabel played, if any, I don't know. But there will be a historical figure involved who I never heard of. A post about him will be next. This man was very much involved with the politics in Bahrain and Iran.

This may or may not be the plane Donald flew in.

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SUNRISE or Sunset on Clear Lake?

Again we view slides from the Betty Schnabel estate. I'm guessing these were also taken by her father, Donald G. Schnabel, though I can't be sure.

These first two are of Clear Lake in Northern California. Sunrise or sunset? I don't know the lake well enough to judge from which side these were taken, but they fit nicely with the third photo.

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Written on this third slide is "Mother Clear Lake" and it is in the box of slides taken in Sweden in 1959. Clearly she is in the sunset of her life. I believe she was Betty's paternal grandmother, but again, it's just a guess.

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UPDATE: Intense Guy has kindly supplied me with the following about Donald's mother:
Donald's mother, Mary G Schnabel nee Maguire was born 20 Feb 1877 in Lima, Ohio. She married George E. Schnabel in 1897. George was born about 1876 in Ohio. If the photo was taken in 1959, she would have been about 82 years old. She died in 5 Dec 1964. She and George had about 10 children.

Dags att bjuda adjö till SVERIGE

Thank you Google Translator. With the aid of this 21st century software I can say "It's time to bid adieu to Sweden" and have it turn into something I don't even recognize. I'm hoping the headline actually says this and not "Dogs eat buddha Alpo till Sweden."

These last two slides have serious color issues and even more serious schmutz issues. I made a brief attempt at fixing the color, seriously…I did. I finally gave up realizing I just didn't care.

Click on either gorgeous image to see the schmutz even better.

So say "So long to Sweden in 1959" (really, say it out loud and see if it doesn't make you feel good) and we'll see where Donald takes us next.



Four shots of Stockholm to ponder. Why you'd ponder them I don't know. They're just nice shots of the city, with the fourth showing the name of a chocolate company, Mazetti Choklad. That is a far too subtle "billboard" for me. If you're going to advertise chocolate I want to SEE chocolate. I want it to be like Hershey, Pennyslvania where the light poles have giant chocolate kisses hanging from them. I want it to be like the old Hershey factory where you actually toured the factory and saw real vats of chocolate and at the end of the tour there were barrels full of chocolate that you could grab.

I'll admit that I prefer to think that in that last shot that is not dirty water, but a huge river of chocolate and the fella on the boat is about to take a header into the glory of Mazetti Choklad.

Västerbron - "The Western Bridge"

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Just a warning, don't leave me alone with chocolate if you expect it to be there when you get back.

Way off theme, but this is my submission this week to Sepia Saturday.


A LAPLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR with five reindeer...

…there is no punchline. That's it. This is another slide taken by Donald Schnabel in Sweden in 1959. I'm guessing it was taken at the Skansen Museum, but then again…a laplander walked into a bar with five reindeer…

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Walking through the SKANSEN MUSEUM in Stockholm in 1959

Yesterday it was a few polar bears at the Skansen zoo in Stockholm. Today we're going for a brief walk by some of the historic buildings located on the grounds of the Skansen Museum.
Skansen is the world's first open-air museum, founded in 1891. Here you can stroll through five centuries of Swedish history, from north to south, with a real sense of the past all around in the histori­cal buildings and dwellings, peop­led by characters in period dress. (Source: Skansen Museum)
I've never been to Sweden, but if I did, I'm sure I'd beeline for this place. I love going to places where historical buildings have been saved, grouped together, providing a feeling of the past. I'm a sucker for Williamsburg. Love that place. I've always wanted to visit the Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum. I'm also big on ghost towns with Bodie, California being my favorite. And if you're ever in Cody, Wyoming, besides visiting the incredible Buffalo Bill Center of the West, make sure to go Old Trail Town. Like I said, I'm a sucker for these places.

These photos were most likely taken by Betty's father, Donald Schnabel, Sr. during his trip to Sweden in 1959. All he wrote on the slides was Stockholm, so I'm guessing they were taken at Skansen. I might be completely wrong.

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and you take one shot. Only one shot. Film is expensive, so what is your one shot?

I give you polar bears in Stockholm in 1959. I'm betting it's safe to say these bears have all passed on. They are bears no more. But when they were bears, they were gorgeous bears.

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I'm guessing these bears were at the Skansen Museum zoo. Seriously, this is the ONLY shot taken at the zoo.