Saturday, September 05, 2020

More Vintage People

Old pictures of people... everybody loves them! 

First up is this Kodachrome photo, hand-dated "September, 1951"... 69 years ago. The label also tells us that the nice lady is named Marge, and the boy's name is Larry. Larry is sporting his generic Three Little Pigs shirt, thereby avoiding Disney's licensing fees. Pretty shrewd for a three year-old! His blue jeans are so big that he will probably still be wearing them in five years... the cuffs are up to his knees. Nice tricycle, kid.

Remember when the whole family gathered in the evening to listen to the radio? Neither do I! But I love the idea of it. Theater Of The Mind. "Gunsmoke", "Jack Benny", "The Life of Riley", "Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar", "Lux Radio Theater", "The Great Gildersleeve", "Blondie", "Dimension X", "The Adventures of Philip Marlowe"...  the list goes on and on!

The li'l cowgal has hair that looks like it was licked by a heifer. From the cold way she is looking at us, she'd shoot us dead just for interrupting "The Cisco Kid". To our left is a bookcase full of classical  78 rpm records in those multi-disk albums. On top of the case are several kachina dolls.

The next one is undated and unlabeled, but in my mind I imagine that this family is walking to (or from) church on a wet winter day. Look at all the wonderful cars! I wish I knew more details about this photo.

I can't help being reminded of this painting by Norman Rockwell, "Walking to Church", that was featured on the cover of the April 4, 1953 issue of "The Saturday Evening Post". In 2013 this painting sold for $3.2 million dollars!


Nanook said...


I think at long last we've finally found the 'gold standard' for the tallest set of jean "cuffs". You're not kidding about being able to get five years worth of growth out of those pant legs.

I'm thinking that fabulous floor model radio could be a Philco, model 40-180, from about 1939. It originally sold for $69.95 - about $1,307.00 today

As for that mystery image, it is a beauty. And cast my vote for it being a church-going excursion. That appears to be a Flying A gas station in the background. In the foreground, that's a green/white, 1956 Dodge; to the right is a brown, 1956 Buick Special; and scurrying-away off to the right is a 1955 Chevrolet.

Thanks Major, for sharing these vintage folks with us.

P.I. said...

Mesmerizing, that's what the photo of the four family members walking on the wet sidewalk is to me.

The fact they are anonymous, adds an element of mystery to it.

Look at the expressions on their faces. Did the photographer know that family? Or, was that person just taking random shots?

The park, the colors, the cars, all of those things make me ask, who?, when?, where?, and why?

Photos of everyday life are usually trivialized by celebrity obsessed professional photographers. What those individuals don't seem to understand, is the power those so-called "mundane" photos have.

Do you find most of your photos at swap meets/flea markets, or garage sales? If you do, have you ever found school yearbooks?

Nanook said...

That green coupe driving by in a blur behind the sisters is most-likely a 1950, Plymouth business coupe. (And is ‘Dad’ carrying big sister’s rain boots-?)

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, from this day forward, I vow to find even longer cuffs! It’s nice to have a purpose in life. Wow, a 1939 Philco, that thing was kind of old by the mid-1950s - though it probably sounded great. It’s funny to think that $69.95 was a king’s ransom back in ’39. With your IDs on the cars, I think it’s safe to guestimate the date of the photo at least… probably 1956 or ’57 at the latest!

P.I. thanks for your thoughtful comment! I used to go to garage sales and swap meets all the time, my Sunday-morning ritual was to get up early and head over to one of several swap meets that were not too far away. I’d occasionally go to estate sales, but they were usually pretty picked over by the time I got in the door. Garage sales were a mixed bag, lots of plastic children’s toys and baby clothes and what most would classify as “junk”, but sometimes I’d get lucky! And yes, I used to see school yearbooks, but I didn’t buy them because it wasn’t really in my “zone” if you know what I mean. Nowadays it’s mostly eBay for sheer ease, though the prices of slides that look like they are good, and also from the 1950s, have gone up to the point that I don’t buy much anymore.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, yes, I think those are the old red "gum rubber" rain boots in Dad's hand!

Melissa said...

That radio looks a lot like the one we used to have in the attic, but I think ours was a bit newer. We could still make the light come on, but we couldn’t get a signal. It was the same one Mom and her brothers used to listen to as kids; they strung wires all around the top floor of the house and got signals from as far away as Wheeling, West Virginia. Whenever We kids would ask a uestion she couldn’t answer, she’d say in a sepulchral voice, “ONLY THE SHADOW KNOWS.”

It’s had to tell from just the bottom of a face, but the painting that’s cut off in the second picture looks like it could be a portrait of Cowgirl’s mother. Speaking of Cowgirl, I don’t like when anybody with a gun looks at me that way! ;)

Adorable little detail in the last picture: Dad carrying Blue Sister’s rain boots.

DKoren said...

I quite love these. There is a beauty to seeing everyday lives in past years captured like this. Cowgirl is one tough-looking gal! Is that some kind of astroturf in the first picture? It doesn't look like real grass.

JC Shannon said...

I like to make up stories about pics like these. Big sis is saying "But daddy, if I wear my wellies, no one will see my new Mary Janes." Little Annie Oakley is saying to the camera holder, "Take my pichur, and I'll drop ya where ya stand." And the little boy, "Nothing gets between me and my Calvin Kleins...except this here diaper." Keep em coming Major and thanks.

Irene said...

This is the era I grew up in having been born in 1948. Almost all my photos from this time period are in black and white. My dad had a large collection of 78 rpm records in cases just like that. When we moved, my mom got rid of them unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

"Photos of everyday life are usually trivialized by celebrity obsessed professional photographers. What those individuals don't seem to understand, is the power those so-called "mundane" photos have"

How true P.I. I looked at that picture and immediately transported myself back to those times in Cincinnati...being the same age as those young girls in the picture. KS

Nanook said...

@ P.I. & KS-

Photographers such as Gary Leonard, Vivian Maier, Diane Arbus and Helen Levitt - to name but a mere few, understood the power and importance of images obtained from "everyday life". Their images are so full of raw energy, honesty, emotion and story, one can't help but be drawn into each subject, looking for tidbits of what makes us all tick.

If you really want to have a blast, Suggest starting here to check out Vivan Maier - if you haven't already heard of her.

zach said...

Thanks, Nanook. Many of those are reminiscent of my time spent in downtown SF with my Dad in the 50's.

Keep these glimpses coming, Major.


P.I. said...

Nanook, thank you for the link. I am now a fan of Vivian Maier!... I don't remember Ms. Maier - at least not by name - some of her photos look very familiar.

I know who Diane Arbus, and Helen Levitt are.

However, I never heard of Gary Leonard.

When I was young, I used to get into heated arguments with hipster-dufus photographers about what subjects were important. The world does not need more photos of Kim Kardashian. Know what I mean?

Nanook, are you familiar with a podcast by the Film Photography Project?

Major Pepperidge, do you have more photos that were taken during a rainy day, or a snowfall?

It's a genuine pleasure to interact with all of you, and I'm happy to have found this blog.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I used to watch videos by a guy who restores old radios, it seems that they very rarely continue to work over the decades. Tubes, condensers, all kinds of things crap out. Watching them always makes me wish I’d studied electronics, it looks kind of fun! I thought the painting looked like an American Indian, perhaps a Navajo. It would fit with the Kachina dolls.

DKoren, I agree, things that would seem so mundane years ago now have charm and beauty. A world lost forever, for better (sometimes) or worse (in many ways)! Did they have fake grass back in the ‘50s?

Jonathan, ha ha, it’s fun to make up little vignettes to go with each photo, I do it all the time without even meaning to. I guess it’s just something our brains do.

Irene, my grandma had quite a lot of 78 rpm records, but her house was robbed once when she was away, and the burglars smashed every one of the records! Why? Who knows. We used to play them on my mom’s old portable record player, it had the option of playing 78 rpm disks, 33 1/3 disks, and 16 rpm disk (my grandma also had some old opera records that were 16 rpm, they were big!).

KS, somehow the old LIFE magazine managed to have photos of the rich and powerful, and also wonderful photos of everyday life; once in a while I’ll find an old issue of LIFE, and it’s always a treat to flip through it and see what was going on at that moment in time. And while my family didn’t walk to church, I still connected with that last photo!

Nanook, the whole story of how Vivain Maier’s work was discovered is so fascinating. She really was a truly brilliant artist, practically unknown in her lifetime. Can you imagine being that guy who found her work? Thank goodness he realized what he had!

zach, I regret selling off so much of my slide collection - I need my closets to hold stuff other than boxes of slides and collectibles! But I do still have a few small boxes that are worthy of scanning.

P.I., if you ever have the chance to watch the documentary, Finding Vivian Maier (2013), you will be amazed. Her life was fascinating and odd and did not have a happy ending, sadly - something that happens with many artists. But seeing her work is such a revelation. As for any of the Kardashians, if I never hear another word about them I will be grateful! I don’t think I have a lot of other photos from rainy days or snowy days, though there are a few. One that is already scanned shows two men and a little boy smiling as they shovel the latest snowfall from the driveway.

Nanook said...

@ P.I.-
I'm not familiar with the Film Photography Project Podcast - although I can see how many of their podcasts would be of interest to me. Thanks.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Am a day late and a dollar short, to the party...but here goes, anyway...

I absolutely love these slides and your narrative, Major!

The walking family, with the accompanying Norman Rockwell painting, is priceless! Years ago, a family (mom, dad and two little girls) used to slowly walk around our neighborhood...with the little girls usually on tricycles or little bikes with training wheels. The dad always wore his pants pulled up very high and the mom was rather interesting, too. Though a sweet-looking family, they looked more like a Gary Larson cartoon, than a Norman Rockwell family. I forgot all about them, until I saw today's family picture. (I miss seeing them!)

Nanook, thanks for introducing me to Vivian Maier - what great pictures! I'll have to look up some of those others that you mentioned.

Major, that's awful about what happened to your grandma! Our house was burglarized, years ago, and that feeling of "invasion" on your life, sticks with you forever. It's especially bad when strangers take or ruin your "keepsakes." I sure hope they caught the person who did that to your grandma!

DKoren, are you new to GDB, or am I just getting old and forgot that you've been here before?? Either way, welcome - and glad to meet you!

Great commentary from all, today - thank you!


DKoren said...

Hi Sue - I've been following here for years now, it's my favorite daily stop, but admittedly, I only pipe up every now and then. You guys have such a great rapport here, I enjoy the comments as much as the original posts! My mom first went to Disneyland a week after it opened, and she still tells stories of the mine train, etc. I originally found this blog searching for pictures of early Disneyland to share with her and get more stories about what it was like. The Disneyland I remember best was in the 70s and 80s. Her favorite was the 20,000 Leagues walk-through, and that's still her favorite movie to this day. She said she'd go through the exhibit, then get back in line and go in again. And again. So, that's a little background on me! I'll try not to be so quiet in the future. :-)

"Lou and Sue" said...

DKoren, thanks for sharing more about yourself. Please do share more often - we would LOVE to hear more stories about your experiences AND your mom's, too!


JG said...

I love these photos and this thread, thanks Major!

We had a radio much like that, and many 78’s. All gone now.

Welcome DKoren, good to hear your thoughts, and “What Sue Said”.