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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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M.A. Leese: 1926

M.A. Leese: 1926

Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "M.A. Leese Optician, 9th Street store." Other businesses represented in this mold-spotted street view include a pool hall, Venice Italian American Restaurant, Pressler Bros. haberdashery and Barker "Original System" Bakery. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Old Man Barker

Probably wasn't at this bakery. The Barker Original System of Bakeries was a sort of franchise, where the manufacturer of the baking equipment would set up a new baker for an investment which naturally included buying their equipment.

Advertisement in the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, June 22, 1919:

Enough already!

I'll call Old Man Barker and ask him who was hanging out in front of his shop that day. Sheesh you guys!

Beating the dead hat

Dave said, "If it was the same guy, we'd be able to see through both of his images and not just one. The door behind Mr. Left would register at least as strongly (or faintly) as the body of Mr. Right."

The transparency of the man would be proportional to how long he was in each position. He was standing at the left for a longer time than he was standing on the right. That Mr. Left was in motion I don't think is in doubt; if you look at the close-ups below, you can clearly see the sidewalk through his legs and feet. His hat also has a clearly visible trail as he walks to the right. I think you can also see the line of the building through his right arm.

[By the same reasoning, the apparentness of the building is proportional to how long it's in each position. Thinking solely in terms of how transparent the man is is misleading; the important thing is the relative prominence of each element in each man-building pair. If it's the same guy, the building behind the man on the left would be at least as prominent as the man in front of the building on the right -- if he was standing to the right for 5 seconds, this means the wall behind the man on the left has been exposed to the camera for 5 seconds, plus the time it took him to get from A to B. However this is clearly not the case -- although it's obvious that Mr. Left has moved, the building behind him has been exposed to the camera for just a fraction of the time that Mr. Right has been standing in front of the window. To summarize: The relative prominence of the fainter element of each of the two man-building pairs should be the same if it's the same person. On the right there is very strong evidence of a man in front of the building; on the left, however, there's hardly any trace of the building behind the man. - Dave]

His Hat Brimmeth Over

It appears to be raining. The mystery man may have exited the building with hat brim turned up; "click" - first exposure; seen the rain; flattened his brim for maximum rain protection before stepping off; put his hands back in pocket; stepped off; "click" - exposure two. All the while quite unaware of his future stardom on Shorpy, and all the controversy he would cause!

Re: Checking to see if the coast is clear

@Quatermass -- You do see a smear... note on the right side of his hat, you see the motion blur, which is stronger while he's turning and starting (less motion) and fades out as he accelerates into his walk.

I see Dave is sticking to his story of the different hat, despite my carefully crafted evidence of everything else being the same (including 90% of the hat).

Kidding aside, I think the coat sleeves are the killer evidence. Besides the identical wrinkly nature, if you look at the right arm, there is an identical "puff" at the elbow.

Thinking about the hat one more time, maybe what I see that Dave doesn't see (or doesn't agree with) is that the top round part of the hat is over the ship on that white sign, obscuring it, making it look like a different hat. If you look carefully, you can see the ghost of the top of his hat where the color is slightly darkened over the sign. I see the same round top with dark band. See pic below, that I created from the original LOC image at max resolution.

[That's not Dave who was taking issue with the comment below. That was our new Comments Czar. As for whether it's one or two people, the hat is beside the point. If it was the same guy, we'd be able to see through both of his images and not just one. The door behind Mr. Left would register at least as strongly (or faintly) as the body of Mr. Right. - Dave]

Checking to see if the coast is clear

@ TimB: I'm pretty sure that's the same guy. It would have to be a double exposure though, or else we'd probably see a smear of him walking over there.

My idea was that he had to look around to make sure the wife wasn't watching, then quickly step over to the bakery to purchase a clandestine eclair.

[But first stepped down the street to buy a new hat.]

Okay, so maybe one of them bought the eclairs and the other is the lookout.

Come to think of it, that might be Herman and Clarence Woolard, of the famed Jelly Roll Gang, who terrorized bakeries up and down the Eastern Seaboard throughout the 1920s. Though history has tended to recall the fanciful exploits of gangsters like Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde, it's said the Woolard's made off with a lot more dough.

Vision Deterioration

The mold makes the three windows of Leese's building look like stages of some horrible degenerative eye disease.

The eyes have it

For those not sure what an optician does just take a look in the windows.

Antenna size

Maybe with just 15 watts 15 watts it took that much of an antenna to get them even at a short range (not certain how far apart this store and the transmitter site were then). The article notes the numerous changes in frequency that many stations went thru in the 1920s as broadcasting developed.


How did one reach the Italian restaurant, through the haberdasher's store or through the pool hall.

[Take a close look at the passageway next to the jewelry store.]

But isn't that the 'next' building over? They must be connected above the first floor. Thanks

Which Should I Bring

That "POOL" sign over the soon to die jewelry store makes me wonder whether I need my pool cue or my swim trunks.

A radio pioneer

M.A. Leese established one of Washington's early radio stations, WMAL, whose name incorporated his initials. Today at 630 on the dial, it is the home of right-wing talkers.

[Note the antenna on the roof. - Dave]

Very long exposure

The exposure on this one was so long that the man in the picture had time to turn back around, walk 3 or 4 paces, and then stop to look at the bakery window.

[Those are two people; different hats.]

Hmm. I'm willing to be convinced, but the two men have the same height, the same coat length, the same hands in pockets, the same ruffled sleeves, and the same shades of gray. I see a scarf around Man #1 and a dark spot on the back of the neck of Man #2. The hats are each light colored with a dark stripe. The shoes and pant legs are obscured in Man #2, but is still consistent.

The only inconsistent thing I can see about the hats is that the brim of Man #1 seems upturned and the brim on man #2 seems perhaps too wide and flat. But it could just be the angle and blur of the photo.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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