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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

 
 
 
NEW FROM THE VINTAGRAPH VAULTS • TOGETHER WE CAN DO IT, WWII

Chuck Burgers: 1966

Chuck Burgers: 1966

The corner of Grant and Bush in San Francisco in 1966. I took this Kodachrome to show Big Ben's, my favorite place for hamburgers while I was in the Navy, stationed on Treasure Island. View full size.

Grant and California: 1968

Grant and California: 1968

August 1968. My mom in San Francisco's Chinatown at Grant and California Streets; Kodachrome slide by my dad. View full size.

Marie, Rocker, Issar, Cigar: 1921

Marie, Rocker, Issar, Cigar: 1921

This photo shows my mother’s parents (Marie was last seen here) two years before they were wed if the date hand-written on the picture margin is correct. In 1921 both would have been approximately age 30. He was born in Bialystok (which is now part of Poland) in 1891, supposedly under the name of Issar Derrish which became Americanized to Isadore Weinstein, probably at the behest of his older brother Benny who invited the teenage Issar to join him in New York City around 1905. They subsequently formed Weinstein Brothers Cloak and Suits, with “Izzy” as the craftsman and Benny as the salesman. When Benny suddenly died in the 1930s that company fell apart.

My guess is that this picture is at some vacation resort hotel, possibly in the Catskills. Beyond that, I have no clue. I would not consider sitting in a rocking chair and reading while a guy smoking a cigar was sitting on that chair’s arm with cigar smoke inches from my face to be a wonderful dating activity. I know for a fact that they married in 1923. That makes me question if this is a honeymoon photo, and not a dating photo. View full size.

Issar and Marie: 1951

Issar and Marie: 1951

These are my mother’s parents Issar and Marie, thirty years after the cigar and rocker photo, visiting the New Brunswick, New Jersey garden apartment where my own, then newly-wed, future parents lived from late 1951 until 1953. (A photo of my parents taken on this same day is here). They had both come from eastern Europe, he around 1905 and she around 1913, and met while working in the garment trade of New York City. They married in 1923. I never met him; he died the year before I was born. She seems to stand so tall and proud in her fur collar coat. The woman I met could not stand straight due to severe osteoporosis, which gave her a hunched back. Photo was probably taken by my mother. Scan was made from a print. View full size.

Diesel Damsels: 1955

Diesel Damsels: 1955

Caterpillar and butterflies on parade circa 1955 courtesy of the Fabick Tractor Co., in this Kodachrome slide found at a local flea market. View full size.

Naptime for Daddy: 1957

Naptime for Daddy: 1957

Another thing every suburban mid-century modern house had was a console television set. Specifically, it is a 1951 RCA Kendall 17T174 model 17 inch black and white TV in a blonde wood cabinet with doors that closed to make it look “pretty” like a piece of furniture. (Don’t ask me to explain why people in the fifties thought this way. It isn’t as if they were going to fool anyone that it was not a television set.)

I am sitting on a Paul McCobb “Captains Chair,” though I also can’t explain why I have it caught in the living room curtain. I further don’t know why my father is napping on the living room floor. He clearly knew that was what he was going to do because he brought a pillow to the floor with him. It isn’t like we didn’t have a couch in that room. I also do not know what was in my three-year-old brain to cause me to sit there so still and seriously. All of which (the husband and child, not the TV) may be what caused my mother to take this picture. Scan was made from a negative. View full size.

On the Wagon: 1958

On the Wagon: 1958

Another scene of the now-five-year-old homes in the Dogwood section of Levittown, Pennsylvania. The view here is looking southeast from 110 Dogwood Drive. The trees are starting to look at least like bushes instead of sticks, though few of the homes (none in this frame) have been customized beyond what they looked like when they were built. Add three children playing with a wagon for a scene that looks straight out of a Dick and Jane reader.

Of course the illusion of idyllic bliss in mid-century suburbia is pure fiction. A lot was happening a few blocks over on Deepgreen Lane that wasn’t very nice at all. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Levitt would only sell homes to Caucasians, but he had no control over who those original owners sold their homes to; one owner on Deepgreen sold their home to a very nice family (their son was in my nursery school carpool, so I actually knew them and played with him) who was not white. View full size.

 
SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE
Shorpy.com | 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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