Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.
Vintage photos of:
July 1964. My mother is a blur of activity in this available light Kodachrome; judging from the grates piled up on the right front burner, she's cleaning the O'Keefe & Merritt's chrome top. View full size.
Firemen and volunteers cling to the back of the Larkspur Fire Department's 1946 American-LaFrance engine as it roars down Magnolia Ave. on the way to a call one late afternoon in 1963. These days we're used to seeing firemen suited up like they were about to take a moon walk; check out the casual attire here. Only one guy even has his fireman's hat on; two of the volunteers are sporting baseball caps. Everybody else is in shirtsleeves, even the full-time guy at the wheel (although it's his official blue uniform shirt). That's our house at the very top of the frame.
The fire department had been a governmental entity only 6 years. Up until 1957, it was privately operated by the volunteers, completely funded by dances held at The Rose Bowl, an outdoor dance floor under the redwoods that featured name bands and drew crowds from all over the Bay Area each Saturday during the summer months. My Kodachrome slide.
If a single photo could capture 1970s Northern California culture, this might be it. The hair; the clothes; the round oak table; the funky old apartment with painted-over wainscoting; the giant bowl of sangria. I ought to know, I was there. In fact, there I am, at the left, at my brother's Santa Cruz place with his wife (lower left) and their friends in October 1973. My brother's Ektachrome slide. View full size.
Here we have #8, the Red Racer. This is in Louisville about 1963 or so. At some point after this was taken, my dad and I went flying down the driveway of our apartment building. However, we neglected to notice the freshly paved asphalt until it was too late, and we trashed Red Racer and ourselves in the process! I recall my grandfather "J" drilled a hole in the back so he could push Red Racer with a stick. My last name's hand-painted on the side just like the Indy drivers! I think there were wooden blocks attached to the pedals so I could reach 'em, too.
The Jockeys are looking at President and Mrs. Eisenhower during their visit to Belmont Park. View full size.
More classic cars in their natural habitat. The AC building at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo campus, June 1957. Highlights: choice 1956 Mercury convertible; nice shine on the 1955 Ford Customline V8 two-tone. Somebody please identify the nicely-preserved black sedan in front of the Merc. Bonus: 1950s college professor in characteristic native garb. Ektachrome slide shot by my brother. View full size.
Not as many this time, but a couple of obsolete models, such as the first design of a Kaiser or Frazer, and an early Nash Rambler. Also a good representation of vintage Cal Poly color scheme. Same period, around 1956, this time on Anscochrome. View full size.