Often, when meandering amongst the typical offerings found in local antique shops, I find myself drawn to those large buckets and drawers filled with scores of photos from bygone eras. There I find forgotten images...Victorian children staring frightfully into the camera lens, National Park vacation photos that prove nature doesn't really change over a 100 years, and the occasional family image that proves people haven't changed much either.
Years ago, I found this image for 10 cents. I loved it, drinking in every detail from the kids outfits to trying to figure out what game they might have been playing when some annoying adult burst in with their camera:
"The photo that started my collection - Our Gang"
That photo started me on the path to owning hundreds of vintage images, with no particular reasoning behind what makes me purchase one. Here's a cabinet card photo I found for 25 cents:
"Little Boy Blue By the Lake"
And this next (actually tiny) photo was found in a book I purchased, so I consider it free. What a stark image! It speaks volumes (to me at least) of the depression, farming and willpower. And teenage angst. You know this kid wanted off the farm. This photo leans up against the spine of my volume of Grapes of Wrath:
"Depression Era Thinker"
Until I turned it over and saw this sad little note on the back of the photo:
I can't understand how people can just toss photos like these out of their homes! Even if you don't know who the hell this relative might be, how can you give up images like this?
"Little Valentine, with and without hat"
"Aunt Gonna Kick your Ass and Uncle Meek"
I love to see photos like these, of farmsteads. Most of time, the images are 8x10 or larger, and have been framed - does anyone photograph their property like this anymore? (other than to list it for sale?)
"Farm For Sale, grass included"
"Horse and Carriage"
I love the pose in this next image...very stern and correct. If they had digital cameras back then, you can bet these three would have included other poses.
"Hands on Hips Everyone - ALVIN! I said Hands on Hips!"
This next image is cute and refers to "The Kid, with her Liberty Bonds button" at the bottom. I bring these images out around the Fourth of July, to liven up the bookshelf:
"The Kid, Being all Patriotic"
"Mother please! The neighbors are staring!"
I love a great baby photo and happily plunk down quarters for swell images such as this baby, who probably kicked a lot of ass in the playpen:
"Mama's little angel Butch stares down the photographer"
"Butch wants to know what the hell you are looking at"
"Mama and Baby, Chillaxin"
There are a lot of portraits like the following one in antique stores. Many are just there, sitting and staring at you. This one made me stare back. Think it's the hat?
"The new hat"
I love finding vacation photos - Makes me want to find this rock and pose in front of it and then set it next to this one on the shelf. Just because.
"Edna, are you sitting crooked on that horse?"
This next one is a wonderful image I found at the bottom of a pile of magazines. This would serve well as something transferred to canvas, and hung on the wall -it's very calming.
This next snapshot is pretty small, but well worth the dime:
"Please don't throw me in the river Sam"
The following image sits on a shelf in my kitchen. I love this image, from the wine flasks, the coats all flung into a tree, and that drunk guy in the front who couldn't sit the hell still for the shot.
"Percible and The Rest of the Company"
"Mom and Dad Defy Gravity, just for kicks"
I bought this next one for two reasons - it looks like a street in SF and THE BOY IS HOLDING A DEAD DEER HEAD. On a tractor chair. On a sidewalk in San Francisco.
"How city kids get close to nature"
Finally, I have here an example of why taking your time and looking at every damn snapshot in that drawer is worth the effort. Here is what I like to call:
"Jesus, the Awkward Years"
Apparently, Jesus hung out with a bunch of smart asses in high school. Here's his buddy Matthew, or maybe Judas, taking a popsicle break between sermons.
"Judas and the Popsicle"