Pictures from the Past

Oct 22, 2012 | 0 comments

Several months ago – April, I think – Doug Allen sent me a marvelous photograph of a young couple with a baby.  He asked if I could identify them or could post the photo on my blog in hopes that someone else would recognize them.

For whatever reason, I just ran across that email with its attached photo.  It had never been opened, nor had about a dozen other emails from that period of time.  I’m not sure why.  Were we out of town?  Was I on some sort of correspondence strike?  Or did those emails just suddenly arrive after an outing in cyberspace?  Hard to tell with email.

Doug Allen is a local author/historian who now lives in the Seattle area.  For several years he has been working on a history of Jack’s Country Store.  It is one of those projects that has morphed into something far larger than originally anticipated.  I think Doug now considers it a history of the Peninsula’s north end. I am greatly looking forward to its publication.

As I understand it, the book will include several hundred photographs, many of which have not been previously published.  That’s the part of the book that I’m most looking forward to.  The text, of course, will also be illuminating, but it’s always the photographs that give me a real sense of what life was like ‘way back then.’

Along those lines, I was interested in learning about Matt Winters’ project to do a book of old postcards.  Those picture postcards that were so popular during the early part of the twentieth century give a fabulous visual record of life in those days.  I wrote about the postcard phenomena in Dear Medora:

Among postcard collectors, the years 1907-1915 are known as “The Golden Age” of postcards and it was during this period that collecting became a public addiction.  The official figures from the U.S. Post Office for their fiscal year ending June 30, 1908, cite 677,777,798 postcards mailed.  At that time the total population of the United States was only 88,700,000!  Mama and Medora did their share of postcard sending.

          The H.A. Espy family sent postcards to save stamp money, to save time, and to drop a line when there was really nothing much to write about.  They sent postal greetings to friends and family at the various holidays, especially Christmas, and sent souvenir postals when they were away on a trip.  And, during those years that the children were young (and money was often scarce) Mama and Medora sent photographic postals as presents.  These became all the rage in 1906 when Eastman Kodak began selling an “affordable” camera called the “Folding Pocket Camera” with which the public was able to take black and white photographs and have them printed right onto postcard backs.  That time period is known as the “Real Photo Postcard Era.”  Apparently the H.A. Espy family did not find these new cameras within their budget, but Mama saw to it that family members periodically went to a photographer’s studio to have their photos professionally taken and made into postals.

I wonder if future authors will be gathering photographs from Facebook and other internet sources…


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