Gator Wrestling

Old photo, white border. Circa 1920s – 1930s.

Price:  $5.00           Size:  2 and 3/4 x 4 and 1/2″

The condition of this one is not great – with the crease on the bottom right and the image being pretty washed out, but it is one of a kind, and that’s always nice, since it was taken by an individual, rather than produced in numbers for the tourist trade. It shows a young man of the Seminole Nation, his legs on either side of a belly-up alligator, gator’s snout to young man’s chin; a line of spectators in the back; and another gator, under the palm tree. Enlarge the image (twice) for a better look.

See the links below for a few articles on the subject of alligator wrestling. And maybe you’ve had a similar experience so I’ll share something here:  Rarely have I felt so overwhelmed by a photo:

I’ve been wrestling (no pun intended) with finishing this post, having re-written it several times – and have come to the conclusion that this photo is “weighty” for me. For one thing, a doorway to history – flipping back thru time with the Seminole people – life before tourism, before the tragedy of the Glades being diminished, pride for the Seminoles to have never signed a “peace” treaty with the U.S. government…..And this photo’s era – Florida in the ’20’s and ’30’s being a particular draw for me – that déja vu feeling, with it’s invariable why?……And questions for the present and future, our planet and its welfare (anguish) gators and all, but also this particular gator and this particular wrestler – so, back to the moment when the photo was taken, and by the way, the feelings and impressions of those spectators…. Multiple pathways to travel down. Maybe I’ll be drawn back to it all later, when I’m older and hopefully, wiser.

Some related articles:

Fitzner, Zach. “Alligator wrestling in Florida may soon become a thing of the  past.” Earth.com, April 18, 2019. https://www.earth.com/news/alligator-wrestling-florida/ (accessed November 20, 2022).

Lipscomb, Jessica. “Study, Actually Alligator Wrestling Is Bad.” Miami New Times, November 24, 2020. https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/study-says-floridas-alligator-wrestling-attractions-are-harmful-11748501 (accessed November 20, 2022).

Oztaskin, Murat. “How Florida’s Seminole Tribe Transformed Alligator Wrestling Into A Symbol of Independence.” The New Yorker, January 27, 2021. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-documentary/how-floridas-seminole-tribe-transformed-alligator-wrestling-into-a-symbol-of-independence. (accessed November 20, 2022).

Novelties Manufacturer and Postcard Publisher, S. Langsdorf & Co.

Successful manufacturer of “fancy goods and novelties,” Sigmund Langsdorf, (1846 – 1926) proprietor of S. Langsdorf & Co. The above photo appears in Distinguished Jews of America. See the link for the one-page biography.

Below, the publisher logo for S. Langsdorf & Co., per the prior post for one of their cards.

Sigmund Langsdorf, son of Samuel and Johanna (Blumenthal) Langsdorf, was born July 21, 1846 in Battenfeld, Germany, and emigrated to the United States onboard the S.S. Hansa in the spring of 1862. He became a naturalized citizen in 1873, in New York. He married Fannie Lederer in Manhattan, January 27, 1875. City directories for 1875 – ’77 show that he was employed in the wholesale tobacco industry. The 1882 directory has him under the occupational tag of “frames” and the 1884 under “novelties.”

The 1900 Federal Census for Manhattan shows Sigmund, his wife Fanny, born August 1852 in New York, and Sigmund’s brother, Morris, born January 1860 in Germany. Address given as 1125 Madison Ave. Also in the household, Mary Dunn, age 25, born in Ireland. Both Sigmund and Morris’ occupation is listed as “fancy goods manufacturer.”

Below, a short post in the Help Wanted section of The Baltimore Sun, in May 1907:

The following is a portion of an ad run by Lloyd’s Bargain Store on State Street in Chicago – clipped from the Chicago Tribune, December 6, 1908.  Note that among the goods mentioned for sale in the list below are “Post Card Albums, alligatorette covered.”

According to author, Doug Alderson, in America’s Alligator:  A Popular History of Our Most Celebrated Reptile, S. Langsdorf & Co. published a total of 165 “alligator border” type postcards. Besides the alligator border cards, S. Langsdorf & Co. published many other postcards, including street scenes, prominent buildings, holiday cards, and a “State Girl” series.

Below, company letterhead from January 1910, showing their address as the corner of Spring and Crosby streets. By at least 1917 (according to the Distinguished Jews of America bio) the business had become one of the largest of its kind, with fifteen to twenty departments, and over 100,000 square footage:

Per a 1920 city directory:  S. Langsdorf & Co. (Sigmund and Morris Langsdorf) House of French Novelties, 72 – 78 Spring, 65 – 69 Crosby. Sigmund’s home address 325 W. End. Morris’ home address 210 Riverside Dr.

A 1925 directory shows Sigmund, president, Henry R. Langsdorf, vice-president, and Louis D. Calm, secretary-treasurer.

Sigmund passed away in Manhattan on December 20, 1926. His wife, Fannie had predeceased him in 1915.

Sources:  Distinguished Jews of America. Volume 1, Distinguished Jews of America Publishing Co. 1917. Google.com.books. 

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 651; Volume #: Roll 651 – 10 May 1904-17 May 1904.

Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1116; Page: 13; Enumeration District: 0792; FHL microfilm: 1241116. (Ancestry.com).

“Boxmakers Wanted.” The Baltimore Sun. May 12, 1907. Sunday, p. 3. (Newspapers.com).

“Samples of Holiday Toilet Sets.” Chicago Tribune. December 6, 1908. Sunday, p. 27. (Newspapers.com).

Alderson, Doug. America’s Alligator:  A Popular History of Our Most Celebrated Reptile. Rowman and Littlefield, 2020. (books.google.com).

Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

S. Langsdorf & Co., “S. Langsdorf & Co., letter,” Columbia University Libraries Online Exhibitions, accessed October 23, 2022, https://exhibitions.library.columbia.edu/exhibits/show/yardley/item/8677.

Triple Royal Palm, Ridgewood Avenue, Daytona FL

Divided back, unused, embossed postcard. Publisher:  S. Langsdorf & Co., New York. Made in Germany. Series 618. Circa 1908 – 1914.

Price:  $35.00

This is what’s called an “alligator border” postcard. They were very collectible at the time and are pretty highly valued today. You can find them selling for around 30.00 or 40.00 dollars to in the hundreds, depending on content and rarity….And, imagine this particular card having been placed in an album after it was first purchased, because if you look closely (enlarge the image twice) you’ll notice the slightly darker coloration on each corner (so that when it was displayed in the album you were not seeing the corners). I like this kind of “physical proof” – it seems to add another layer or dimension to the card.

When looking for publisher S. Langsdorf, we found mention of him and (bonus!) the alligator border phenom in this Google book search:  America’s Alligator:  A Popular History of Our Most Celebrated Reptile, by Doug Alderson. You can also take a “Look Inside” for part of the book on Amazon.com right now. See the upcoming post for more on S. Langsdorf.

The “Triple” in Royal Palm is, I think, a description of a Royal Palm that has three trunks, or maybe multiple trunks, as in the most predominant palm appearing in our postcard above.

Sources:  Alderson, Doug. America’s Alligator:  A Popular History of Our Most Celebrated Reptile. Rowman and Littlefield, 2020. (books.google.com).

Royal Palm Tree. https://www.allaboutpalmtrees.com/royal-palm-tree (accessed October 22, 2022).

Gator Couple

Divided Back, artist-signed, used postcard. Postmarked August 21, 1917, Brimfield, Illinois. Postcard artist:  Hans Horina.

Price:  $15.00

A gator (the “husband” we presume) standing in a river or pond, calls out,“Oh, I don’t know!” to his wife, who is walking off, holding a small parasol. This card was part of a series of comic gator cards that told a story, so the caption would have made sense when seeing the full set.

We found a short description for the German postcard artist, Hans Horina (1865 – 1918) from the wonderful site, Lambiek – Comix Strips (lambiek.net) under the Comiclopedia section. (Check it out if you have time.)

Addressed to:   “Mrs. Ida Ost, 609 Abington Str., Peoria, Illinois.”

The sender wrote:   “From the bunch. Brimfield, Ill. Aug. 21st, 1917. Dear Peorians, We missed the mail yesterday after-noon so if your card didn’t go on through you wouldn’t get it to-day but hope you did. It is a rainy day here. Toodles is playing and has got Teddy in that little wagon now. Harland is going up town now and will mail this card. Oscar says to tell you that he got that piece of pie alright so he didn’t lose out after all. Does this look like the aligator in Central Park [grand-pa] ha ha ha. Oscar says for you Edie to meet him at the depot Wednesday night. Good-bye. Write soon.”

The above message was written by Clara (Wizeman) Pemble, wife of Harland Pemble. Clara, born in Illinois about 1886, was the daughter of William Wizeman and Louisa Mohler. Harland, born in Illinois about 1882, was the son of James H. Pemble and Mary Cavender. “Toodles” is probably Harland and Clara’s daughter Ida, who in 1917, when this card was sent, would have been about four or five.

Ida Ost, the addressee, is Clara’s sister. Ida was born in Illinois about 1875. She is listed as widowed on the 1900 Federal Census.

Sources:  “Hans Horina.” (https://www.lambiek.net/artists/h/horina_hans.htm). Accessed October 17, 2023.

Peoria County Courthouse; Peoria, IL, USA; Peoria County Marriages, 1825-1915; Collection Title: Peoria County Marriages, 1825-1915. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1920; Census Place: Brimfield, Peoria, Illinois; Roll: T625_398; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 47. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1900; Census Place: Peoria Ward 3, Peoria, Illinois; Roll: 334; Page: 1; Enumeration District: 0097; FHL microfilm: 1240334. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1860; Census Place: Elmwood, Peoria, Illinois; Roll: M653_217; Page: 554; Family History Library Film: 803217.  (Ancestry.com).

Mr. and Mrs. Biggs’ 60th Anniversary

Old photo, white border. Circa 1910s – 1920s.

Price:  $5.00            Size:  3 x 5″

“Mr. and Mrs. Biggs already to take a ride on their 60th Wedding Anniversary.”

The condition is poor, as you can plainly see, but what a great photo – an adventurous couple, in probably their late 70’s or early 80’s, ready to mark the occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary with a ride in a biplane.

Mrs. Levi Joshua Cheney, Dyesville, Ohio

Divided Back, Real Photo Postcard, unused. AZO stamp box. Circa 1907 – 1918.

Price:  $15.00

This is Charity (Chase) Cheney, born June 1868 in Ohio. The date estimate for the postcard is due to its being a Divided Back card and having an AZO stamp box, all four triangles pointing upward. This would make Charity around age 39 – 50 when the photo was taken, and it may have been a special occasion for her, per the flower corsage she’s wearing. This shot has captured some years of hardship, worry and grief in her expression. (It’s not an easy life we came here to live, is it?) But she’s still lovely in the long white dress (love the double row of buttons) and with the small puffed shoulders and her jewelry – the heart, the short necklace, and the other accessories – wide black belt, oblong box-style purse (I’m picturing alligator), and possibly a flower in her hair. It’s hard to tell on that one, even when darkening the image in Photoshop, it’s not definite.

Thank you to the person that identified person with place on the back. We appreciate them whoever they were. Dyesville is located in Columbia Township, Meigs County, Ohio.

Sources:  Year: 1880; Census Place: Columbia, Meigs, Ohio; Roll: 1047; Page: 36D; Enumeration District: 104. (Ancestry.com).

Lewis and Boyd and the Ford Coupe, Havre MT

Old photo, white border. Velox print. Fritz Studio, Havre, Montana. June 9, 1927.

Price:  $6.00

“Lewis & Boyd & the Ford Coupe he had two yrs. ago.”

No luck in determining Boyd’s surname and too many possibilities for Lewis. Still, a cool picture. And we’re presuming that is Boyd on our left (arm on window, foot on running board – that’s an ownership pose if ever we saw one, and is that a camera in his left hand?). Love Lewis’ position at this moment in time, too – the wide stance, hands in overalls, hat pushed back. All in all, a nice 1920’s-era shot of two guys and a car.

The Fritz Studio:  This was Frank Fritz (haha, no not Frankie from t.v.) and his studio in Havre was located at 217 3rd Avenue.

Frank was born in June 11, 1878 in St. Cloud, Minnesota, son of Andrew Fritz and Mary (Braun) Fritz. Though on his WWI Draft Registration Card he stated 1880 for year of birth, the 1880 Federal Census shows he was already two years old at that time and a short bio (to that point) for him appears in the History of Stearns County, Minnesota (1915) that also indicates 1878:

“Frank Fritz, St. Cloud photographer, was born in the city where he still resides, June 11, 1878, son of Andrew and Mary (Braun) Fritz. He attended school in St. Cloud, and afterward taught for awhile. For a time he was in partnership with his brother, John J., in the photograph business. For some years he has conducted a studio of his own and does some excellent work. He is a member of the Elks, the Knights of Columbus, and the Eagles.”

For more on the Fritz Family see the link above.

Later in 1915, Frank sold his studio in St. Cloud to Louis W. Olsen.

We couldn’t find city directories online to narrow down a date, but Fritz must have relocated to Havre in the latter part of 1915 or early 1916. The article below from The Havre Daily News in 1926, indicates he’d been in a particular location in that city since 1918:

On September 28, 1923, Frank married Maude H. Phifer, in Billings, Montana. He passed away in 1932.

Sources:  R. L. Polk & Co.’s Havre City Directory, 1929-’30. p. 55. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

Year: 1880; Census Place: Saint Cloud, Stearns, Minnesota; Roll: 634; Page: 441D; Enumeration District: 113 (Ancestry.com).

Mitchell, William Bell. History of Stearns County, Minnesota, 1915. Volume 1, pp. 697 – 698. (books.google.com).

Bulletin of Photography. P. 154. Publisher Frank V. Chambers, Philadelphia PA. Vol. 17. July 7 – December 29, 1915. (books.google.com).

Montana State Historical Society; Helena, Montana; Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950. (Ancestry.com).

“Fritz Studio And Electric Shop Move Into New Building, Formal Openings Scheduled For Monday.”  The Havre Daily News, October 3, 1926. Sunday, p. 1. (Newspapers.com).

Find a Grave. Find a Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi.

A Simoan Tribute

Vintage photo, white border, circa mid 1930s – mid-1950s.

Price:  $12.00            Size:  3 and 11/16 x 2 and 1/2″

The car…..

We look to the car in this photo for a jumping off point for approximate date. I was struck by the unusual-looking hubcaps and asked the hubby who stated the hubcap is the round center part, the rest is rim, maybe a 3-piece rim and they look painted, and it’s probably a Ford…..I was then checking Ford convertibles with rumble seats (you see it sticking up in the back minus the padding) but getting frustrated for pinpointing the year. No prob though, whenever I get stuck I go to the Antique Automobile Club of America forum readers for help. (Great people, lightning-quick, detailed responses, awesome!) And yes, it’s a Ford, likely with painted rims. Here is one of the responses below:

“Definitely a Model A Ford roadster – you can see the corner of the windshield behind the guy’s left shoulder.  The shape of the fenders and the bead on the hood above the louvers makes it a 1930 or 31.  However, the headlights might be 28 – 29 as they look a little pointy on the back.  30 – 31 are rounded.  It might be a DeLuxe as rumble seat was standard on those, although it was optional on Standards.  The back cushion is easily removed and yes, it’s missing.  The artillery wheels are similar to 36 – 39 Ford but I think they’re aftermarket.  They probably are composed of separate parts but welded and/or riveted into one piece (not counting the removable hubcap).  Yes, they probably were painted and the contrasting painted trim on the spokes was common on those style wheels.”

Gannon……

The dark-haired young man, about age 25 we’ll guess, is wearing a grass skirt (!) and posing for the camera. At first glance it kind of looks like the entire “Samoa” banner is part of his outfit and he unfolded it like a cape (or unfurled his “wings”  – gotta give credit to a different forum commenter for the wings idea – love it! Credit also due to another person for wondering if, what I’m calling a banner, could be part of a “traditional ceremonial dance costume”. Good thought.) But anyway, I think the banner was attached at each end to the car…..Presumably, either the guy’s given or surname is Gannon, since this is written on the back. (Yes, Gannon does show up in some records as a first name.) And there’s too many possibilities to try to pinpoint Gannon, or at least not without days of research, but maybe he was born around 1925, entered the Navy and traveled the Pacific, stopping in Samoa. (Just a theory.) And, though this photo could be from maybe the mid-’30s, due to its aftermarket parts, my first thought is that it was mid-’40’s to mid-’50’s for when this snap was taken.

Lastly, and if you’ve stuck with me for this long 😉 ……

In the background we see a couple of small boats perched on land, a telephone pole, a wooden fence, and on our left, maybe a couple of other boats further in the distance. We note that car and man are on a cobblestone surface. Last but not least, we see the two other people “appearing” in this shot – one was the person taking the picture. They were there, but we only see their shadows. (I love this type of thing – the contribution to the image via the shadows.)

Source:  “Help to i.d. a convertible with rumble seat.” Posted in “What is it?” Response by CHuDWah posted October 7, 2023. forums.aaca.org.

Hotel Turpin Autobus, San Francisco

Divided Back, used postcard. Postmarked July 23, 1916 from San Francisco, California. Stamp removed. Publisher:  Edward H. Mitchell. 

Price:  $12.00

Auto Bus meets trains and Steamers. Hotel Turpin Auto Bus. 17 Powell St. at Market, San Francisco, Cal. F. L. Turpin. A. W. Turpin.

This postcard was likely produced from a newspaper or magazine photo. Interesting that there are no women in this picture. Wonder what type of event it might have been? You have your businessmen on the left and some of the staff next to them; all the passengers and the driver of the bus are men, and then there’s the guy standing behind the bus. Note the suitcases on the running board. There’s a Touring Club of America sign on the hotel awning. And apparently there was a pool. The business next door was Kingsbury & Unger, (G. Kingsbury and F. Unger) a liquor store at 21 Powell St.

Addressed to:   “Mrs. Bell Brown, 1415 26th st, Bakersfield, Calif.”

The sender, Bell’s sibling, wrote:

“San Francisco, Calif. July 23rd – 1916. Dear Sister. I were in Stockton Friday. The land lady said she sent mail to the place I wrote to you from so I am going there tonight & will write from there.   M – “

Curiously, nothing definitive comes up in records when trying to find Bell (Belle). Nothing under Brown at this address in city directories. Maybe they were only there temporarily.

From the 1920 Federal Census for San Francisco, Edward H. Mitchell, postcard publisher, was born about 1869 in California, married to Idelle and they have three daughters, Gertrude, Bernice and Marion.

Sources:  H. S. Crocker Co.’s, San Francisco Directory, 1912, p. 963. Google book search.

Year: 1920; Census Place: San Francisco Assembly District 28, San Francisco, California; Roll: T625_140; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 278. (Ancestry.com).

Miss Ada Clarice Atkins

Old photo. Root Photography Studio, Chicago, Illinois. Circa 1907 – 1915.

Price:  $30.00              Size:  4 and 9/16 x 6 and 3/8″

A portrait in profile of a beautiful young woman. Note the intricate hairstyle, the lace dress with small decorative bows and the pearl-like choker necklace. Estimating that she was around age 19 to 27 in this photo.

On the reverse, a will of sorts……

“Ada Clarice Atkins born Kansas City, Missouri [photo by Root, Chicago]. Henry J. Atkins wills to the above named daughter all real estate free from any indeptedness. And personal property; of every description in his posession, with no incumbrance:  free from any claim, all real estate is held in joint tenacy or arranged for same. As also joint savings account in bank.   H. J. Atkins, Jan 23rd 1943. 1253 West 37th drive, Los Angeles, Califa.”

Would the above have held up in court since there is no witness signature? I’m not sure what the law in California was in 1943. And it’s unusual to find this type of paragraph on the back of a photo. Interestingly, (and thankfully) Henry J. Atkins lived well past 1943, passing away in 1959, at the age of 94.

Ada was born in November of 1888, the daughter of Henry Atkins and Louise M. Bleitz. (Date of birth is from Find A Grave, though the place of birth listed there for Ada is Illinois, which has to be is incorrect, since all of Ada’s census records indicate Missouri, and of course, the info on the back of the photo, written by her father, states Kansas City, Missouri.) Ada never married and lived at the family home of her parents. She was an accomplished vocalist as evidenced in the following article appearing in the Los Angeles Evening Express:

The difference between a coloratura and a soprano, from the Study.com website, is as follows:

“A soprano is a singer with a high vocal range, but does not necessarily possess the ability to sing fast notes and passages with agility and ease. A coloratura soprano is a specific type of voice that contains the skills and virtuosity to sing difficult, rapid runs, trills, and arpeggios with great vocal dexterity.”

Root photographers or Root Studio – The photographer may have been William J. Root, who was prominent in Chicago. See pages 693-4 on W. J. Root appearing in an 1894 publication about Industrial Chicago.

Sources:  Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10849154/ada-clarisse-atkins: accessed 03 October 2022), memorial page for Ada Clarisse Atkins (9 Nov 1888–7 May 1974), Find a Grave Memorial ID 10849154, citing Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA; Maintained by GerbLady (contributor 46637511) .

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10849191/louise-m-atkins: accessed 03 October 2022), memorial page for Louise M. Bleitz Atkins (5 Mar 1865–23 Jan 1943), Find a Grave Memorial ID 10849191, citing Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California, USA; Maintained by GerbLady (contributor 46637511).

“Caruso Airs at Lincoln Park.”  Los Angeles Evening Express. August 6, 1921. Saturday, p. 2. (Newspapers.com).

Klein, Julianne. “Coloratura Soprano.” April 13, 2022. https://study.com/learn/lesson/coloratura-soprano-arias-technique.html (accessed October 3, 2022).

Industrial Chicago, Vol. 5. The Commercial Interests. (1894) “W. J. Root.” Chicago:  The Goodspeed Publishing Co. (Google Book search).