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).

Young Man On Wicker Bench

Divided Back, Real Photo Postcard. AZO stamp box. Circa 1910 – 1930.

Price:  $5.00

A young guy (now, to me he looks Irish, but that could just be that he reminds me of someone I knew who was Irish-American) in suit, tie, hat and high-top boots, seated in a wicker photographer’s chair – a bench, sort of, no back to the chair most likely. The rug beneath him has a nice diamond pattern. And is that a photographer’s painted backdrop? You be the judge. We’re so used to seeing these that it was the assumption, at first. Yes….no…..well, maybe yes, but a very nicely done one.

And this post has a rather generic name because I started to see what impression I got for “mood” and couldn’t pick just one. Like always, when you look at a photo of someone up close, you’re looking at their eyes and the set of their mouth, and then you end up getting many impressions. Maybe in layers – and this is, well, of course, because nobody’s just three-dimensional – even though we’re seeing in 3D, we’re sensing more. Then too, our impression of someone can easily change depending on our own mood. (I’m just using “mood” here as a quickie term,  but of course, it’s more complex than that.) It’s a pretty fascinating thing to really look at photos of people. Same for landscapes or whatever. (Surely the impressions of the photographer when he or she took the photo, play in there somewhere, for how we view it.)

Vintage Tourist Attaction, Silver Dollar Saloon

Old photo, deckled edge, white border. Circa 1930 – 1940s. Left corner and partial side missing. 

Price:  $2.00        Size:  About 5 and 7/8 x 3 and 1/2″

This looks like it’s from one of those reenactment of the Old West type spots, or if not then just some other type of Western tourist attraction. (The backwards “N” in Saloon is a dead giveaway, right?) A few other similar views are showing up on eBay right now, but they have no i.d. for place either, though one has a date of 1959. Still, it’s a fun picture – there’s a lovely lady there, laughing and leaning on the hitching rail. (“Okay, pretend like you’ve had one too many. 😉 ) And, I like the old wooden….is that a U.S. Mail box? But hopefully one of our readers will know where this was taken!

Hats Galore

Old photo, circa 1900s – 1910s.

Price:  $5.00          Size:  4 x 2 and 3/8″

Just an old snapshot that has been around for over a hundred years – it had lived most of its life in one of those old photo albums with the black pages, before being picked up at a paper fair. No writing on the back at all, and it’s blurry (but imagine you are bringing the scene into focus!) And what a great time these eight ladies are having….all in some of the most wonderful hats, no two are alike. And we get a sense that the woman in the dark satin blouse was the focal point of this photo – it was some type of special occasion for her.

Postcard To Mabel L. Schultz, Halsey, Oregon

Divided Back, Real Photo Postcard. Postmarked June 9, 1910 from Portland, Oregon. 

Price:  $15.00

The image on this postcard is of Tressa or Tessa, surname unknown. She writes:

“Wish you were here this week enjoying the Rose carnival. Dude is here and she is to be with me tonight. Edna C. is staying with Oda this week but she will visit me next week. Met her intended yesterday. Suppose you are sorry that school is out? I haven’t heard from Neta in a long time, jog up her memory a little. Write soon and tell me if you are coming down. Much love to you from Tressa.”

“My dear Mibs:- Just recv’d your card so will answer right away. I am sorry I haven’t written before. The schools here close the 22nd. Are you coming down then? I hope you are and you know you must stay longer this time than you did before.”

Addressed to:   “Miss Mabel L. Schultz. Halsey, Oregon.”

Such a charming photo from the sender, she in her wide-brimmed hat, trimmed, in part, with ostrich feathers. (The details of the whole ensemble stand out pretty well for such a small photo.) But, we can’t be sure whether her given name is Tressa or Tessa and we’ll have to skip a long, drawn-out search for her, too many possibilities, even factoring in  trying to tie in the names she mentions in the note to Mibs. (Though some time was spent – as the mystery always beckons.)

As for Miss Mabel L. “Mibs” Schultz:  She is likely the person appearing on the 1910 Federal Census, in Albany, Oregon (about 26 miles north of Halsey) born about 1887 in Nebraska, daughter of Herman and Belle Schultz (spelled Shultz). Mabel’s occupation in 1910 is schoolteacher at a public school, and that definitely fits with the references in Tressa’s note.

Source:  Year: 1910; Census Place: Albany Ward 1, Linn, Oregon; Roll: T624_1283; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0198; FHL microfilm: 1375296. (Ancestry.com).

A Detroiter, Circa 1910s by Photographer Charles J. Merz

Real Photo Postcard, circa 1907 – 1918. Detroit, Michigan. AZO Stamp Box.

Price:  $10.00

We’re taking liberties with the title of this post by presuming that the subject above lived in Detroit. In any case, he’s a handsome guy, here in dark suit, light-colored tie and pocket handkerchief, and a detachable collar. He’s seated in a carved wooden chair, which most likely, belonged to the photographer. And we wonder if this chair could have folded – is that a seam we’re seeing on our right above the armrest, or is it just part of the carving?

The time-frame for the card is based on the AZO stamp box, all four triangles pointing up, and the fact that it is a Divided Back card.

As for the photographer:  Charles John Merz, son of Christian Merz and Elizabeth Trost, was born September 14, 1872, in Michigan. Both parents were born in Germany. He married Buffalo, New York native,Tillie Bischy on June 5, 1901. Their daughter, Olive, was born about 1905. And, it turns out that Merz was in the photography business for decades, which is unusual for the time, given that most photographers (and there was so many that went into the trade) had either a rather short-lived career, or had moved on to other occupations by the 1920s. (It would be interesting to see statistics on this subject.)

Charles appears to have gotten started in the photography business around age 20, or a little earlier. The 1893 city directory shows he was working for, or with, photographer, Herman Baron, at 49 Monroe Ave in Detroit. By 1896 he is with the C. M. Hayes & Co. studio, and listed as a printer. The most recent city directory with the Michigan Avenue business address was found for 1919. On the 1920, ’30 and ’40 census records he is listed as a commercial photographer. By 1930 he, Tillie and Olive, are living in Livonia.

In searching for other photographs or cards several can be currently found for sale online. But, the Clements Library at the University of Michigan holds an old album containing photos from 1888 to about 1910, about 147 total, including a self-portrait. These images are not online but see the link below for more info.

Sources: “Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes A-B.” (Playle.com). https://www.playle.com/realphoto/photoa.php. (accessed May 24, 2022).

Year: 1880; Census Place: Frenchtown, Monroe, Michigan; Roll: 595; Page: 399B; Enumeration District: 178. (Ancestry.com).

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1893. pp. 232 and 847. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1895. p. 961. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Detroit Ward 10, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: 751; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0109; FHL microfilm: 1240751. (Ancestry.com).

Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 73; Film Description: 1901 Tuscola-1902 Branch. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1910; Census Place: Detroit Ward 14, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T624_686; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 0217; FHL microfilm: 1374699. (Ancestry.com).

Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1919. p. 2840. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

Year: 1920; Census Place: Detroit Ward 15, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_814; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 457. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1930; Census Place: Livonia, Wayne, Michigan; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 1015; FHL microfilm: 2340810. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1940; Census Place: Livonia, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: m-t0627-01833; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 82-177A. (Ancestry.com).

“Charles J. Merz Photograph Album (1888 – ca. 1910).”  Charles J. Merz photograph album, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan. (accessed May 24, 2022).

Smiling Young Man in Shaped Border RPPC

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard, unused. Circa 1920s. AZO stamp box.

Price:  $7.00

A happy guy, great pose for the camera, wearing a large-check patterned suitcoat, pencils in the pocket (maybe he was an accountant, an architect, an artist….), tie, hat pushed back, and glancing up and left. He chose a nice, diamond-shaped border to frame the image, it might remind you of a Native American (i.e. design on a Navajo blanket). See our category “Shaped Borders” from the Home page for more.

Two Swedish Women

Divided Back, Real Photo Postcard, circa 1907 – 1910. Photographer:  Fred A. Grinolds. CYKO stamp box.

Price:  $15.00

“These two girls came 3 miles last Sunday to have me take their picture they are both Swedes and are engaged to be married soon they cant talk very good English yet write me if you are coming to Cal”

I think these ladies may be sisters, there seems to be a definite resemblance. Don’t you love the hats? In particular, I love the long cloak of the woman on our left, with that double row of decorative buttons. Too bad the photographer didn’t include their names in the above note. But still, we appreciate the fact that he did write a description, and we appreciate the sense of occasion  it would have been for the women, Swedish immigrants, both engaged to be married.

As for the photographer, he was Fred Albert Grinolds, born in Oil City, Pennsylvania, March 2, 1879, mother’s maiden name Swartz. Fred must not have been in the photography business for very long:  November 15, 1911, he married Elba Vera Lovelass in Marshfield, Coos County, Oregon, his occupation given as “ratchet setter” (at a sawmill). By the 1918 WWI Draft Registration, he was working as a millwright at the Old Dominion Company (a copper mining operation) in Globe, Arizona. Nothing was found for him online under the photographer heading, but it sounds like this would have been in California, before he got married. He and Edna had two daughters, Edna and Bertha. Below is Fred’s obit found in The Modesto Bee, August 22, 1960:

Sources:  “California Death Index, 1940-1997,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPWR-WK9 : 26 November 2014), Fred A Grinolds, 21 Aug 1960; Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento.

Year: 1910; Census Place: Newport, Coos, Oregon; Roll: T624_1280; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0052; FHL microfilm: 1375293.

Registration State: Arizona; Registration County: Gila County. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

“Fred A. Grinolds.” The Modesto Bee, August 22, 1960. Monday, p. 10. (Newspapers.com).

Boy In Tire, California 1929

Old photo, decorative border, 1929.

Price:  $5.00          Size:  About 3 and 7/8 x 2 and 7/8″

Well, we know the place and year of this photo from the easily read license plate. (A definite departure from the usual norm of trying to “will” a plate into focus. 🙂 )

It’s an Art Deco design that frames this cute shot of a little boy sitting inside the upright spare (Goodyear) tire. He’s in overalls and wearing a couple of strands of beads, with a big smile and clutching something in one chubby hand. An adult, probably his dad, is in the background. As for the car – Model T Coupe? We’ll have to check with our go-to site for car questions, Antique Automobile Club of America. There is no writing on the back (though from a genealogy standpoint we feel like we’re looking at somebody’s grandpa, with great-grand in the back) but it’s a nice slice of Americana – back when the family car was also one of many play destinations for the kids.