Railbirds, Kent, 1925

Old photo, Kent, 1925.

Price:  $2.00               Size:  4 and 3/8 x 2 and 3/4″

I thought railbirds would be railroad workers, but no. The definition of railbird from Dictionary.com is:

Noun, informal

  1.  a horse-racing fan who watches racing or workouts from the railing or along the track.
  2. any kibitzer or self-stylized critic or expert

Origin:  1890-95, Americanism; rail + bird in sense of “frequenter,” as in jailbird, yardbird.

The term is also used today for billiards and poker spectators. But the estimated time frame for the word origin, 1890 – 1895, seems accurate at least as far as old newspaper mentions go. Prior to 1890-’91 one can find many articles and clips on an actual bird called a railbird (rail-bird, rail bird). From the Reading Times, 1869:

“Railbirds have been less numerous this season on the Delaware marshes….”

And from the Ashtabula Weekly Telegraph, 1879, a good description of the feathered ones:

Which Kent?

Back to the photo….Kent, 1925, but which Kent? Ohio….England….or other? And it could have been taken at a horse racing event, either that or it was just a clever caption, because the guys (all but one) are perched (back to the bird theme, no pun intended) on an outdoor railing. We can read wording behind them that says “Billiards.” And there’s some lettering on the awning, but not enough to figure out a business name. But the guys’ boots…almost all the same, that makes it seem like they were workers of some type.

Sources:  railbird. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/railbird. (accessed September 19, 2017).

Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania) October 13, 1869. Wednesday, p. 2 (Newspapers.com)

“English Rail-Birds in Monroe County.” Ashtabula Weekly Telegraph (Ashtabula, Ohio) December 5, 1879. Friday, p. 4.

Lingering In La Porte, 1917

Old photo, August, 1917, La Porte, Indiana.

Price:  $2.00           Size:  3 and 1/4 x 2 and 1/4″

La Porte, 1917…..

A group of guys seated (and one standing) around a corner shop window. You can just barely see the image of the photographer in the window’s reflection. What was the story with this photo? Were the men waiting for the shop to open, waiting for public transportation, were they day-workers waiting to get hired, or maybe they were waiting for their wives to finish shopping (ha ha) or other….? We don’t know, but at least we have the stamp on the reverse showing:

“Developed and Printed at Canfield’s Pharmacy. No. 12,  Aug 6 1917. La Porte, Indiana. The Kodak Store.”

Company Photo, Covina, California, 1912

Old photo, January 10, 1912. Covina, California. Photographer unknown.

Price:  $20.00        Size including matting:  About 12 x 10″

In honor of American workers, for Labor Day….

Well, there’s actually no guarantee for this being a company photo, but it’s maybe a good guess. We definitely have a date and place from the writing on the back:  February 10, 1912, Covina, California. Of course, that’s neither here, nor there, in the question. But what might make one think this is a group of employees, with maybe a boss or two in there, are the aprons some of the girls and guys are wearing, and the hand punch on a string, around the neck of the young man, third from left, front row. Could this be a photo from The Stronghold, a denim company out of Los Angeles, established 1895? That’s probably stretching it, but it is interesting to see The Stronghold label on the guy’s overalls, far left. But what is he holding up in his left hand?

Somebody’s Angel

Mini-photo, Fort Dodge, Iowa. Circa 1906.

Price:  $10.00          Size:  About 1 and 1/4 x 1 and 3/4″

Shades of decades past…

Here’s a miniature photo of an unknown little boy, with blonde hair and an angel face, about five years old. He’s seated in a child’s wooden chair (with carved backrest) and is wearing a dark, double-breasted jacket. For me, the jacket has sort of a military appearance, and reminds me of Civil War days, though, of course, this would have been taken decades later. Photo by:  The Stamp Gallery, 610 1/2 Central Ave., Fort Dodge, Iowa.

The Stamp Gallery, evidently short, but sweet

The business name, The Stamp Gallery, was not found in any online searches. It’s a nice name, though, The Stamp Gallery, and one presumes it would be in reference to the small size of the images produced. (We have some others that are actually closer to postage stamp size. See the category, Mini Photos.) But though we didn’t find the company name, we did find a photographer name at this 610 1/2 Central Avenue, in 1906, that of May E. Hodge. Later that same year, November 29th to be precise, May (Mary Elizabeth) Hodge marries Manning T. McKenzie. So, most likely, the gallery was not in business very long, but, to me, that makes this little photo rather precious.

Five years earlier, siblings on the 1904 directory

May E. Hodge, manager for O. S. Hodge, boards 721 E. Locust St., 1904 Fort Dodge city directory. Listed in the next entry on the same page is:

Oramel S. Hodge, photographer, 221 1/2 Locust and 200 E. Locust, residence 709 E. Locust.

To find the relationship between the two, we went back to the 1880 Federal Census for Indianola, IA, showing Mary Hodge, born Iowa, about 1873, younger sister of Oramel S. Hodge, born Iowa, about 1870. Their parents are J. D. and Emily (Hinckley) Hodge, and siblings on the 1880 are Luvilla and Eliza.

Sources:  R. L. Polk & Co.’s Fort Dodge City Directory, 1906. p. 110. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Fort Dodge City Directory, 1904. p. 478. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

Year: 1880; Census Place: Indianola, Warren, Iowa; Roll: 368; Family History Film: 1254368; Page: 377A; Enumeration District: 232. (Ancestry.com)

Ancestry.com. Iowa, Select Marriages Index, 1758-1996.

Young Woman With Rose, Detroit

Divided back, unused, Real Photo Postcard. Photographer:  Władyslaw Jakubowski. Circa 1911 – 1916. AZO stamp box.

Price:  $15.00

A Real Photo Postcard, not in good shape, as you can see by the “foxing” marks and the creases, most notably in the top right corner. More by Władyslaw Jakubowski can be viewed at Michigan Polonia and Polish Mission. His stamp on the back shows:

“W. Jakubowski. 1525 Michigan Ave., Detroit, Mich.”

And it’s a beautiful image of the lovely young woman, whom we might presume to be of Polish descent, posed standing with one hand resting on an open French window, and holding a rose in the other. Her dress (or matching skirt and blouse) is possibly silk (wonder what color) with long sleeves of a see-through material. She wears a white lace fichu (or maybe a long-sleeved white blouse underneath) over which lays a cross on a choker-length chain, and a large-link bracelet on her left wrist.

Delivery Men, Circa 1937

Old photo, white border. Circa 1937.

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

This photo was found in Michigan but where it was taken is unknown. The license plates don’t appear to be Michigan plates, and we’re looking around the year 1937, as the two cars in the middle should be 1937 Ford Sedan Delivery models. Here’s some examples below from a Google image search. You can see the distinctive grill and side vents, and the teardrop-shaped headlights. The car on the far left in our photo may be something different, and we didn’t research the one on the right. But the four guys (nice smiles!) clearly work for the same outfit, wearing their uniforms and company hats. And we can almost make out the sign on the building behind them. That second word is Storage, so the building must have housed some type of storage company, or showed an ad for one. (This was just to see if we could find any clues for the location of the photo, and it would be one, a good clue that is, if we could just figure out that first word, arrrgg! 😉 It looks like it starts off H-o-t-k-k? ) But don’t the two guys on our right look like they might be brothers?

Source:  “Ford Sedan 1937 Delivery.” Google.com image search. Accessed July 16, 2017.

Three Girls, Circa 1920s

Old photo, white border, circa 1920s.

Price:  $3.00          Size:  2 and 1/2 x 3 and 1/2″

We’re still in Detroit, presumably…..Or, at least that’s where this photo of the three beautiful girls was found (Dearborn to be precise) posing so perfectly, each in a drop-waist style dress that denotes the 1920s era. They might be sisters, cousins or just friends. There is no identifying writing on the back, and not that this narrows down a date at all, but we see that Velox was the printing paper used. The Velox name, at this point, had already been around awhile:  George Eastman (of Eastman Kodak) had purchased the patent for Velox from Leo Baekeland in 1898. If the name Baekeland sounds vaguely familiar, he was the chemist that invented Bakelite. (Careful, careful when buying the much-sought-after Bakelite items! There’s the real thing out there, and then there’s the what’s called genuine, but is really not!)

Sources:  Kodak. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodak (accessed July 11, 2017).

Leo Baekeland. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Baekeland (accessed July 11, 2017).

The Little Indian

Vintage photo, circa 1940s – early 1950s

Price:  $3.00       Size:  About 3 x 4 and 1/2″

Another found in Dearborn, Michigan on my recent trip, from a box of loose photos. I’ll look for anything related to this one when I go back next year. The reverse appears to be written in Czech, and probably by the grandmother of the beaming little boy “playing Indian” on the front lawn. Ewaline would be the name of the boy’s mom. And maybe someone will recognize this particular toy set of Indian headdress and drum. (Those look like hawk feathers and it says “Indian Chief” across the headband.)

“Ten mály Indian jest moj ‘sweetheart’ Ewalinies synek.” 

“The little Indian is my sweetheart, Ewalinie’s son.”

Up On The Roof

Vintage photo, white border, deckled edge. Circa 1940s – 1950s.

Price:  $1.00        Size:  About 4 and 1/4 x 3 and 1/8″

A beautiful vintage snapshot, albeit in rough shape, of an African-American family posing together on a rooftop. It was found on my recent Detroit excursion in an antique shop in Dearborn. No writing on the back, and Detroit could be the location, but just on the off-chance that the photo had not strayed too far. The time-frame is 1940s and ’50s, a little hard to pinpoint without more detailed research. For one, we see girls’ and womens’ hemlines at the knee in both decades.

Twelve In A Skiff

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

Price:  $4.00

A nice family photo made into a postcard, circa 1907 – 1918, showing twelve family members in a skiff named Elizabeth, either just about to head out on the water or just returned. Most likely the latter though because there’s the family dog, laying down in the sand (tired after all the excitement, swimming, etc?) and there’s one of the kids huddled in a towel. This RPPC would be a nice reference for the era’s bathing suits, family outings at the lake, and that type of thing. Love those bathing caps!