Photo Op By The Lake

Vintage photo, circa 1950s.

Price:  $4.00

Maybe Michigan, probably 1950s

An African-American family possibly taken in Michigan, where the photo was found. Were they on their way out to breakfast or church? Was the location a vacation spot for them or taken near home or were they visiting relatives? We’ll probably never know unless by some amazing serendipitous event someone’s browsing and happens to recognize these people. Not unheard of. I’ve been reading Henry Z. “Hank” Jones, Jr.’s Psychic Roots, Serendipity & Intuition in Genealogy.”  If you do family research, for example, chances are excellent that you can recount multiple instances of that feeling of “being led” to a spectacular find. Or, on the opposite side, if you sell or post family photos or other items you may have a story of someone walking into your store and finding their relatives’ “lost” family album, or seeing someone happen upon a postcard that they themselves had written and mailed fifty years ago. In our talks with sellers we’ve heard a surprising number of such accounts. The kind that make your hair stand up on the back of your neck (in a good way!). Here’s one from my family:

Serendipity in Montréal

Maybe fifteen or twenty years ago, I’ve forgotten by now, I was with some family members vacationing in Montréal. Sitting on the beds in the motel we were trying to figure out what to do for the day, looking at brochures. I was drawn to the one on the Pointe-à-Callière Museum and felt we “had to” go there, that it was important to go. In one of the exhibits we saw an artist’s rendition of a mother holding a child. Standing in front of this drawing I had a strong urging to take a photo. Immediately the thought came into my head,  “Why? It’s not like you’re related to her or anything.”  Ahhh, but as you’ve guessed 🙂 she (beautiful Charlotte, specifically Marie Charlotte Gloria dit Roch or DesRoches) turned out to be, not just any relative necessarily, but mine and my siblings’ 6th-great grandmother. (See Collections archéologiques for a photo of the handle of a tool? with Charlotte’s name carved on it. This was one of many artifacts that had been uncovered at the site of what is called “the birthplace of Montréal” and what later became the museum.) Now, at that point I hadn’t yet researched that particular line, and had never even come across her name. It was not till a few years later, while searching my Dufour side online, and “climbing the tree” by finding my direct ancestor Pierre Dufour that there, lo and behold, was his wife, Charlotte Roch. Wait, what??? (Jaw-dropping, falling out of chair.) Not the end of the story, though. For about a week after that, what seemed like every time I got into the car, I heard Chuck Berry’s, “You Never Can Tell” either just playing or as the next offering by the d.j. You know the lyrics, ♪ “It was a teenage wedding and the old folks wished them well. You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle.” ♪ True, Pierre was not a teenager when they wed, and though Charlotte was, that was not unusual in the least at that time, but it was the true love part that seemed to be the point of what felt like a message bridging “time.” (What is time? 😉 ) Records show that Pierre and Charlotte had eleven kids and, of course, have many many descendants. Notable is the birthplace of their second child. Their first was born in Montréal, and the youngest nine in Detroit. But the baptismal record (all are in French) for their second child, Marie Charlotte Dufour, states she was born in the  “8yattenons.”  (French-Canadian priests sometimes wrote a number to denote a sound or abbreviate a word, for instance “7bre” for septembre, which by the way, can be confusing when reading the record, the digit 7 but the 9th month!) The appellation 8yattenons was used for Fort Ouiatenon. This has been verified in other unrelated records, and the fact that Pierre was a soldier when he and his young family left Montréal adds credibility to daughter Charlotte having been born at or near this fort. Well, this ended up to be a lengthy sidetrack off the subject of this post, that of the vintage photo from the 1950s, yikes! But definitely, if you’d like to share your own stories of the serendipity-amazing luck-small world type we’d love to hear them.

Back to the photo…..

Amazing how every photo transmits so much. An everyday moment maybe, but no less special, as when we look we see the smiles, and the grace and humor, maybe get a sense of the struggles, and yet the joy, in a backdrop, no, make that of a oneness with, a particular place and time, and somehow in total it all washes over us like a blessing…. No identifying info on the back, but maybe we’re looking at a photo of a husband and wife and mother or auntie or older sister of either? All three are very stylish. Love the striped tie on the gentleman. I think of him as Clarence (heehee, he’s likely laughing somewhere now). There’s the flashy belt the older woman wears that’s caught the lens light……there’s the very chic pose of the younger woman, and….her skirt. Check out the pattern on the fabric, a surprise and a delight:  Chickens!

Gloria LoVasco, Detroit 1940s

Vintage photo, early 1940s.

Price:  $7.00         Size:  About 1 and 1/2 x 2 and 5/8″

One last summery photo before we start moving into autumn…..beautiful Miss Gloria LoVasco (also seen as Lo Vasco and Lovasco) of 3839 French Rd in Detroit. This small photo was probably given to a friend back in the day, estimating early 1940s, but almost seventy years later had been waiting to be rediscovered in a bin at an antique store. The 3839 French Road address, now a vacant residential lot, lies just north, less than two miles, from the Detroit River and Belle Isle, so, that might be the River in the background. (Note the picnic basket on the bottom left. Looks like it was a fun day!)

As for the surname, the 1940 Federal Census for Gloria and her family shows the LoVascos were of Italian descent and then a quick search for the name origin of Vasco indicates a name used for someone from the Basque region (in Northern Spain). It would be interesting to see if the family had a Basque connection going further back.

Sources:  Year: 1940; Census Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: m-t0627-01849; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 84-286. (Ancestry.com).

Vasco name meaning. https://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=vasco. (accessed 09/29/19).

Our Dear Deer Friend

Vintage photo, circa 1920s – 1940s.

Price:  $5.00           Size:  About 3 and 1/8 x 2 and 3/8″

Outside of a cedar-shingled, hotel, we presume, two women and a deer enjoy a visit while in the background a man and young boy appear to be in the middle of a handshake. I like the light reflecting off of those velvet-y antlers, and the surprise of that hefty tree trunk immediately in front of one of the windows. Good for viewing ants from that room, and which came first, the tree or the building?

Young Man And Wooden Fishing Boats

Old photo, circa late 1910s – 1920s.

Price:  $5.00         Size:  5 and 1/2 x 3 and 1/4″

No writing on the back of this one:  a young man posing for the camera perched on the bow (well, maybe stern) of a wooden fishing boat, one of several grouped together. He wears a suit and tie and a somewhat unusual striped hat. And, this could have been taken in so many possible places. The shot reminds me of Ireland though, because of the old wooden boats that Mom and I saw one time, having gotten out of the car to take a stroll by the sea. So, naturally, I had to look up coastal photos of Ireland….not with any hope of finding the location (because one would need psychic abilities on this one!) but just because I’m always compelled. Once you get that idea in your head you find yourself typing something in Google no matter what the odds are…..so this image of Skerries in County Dublin, with it’s similar look of sweeping coastline came up right away, by chance having a chance 🙂  to fit the criteria in our image. (If you click to enlarge ours you can see the background better where maybe some mistiness makes the land seem lower than in the “what-are-the-odds-Skerries-photo” or maybe it’s the angle at which it was taken.) Here’s Skerries, Fingal, County Dublin.

And wouldn’t that be hilariously something if it were indeed a match?…..On the other hand, maybe this is Massachusetts….

Source:  “The Top Ten Most Beautiful Seaside Towns in Ireland.” (www.irelandbeforeyoudie.com). Accessed September 7, 2019.

Mrs. Minnie Perreault

Old photo, circa 1930s, white border.

Price:  $10.00        Size:  2 and 3/4 x 4 and 1/2″

Continuing with a very short woman with oar or paddle theme 🙂 here’s a photo circa 1930s, and we’re guessing (though not certain) that the woman in the canoe is the “Mrs. Minnie Perreault” as written on the back. She was the wife of Ludger Perreault, and their address given is 479 Ann St., Hartford, CT. The 1930 Federal Census for Hartford shows them at this address, along with their daughter Lillian, age 9, with several lodgers living also in the household. This photo was found in a box of loose photos at the vintage paper fair recently visited in San Francisco.

Source:  Year: 1930; Census Place: Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0039; FHL microfilm: 2339999. (Ancestry.com).

Lake Michigan Fun, 1938

Photo, white border. Dated July 28, 1938.

Price:  $4.00         Size:  3 and 9/16 x 2 and 1/2″

We’re still at Lake Michigan from the last post….This time at one of the beaches at South Haven, Michigan on July 28, 1938, where a young girl in an inner tube and an adult, pose for the snapshot. No names on the back but we just like this old reminder of summers at the beach in days past.

U.S.S. Richmond At Balboa, Panama

Old photo, circa 1920s. Balboa, Panama.

Price:  $25.00        Size:  About 4 and 1/4 x 3 and 1/8″

Richmond at Balboa

As it turns out, there are two ships here, one directly behind the other. Which one is Richmond is uncertain, but one might assume she’s the one in the forefront. As to the date, the Wikipedia entry lists Richmond as being at Panama both in 1924 and 1942, but our guess is the earlier decade, both from the look of the photo and the similarity to the following image of Balboa, found online at Library of Congress, which is estimated to have been taken between 1908 and 1919:

Panama Canal Zone, town of Balboa

Sources:  U.S.S. Richmond (CL-9). n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Richmond_(CL-9). Accessed May 27, 2019.

Panama Canal Zone, town of Balboa. , None. [Between 1908 and 1919] Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2016821455/.

Woman In Sailor Dress

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

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

Well, we were looking for military-related items for Memorial Day but have none at the moment. This will be the closest, a young woman in a sailor dress. Was this just fashion or could she have actually been in the navy? We suspect the former, but maybe someone out there can fill us in. Notice the water pump in the background. There is no writing on the back and no indication of where this might have been taken. Just one of millions of loose photos that were a part of someone’s family collection and ended up in a random box. Sad, but it’s nice to rescue these type, and bring them back to life. I like the woman’s gracefulness and her pose in profile. (And isn’t it funny how we tend to romanticize these moments, frozen in time. In reality, what would the woman say about this snapshot? Oh, that was me when……I was just…..)

Mrs. Alvidsen At 11,660 Feet

Real Photo Postcard, circa 1900 – 1910

Price:  $15.00         Size:  3 and 3/16 x 5 and 3/8″

Somewhere on the planet, at 11,660 feet…..

The location for this one is a mystery. The writing on the back is  “Mrs. Avildsen at [?] 11660 feet El.”  Looks to me like that word there starts with a “C.” After some research, the best possibility found is that of Monte Cervino, aka the Matterhorn, so maybe from the Italian side of the mountain at 11,600 feet which is about 3,535 meters. That’s an ice field behind our smiling subject. Is she holding flowers?

Postcard publisher unknown, so far

The postcard publisher or printer is another mystery. I’m not seeing this particular style of Real Photo Postcard back on any other site or in Walter Corson’s Publisher’s Trademarks Identified. Also, the size is a little smaller that the average RPPC (and the bottom doesn’t seem to have been cropped). If the card was produced in the U.S. the postal regulations didn’t allow for the divided back until December 1907, though it could still be earlier if printed from another country.

Climbing the Alps in the Victorian Era

Eleven hundred plus feet is quite high, higher than the highest city in the U.S., which is that of Leadville, Colorado (elevation 10,152 feet or 3,094 meters, nicknames The Two-Mile-High City and Cloud City). And, if this was Mount Cervino, there would not have been an inn at that elevation. So, it’s not as if our lady mountaineer walked out of her hotel and up a slope and posed for the picture. Newspaper articles are numerous on early climbing, and mention employing guides and going part way by pack-mules or horses. In searching Newspapers.com for Mount Cervino, and getting a little side-tracked from women climbers, I came across a wonderful article about a guy, in need of guide, as on that particular day there was a shortage, and so the man hired someone who turned out to be a smuggler. (Imagine the endless possibilities of caching goods in the mountains). Here are four excerpts from “A Strange Guide,” clipped from The Ogden Standard (Ogden, UT) and translated from Italian.  (Not sure where Fiery was but here’s a link for Valtournenche, Italy.)

The smuggler/guide was saying he can’t afford to lose time. He asks the “guide-ee” for help searching for the missing relative, and it’s gladly given. I’m sorry to say that the story does not have a happy ending. The missing relative had stopped to rest in the heavy fog and “fallen asleep” in the cold never to awaken. The two searchers discovered that the man’s body had just been brought in that evening when they got back to the inn at Fiery. And we don’t usually put up the sad stuff here on LCG, but the article was touching – the way that the “guide-ee” changes his first negative impression of the guide, becoming, one would think, forever bonded with him through the shared experience of searching for that lost loved one.

Below, from another beautifully written account, this one from 1880, three excerpts clipped from The Standard (London, England) entitled, “Gossip From The Alps (From A Climbing Correspondent.)”  By coincidence, both articles are from newspapers called the Standard, one in Utah and the other London, UK. And, it always floors me, hitting upon a hitherto unknown subject, like for me the history of mountaineering, that very first glimpse into what would be an enormous vista of knowledge, that others have already been “living in”, so to speak, like in a living landscape of knowledge…..feels like coming to a party way late and getting a smidgen of a glimpse of everything you’ve been missing.

Gossip from the Alps, September 1880

And on the subject of women climbers!

Well, that’s enough historical articles for now, as this post has really gotten long, though of course, the Alvidsen name was searched for but nothing came up in newspapers, so we’ll just include links to a couple of excellent web articles on the history of women in mountaineering, for some great photos and insight. Just imagine climbing in a long skirt like the one Mrs. Alvildsen is wearing, and then that hat, at eleven and a half thousand feet, seemingly so incongruous from our 2019 vantage point. (Though a hat with a wide brim would have been a very good thing in the high altitude sun.) And how about the rest of what the early women climbers were up against, not just the clothing challenge, but in general, going against (or around) society’s code, to pursue their passion…..I especially love the part about Lucy Walker ditching her petticoat and stashing it behind a rock!

One of the First Female Alpinists Was A Victorian Lady

For the Lady Mountaineer

Sources:  Leadville, Colorado. n.d. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadville,_Colorado (accessed April 7, 2019).

Valtournenche. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valtournenche (accessed April 7, 2019).

“A Strange Guide.”  The Ogden Standard (Ogden, UT). April 2, 1892. Saturday, p. 3. Translated by Antonio Meli from the Italian by G. Giacosa for Boston Transcript. (Newspapers.com).

“Gossip From The Alps (From A Climbing Correspondent.)” The Standard (London, England). September 24, 1880. Friday, p. 2. (Newspapers.com).

Siber, Kate. “One of the First Female Alpinists Was A Victorian Lady.” outsideonline.com. July 31, 2018. (accessed April 7, 2019).

“For the Lady Mountaineer.” americanalpineclub.org. March 1, 2018. (accessed April 7, 2019).

Albert Mayer And Tobias Branger Storefronts, Davos, Switzerland

Carte-de-visite. Circa 1890s. Davos, Switzerland

Availability Status:  SOLD          Size:  4 and 1/16 x 2 and 7/16″

Circa 1890’s, Davos, Switzerland….

Here’s a carte-de-visite found at an antique shop on the Central Coast of California. And, it’s always a thrill to get a photo scanned to the computer (mentally rubbing hands together in anticipation of being hit with the wow factor, or the “hmmmmm factor”, which is just as good, or better, the intrigue, you know….which can then lead us to the wow factor. 😉 ) But, it can’t be stretching the point to say that each item anyone finds (or has, or looks at, or whatever) whether it’s a postcard, a photo, a trade card, a calling card, or some other enchanting piece of ephemera, likewise a piece of furniture, jewelry, etc., is like a key just waiting to open, or re-open, multiple doorways. Come to think about it everything has a history, even a scrap of paper lying on the ground outside….The contemplation of the history of everything is mind-blowing, which leads one to thinking about the inter-connectedness of everything and everyone, no doorways now, just like a billion times a billion, or better, infinity times infinity of criss-crossed links, well….really just oneness. (Is this how enlightenment happens for some, the contemplation of a piece of dust or a scrap of paper?)

Alpine air and wonderful shops

Davos, Switzerland, circa 1890s:  A street scene showing the Centralhof, (Central court) which is the tall building, (guessing this might have been an apartment building or hotel) and attached to the Centralhof a line of single-story shops; of these, the two store names that we can discern are, on the left, Albert Mayer Juwelier (Jewelry store) and on the right Tob. Branger. Click the image to enlarge and note at the top of the Branger window, there’s a phrase of some sort, the second word appears to be Voyage. The first word appears to start with an “A” so, maybe it was the poetic, l’Art du Voyage:  It turns out that Tobias (pronounced TOE-be-us) Branger and brother Johannes owned a shop specializing in, “…sporting equipment and ‘travelling utensils.’ ” 

All who wander…..

A little research explodes into lots of (snow-covered) paths to wander down…..Wow! Tobias Branger, thought to be the first professional ski instructor in the Alps…..he and brother Johannes teaching author Arthur Conan Doyle to ski….the history of Alpine skiing…..Doyle’s contribution to Davos as a winter sports destination….Davos’ history as a health resort for tuberculosis sufferers….the life of Louisa Doyle, Conan’s first wife…..Tobias’ “Norwegian snowshoes” (were they in the shop window at the time of the carte-de-visite photo?)….Alpine skiing with one pole….night skiing to avoid ridicule (I’m picturing the Brangers and other pioneers hanging out with today’s winter X sports pioneers and contributors – kindred spirits, for sure.) Wonderful articles online abound – see the links further below. And a question:  Is that Tobias and Johannes Branger posing outside their shop in the photo? A definite maybe. And though Tobias Branger and Conan Doyle are said to have looked remarkably alike, of the two, it would seem to be Tobias (on our left) in the image. See the comparison photos in In the Tracks of Sherlock Holmes, first link below.

Location confirmation

Backtracking a little, not being certain, at first, that the scene on our card was really Davos, we found mention of jeweler Albert Mayer, in the Dutch publication shown below, which is a guide for the treatment center for lung ailments and a travel guide. Description of some of the shops lists Mayer’s as having “the finest gold works, watches and rings,” and just to mention a couple more, a store selling Swiss wood carvings and (one can picture how the author of this booklet was charmed at finding) a flower shop with [Google translation from Dutch]  “the most robust little bouquets, even in winter when the trampled snow outside the shops is at least two feet high.”

In the Tracks of Sherlock Holmes

Davos –  the pioneer:  Winter tourism in the Alps

The Davos sledge:  A classic among sports equipment

Two Planks and a Passion

Teller of Tales:  The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle

More musings on the carte details….

Was there some occasion for this photograph, or was it just the occasion of a photographer taking a photo circa 1890s? Note the three people on the second story outdoor courtyard area of the Centralhof building, two ladies on the left and a man on the right. (This from inspection under a magnifying glass – feeling a little Sherlock Holmes-y, for sure….) Other details to note are the duffel-looking bags (maybe mail bags) in front of both Albert Mayer’s and the Brangers’ shop; the poster advertisement – a mustachioed man with epaulets pointing in the distance and young woman just below him, it’s maybe a company name advertised there (almost readable) ; the iron balconies of the Centralhof building; the beautiful horizontal stripe effect of the mason work on the shop fronts….

Sources:  Stashower, Daniel. Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle. Henry Holt & Co., 1999. Google Books accessed March 31, 2013.

Davos – the pioneer:  Winter tourism in the Alps. (www.davos.ch.) Accessed March 31, 2019.

The Davos sledge:  A classic among sports equipment. (www.davos.ch.) Accessed March 31, 2019.

Louisa Hawkins. The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia. (www.arthur-conan-doyle.com) Accessed March 31, 2019.

Huntford, Roland. Two Planks and a Passion: The Dramatic History of Skiing. Continuum UK, 2008. Google Books accessed March 31, 2013.

Rosenblatt, Albert and Julia. “In the Tracks of Sherlock Holmes.”  Skiing. February 1982. pp. 74-78. Google Books accessed March 31, 2013.

Andriessen, Willem Frederik. Davos: eene beschrijving van het leven in dit herstellingsoord voor borstlijders. Van Raven, 1888. p. 56. Google Books accessed March 31, 2013.