Man With a Camera

Meet Ralph, my grandfather.

Last year, I wrote about the great purge of thousands of slides, negatives and photos cluttering my home. Those images worth saving were scanned, then all of that analog media was sent to the landfill. The great bulk of the pile consisted of the Ektachrome and Kodachrome slides that Ralph had exposed from the 1940s through the 1970s—nearly all of them decaying in some combination of mildew, rot, scratches and color shift.

My grandfather loved to bring his camera along whenever he left home. Most of his photos were taken with the same Argus C3 camera that I used for these shots in 1990 (it was my only working camera at the time). Apart from the obvious lineal appeal of his photography, I also like wandering across vintage America through his lens, enjoying the cars, the clothing, the signs and the places. Here are 33 of my favorite images. (You can click on each photo to enlarge it to its full size.)

Plenty of family photos in the mix, of course. My mother and grandmother at the beach…

Real food (gluten, sugar and lard…yum!) at a family gathering in Boonville, Indiana, circa 1950…

Before my grandfather got the Argus C3, he used a half-frame camera, which shoots two 18 x 24mm photos on each 35mm frame. These next three images were captured with that camera.

Easter Sunday, probably 1946. In so many photos through the years, it seems that Marie was always dressed like a movie star…

A rare white Christmas in Evansville, 1948 or so. My mom (in red) and her friend showing off their toys…

Miss Moneypenny (Ralph’s secretary)…

Perhaps she’s the one who took this photo of Ralph at his desk. On the shelf, a framed portrait of my grandmother…

In the 1950s, Ralph held an administrative position with The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. This work took him and his associates all over the country, and many of the travel photos in his collection were captured on business trips. This conspicuously tall man appears in dozens of images from these journeys. Here’s a visit to Chinatown, San Francisco…

Making friends at Fisherman’s Wharf…

Beware the frisky boat captain…

Breakfast in New Orleans…

Black Cat, Woman in Red: Don’t know who she is. Perhaps she works there, perhaps she sings there. Maybe she was just strolling by. I’ve searched online for Piro’s and The Black Cat but I was unable to pin down the location. I can say that this photo was near the batch of slides from the group’s trip to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. If you recognize this establishment and know which city we’re in, please leave a comment below…

Proud to be a union man…

Johnny Lunchpail…

View from a window seat; a Lake Central Airlines DC-3 taxis by…

Happy people in Kentucky…

Summer weekend traffic in the mountains of Tennessee…

Baptism in progress…

Poolside in Clearwater, Florida…

Busy day at the beach. Not a good place to bury your friend in the sand…

Cabin life in the 1950s (has it really changed much?)…

Harvard Square, 1970…

A photo of Ralph’s shiny 1962 Corvair, taken in 1963…

The railroad bridge at Henderson, Kentucky, and a riverboat made from an old city bus. The man on the right is the boat’s builder and captain. My grandmother is seated on the railing. These friends enjoyed plenty of weekend cruises along the Ohio River…

The 6′ 7″ Mr. James Arness (Gunsmoke’s Marshal Matt Dillon) attends a party on the bus-boat. He was a friend of a family friend…

And there are several photos of me in Ralph’s collection, showcasing many years of questionable haircuts. Here’s my first visit to the Atlantic Coast. North Hampton, New Hampshire, 1964…

One of my earliest road trips, April 1965. Somewhere along the Mohawk Trail

Lounging with my grandparents. I believe that’s the only pair of red shoes I’ve ever owned…

Logan Airport, 1966. Probably my first airplane ride. Remember when people would dress nicely to fly?

Marie and me, 1964…

Ralph and me, 1968…

Thanks for tuning in. Hope you enjoyed the slideshow.

 

7 thoughts on “Man With a Camera

  1. These photos are FABULOUS! My favorite of you is: “Marie and me, 1964” you just look like a little doll-face 🙂 I have lots of old family pictures – but sadly, not many with details written on the back. My grandmother was the one who documented, usually.

    Liked by 1 person

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