Friday, July 11, 2014

Found Photo Friday: The Rockaways

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Since the industrialization of America in the 19th century, generations of city dwellers have escaped the heat by heading to idyllic towns dotting the coasts. Initially only the wealthy classes could afford to own lakeside or oceanfront homes but by the turn of the century improved travel meant that the beach, the boardwalk and fresh air were only a short train ride away. On the East Coast, New Yorkers found refuge in the The Rockaways, a popular resort area located within the borough of Queens. Both inexpensive beachside bungalows and luxury hotels flourished in neighborhood such as Arverne until the 1950s and 1960s, when cheaper and more efficient air travel encouraged Americans to go farther afield for vacations.

The set of photos shared here today date from the late 1930s, just before the decline of the beachfront. Based on the written captions, I surmised that the same family visited Arverne every summer. On their own the snapshots evoke a sense of classic Americana charm, after researching the fate of Averne, however; I realize how the photos evoke a place that unfortunately was lost to abandonment and the bulldozers only a short ten years after this family's visit.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

The Found Photo Alliance

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Other people's memories can be purchased for as little as a quarter at antique shops, flea markets, and estate sales across the United States. I've been collecting "found photographs" for almost ten years, mainly in the form of vintage snapshots that date to the 1920s through the 1970s. Generally the photographs are shot by everyday people with amateur equipment with an eye for recording an event, moment, or object rather than an artistic composition. When digging through shoeboxes full of snapshots I look for certain subject matter including cats, examples of fashion/style/outfits, Chicago architecture and landmarks, photo booth photos, and arcade photos that feature a painted backdrop. I'm also fond of scrapbooks, yearbooks, and anything with a quirky handwritten caption. Found photos appeal to me because they're a glimpse into the lives of everyday people and they're small, affordable pieces of history.

Every week I'll be sharing my collection here for Found Photo Friday and on Instagram using the hashtag #foundphotoalliance. In the future there will also be interviews with fellow collectors, reviews of books featuring snapshots, and guest posts.

Today I'm sharing the album of Betty, a WWII sailor's sweetheart. I purchased the album a few months ago at a local flea market from an avid Chicago-area collector, Ron Slattery of Big Happy Funhouse. I was drawn to the anchor emblazoned album and the cheeky captions scrawled on the back of the photos by Betty.

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The photos in the album date to 1942 - 1944 and based on the captions they were sent from Betty in Chicago to her husband Bob.

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"I'm sticking my tongue out haha at Irene not you honey."

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"Taken in March 1944. Bob and Bets. This is the one and only picture I have of Bob and I together since we were kids".

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"This is me standing in front of the gas station you used to work at. Boy do I ever look tall there huh honey? I've got the blue shirt you sent me, how does it look? Sept 1943".

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"I've got Rose Marie's new fox fur coat on-- It makes me look like a bear huh?"

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"Here I am, all dressed up and no place to go-- darn! There's veiling over my head to keep from breaking my camera--any objections-- over ruled ha ha".

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"This was the clearest one of all. taken 4/11/43, Sunday at 5:30 PM on Michigan Ave. Sure wish you were on that bench with me, darling".

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"Betty the 2 week waitress at a closer view ugh! I've got my hair upswept and I don't like it-- Do you? This picture is too serious--Gosh. I didn't even recognize myself ugh!"

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"See that sign not bad eh? Kinda windy out today very windy in fact." Center: "I'm sitting on a wheelbarrow honey. I only wish I was as happy as I look when you come home darlin' I'll be happy again." Left: "I'm eating a banana here cause I got hungry. That's Michigan Blvd in the background honey."

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"July 3, 1943. How do you like my new white skirt and colored blouse? I haven't any stockings on either kid just leg makeup on-- looks real don't it?"

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"I've got the purse you sent me in my hand honey-- you like-- no!?"

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(Middle photo): "This is me honey believe it or not. The suns in my eyes, darn! I couldn't keep my eyes open! That's how I look tonite, dog tired!"Right: "This is me in Dad's car taken in Lisle, Illinois October, 1943".

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Buzzing About Bee Hive Chicago

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Robyn Witt and Joe Moore of Take 2 Vintage know how tough it can be to manage a vintage business from home, that's why they recently launched Bee Hive Chicago, a collective space in Chicago that houses nine vendors under one roof. After selling at local flea markets like The Vintage Bazaar and Vintage Garage Chicago and hosting sales at a studio space, the pair chose a light-filled industrial space in the Garfield Park neighborhood as the site for the Bee Hive.

They currently host monthly "Open House" shopping events that lets the public peruse the wares of the Hive's members along with a rotating roster of guest vendors and local artists. The next event will be this Thursday, from 5-10PM at 2958 W Carroll St, Suite 3S-- you can look forward to 1940s-1990s clothing and accessories from Imaginary Girl Jewelry & Vintage, Lost Girls Vintage, Poly Go Lightly Vintage, Cat's Pyjamas and Leah Onomatopoeia Vintage and Mid Century furniture, decor and record players from Yetti Treasures, Take 2 Vintage and Shark Gravy. If you or a friend are seeking out props or displays for an upcoming wedding or event, be sure to check out Marthette Rental, she also does customized pieces for clients.

While merchandise is one-of-a-kind and constantly rotates, check out the photos I took at Bee Hive's opening to get a taste of what you might see tomorrow night. Not located in Chicago? All of the members are also on Etsy, search for the tag "Beehive Chicago" to see what's for sale.

The Bee Hive members also want to turn their space into a hub for Chicago's community by hosting small business seminars and workshops covering topics like social media, marketing and taxes. Currently they are fundraising to increase their capacity for community outreach (including building dedicated photography setups available for hourly rental), check out their Indiegogo campaign, there's only 24 hours left to help!

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