21 May 2011

A love affair...

Ever since the first time in the basement... fumbling around in the dark... excited whispers... how will we know if we are doing it right? 

(sorry to let you down so completely...)

It is me, and I have a love affair with photography. My dad and I learned how to develop film and print our own photographs in our basement in Connecticut- probably around 1965. We didn't have a darkroom per se, we shut off all the lights and hey presto! we had a dark room. I don't think there are many things more magical than seeing a photograph develop on a very wet piece of paper in the (almost) complete dark. Even when using a proper safelight to see just enough to do the work without ruining the photographic paper, it is hard to tell how well you are developing a photograph until you are able to turn the lights on, to get a good look at the end product. A lot of trial and error; but we did find the right times and temperatures eventually. I did go on after high school and study photography in college. And even owned a photo lab for ten years... until I saw the digital writing on the wall. But I will never forget standing in the darkroom making darkroom magic with my dad.

Nowadays I surf the web to see if I can find photographs of people I know... like my Uncle Russ:

Russell B. Stoddard
member of The Gunnery School Football team ca. 1930

The Gunnery School 1930 Football Team

I found them by Googling 'old photographs' and then following some links... I eventually found the photos on a website called FamilyOldPhotos.com. You can search their database by key words.

Amongst my cache of family photographs is this lovely woman... she is not related to us, but was a friend of the Stoddard Family. My mother remembered her. There is something very intriguing about her...

Verturia Platt - a friend of the Stoddard family in New Haven, CT

One of my favorite pastimes is to wander around antique stores... and naturally, I gravitate to any box that holds old photos. I can't really express how I feel when I find a big old box of photos, presumably of loved ones. What makes a person throw out a box of photographs of their family members? I can understand why some folks (and I have to include myself) don't write down who is in the photograph... it takes so much time, you know? Have to have the right pencil, can't be in ink....

So, if I had all the spare change in the world, and the time to go round them all up, I would rescue all the poor souls who are sitting around in boxes, biding their time with all the other treasures in antique shops. 

I did rescue the following folks. I perused the box, but these said please take me home with you! And so I did.


This little charmer is is Margurite Allen at about 10 mos - the photo was taken after she cut her front hair. It says so on the back of the photo... the photo was taken in Rochester, NH.

I was giggling pretty hard when I read that.... she looks like a handful to me!

This is Nellie Simpson. That's all I know about him... Nelson, I suppose. I might look him up in the census records of Boston someday... he has a sort of presence for a young man, doesn't he?

This young lady is not favored with a name on the reverse. It's too bad, she is quite striking I think...

She could even send her photo as a post card... how cool is that?

Then there is Cousin Will... not my cousin, but someone's cousin Will.

The note on the back says " With best regards from Cousin Will' and 97 on the left margin. The photograph was taken at 786 Fifth Ave, in New York, by MRobinson. 

The final photograph is one that I treasure... I would really like to know this lady...

I love that she has an all out smile on her face. 

So, there we are. 

Oh, and if you are related to one of these fine folks, let me know... and if you find one of my relatives in a box of photographs, I would be your BFF!

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