UPDATE: This post has been edited from the original published earlier in the day on December 14. New information about the photos had been passed on shortly after the post hit the blog. The changes did not affect the content of the original presentation.
It was almost a standing joke in the 20th Century: People would go out on vacations, take a lot of photos, return home, and share those photos with anyone who would look. Friends and family would roll their eyes and politely sit through the presentation. Some, though, enthused over the smallest details of the pictured treasures.
It seems doubtful that the many folks who took those shots imagined a 21st Century when those meaningful moments would be seen all over the world with just a click of a mouse. Little did they realize that they were documenting an era(s) for future generations of strangers. The snapshots would be put into scrapbooks for future familial generations, or into boxes and stored away like so much junk. As time went on the photos would fade, not unlike the memories. Some would end up in a landfill close to the old family home. Some would be passed down the family tree where younger generations would obligingly accept them and stow them away for what, they don’t know. Some would be sold by bulk in garage sales, or vintage memorabilia shops, or entire estate sales.
Fortunately, for history’s sake, there are people like Vieilles-Annonces – a Vernacular Photography Curator working with 35mm slide digitizing and restoration, who specializes in Kodachrome. Her Flickr page, Midwestern Femme, features pages of this work and it is truly wonderful. Vieilles-Annonces:
These slides and photographs came from many estate sales. They were dusty, darkened, bent, underexposed (some damaged by water) and were destined to be trash. Through the help of Photoshop, they can be seen once again.
A number of the photos shown below were purchased by Vieilles-Annonces from an older, more experienced collector/restorer. One might say that torch has been passed in the interest of preservation. Those snapshots that were acquired from the gentleman curator will be marked with an asterisk.
All of these photos have been restored with their great Kodachrome color look and seem almost like they were taken yesterday. Having had to narrow them down to a few was difficult to do. Below you’ll find some of the meaningful moments of yesterday that shine a light on the photographers’ otherwise long lost past.
Children were almost always a favorite subject:
Of course the adults had their moments:
And then there were the vehicles – people took great pride in their rides:
Public transportation used to be more appreciated:
*Spirit of 1776 in Allentown, Pennsylvania – Late 1940s. Also known as The Freedom Train, this ALCO powered locomotive was the first diesel train in an age of steam. It was very popular with the masses and the lines were always long – as seen in this great photo. The Freedom Train is said to ‘hold the record for “the most kissed” locomotive of all time.’
*De Grasse Steamship – Taken Between 1949 and 1952. Officially known as, The Doughty De Grasse, and built by Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, United Kingdom for the French Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, she was the largest French liner at the time. She was seized in 1940 by the Germans and sunk by gunfire at Bordeaux in 1944. The De Grasse was rebuilt and refit in 1947. In 1953 she was taken over, refitted by Canadian Pacific Steamships, and renamed The Empress Of Australia. Her end came in 1962. By then renamed The Venezuela, the ship wrecked off Cannes in March and she was broken up at La Spezia in August the same year.
*Deutsche Bundesbahn – Late 1950s. This looks a lot like an Schienen-Straßen-Omnibus (aka, The Rail Bus) – a two-way vehicle for passenger transport on both railways and roads. Perhaps the photographer knew of its novelty, hence the pic.
The Clipper Defender in Portugal August, 1959 – Pan American World Airline. The Defender was a Douglas DC-7C, aka ‘Seven Seas,’ as it could fly ‘non-stop routes across the US, as well as in transatlantic, transpacific, and even Great Circle routes over the North Pole.’ The DC-7C was ‘a plane that finally brought virtually every spot on the globe within reach of the world’s airlines via a direct routing.’ Within a few years of its accomplishments the DC-7C would become obsolete as the world of flight would abandon piston-engine transport for the jet-age stars like the Boeing 707.
And then there are the unusual transports:
*A Shark Plane Boat – 1943. The design is reminiscent of Commander Claire Chennaul’s famous WWII Flying TIgers’ nose art. Check out their story here.
While in Japan… Early 1950s. This is an excellent photo of an early fire bike. In Japan there has been, for a long time, concern about earthquakes. The fire bikes are to this day seen as having an all terrain, obstacle avoiding advantage over trucks. Today they are known as ‘Quick Attackers’ and are used for fire-fighting, rescue and medical first aid treatment.
And some history:
*Cold Bay Alaska manning the controls – late 1950s. Completed in September, 1958, and manned by the 714th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, the Cold Bay AFS was set up as a defense radar station constructed to provide the United States Air Force early warning of an attack by the Soviet Union on Alaska. The site was inactivated in 1979 when microwave signals proved more reliable than the high frequency radio system used until that time.
There are photographs of some exotic looking American sites:
And some very exotic places overseas:
And finally, there is humor.
So there you have it – some really super photos taken by average people who unwittingly captured their moments in time for all of us to enjoy. Many thanks go out to the Gentleman Collector for his contributions to this collection, and to Vieilles-Annonces for her wonderful work and dedication to preserving these gems.