But Why?

For the last couple of years, I’ve been undertaking the arduous task of digitizing the thousands of slides and negatives that I inherited from my father. While they are mostly treasured family memories and reminders of great days gone by, there are the occasional photos that pop up where I say to myself “Why did you waste a shot on this?”

History lesson time for the kids: Before smartphones and digital cameras, we had to use film to take photos (the hipster kids will already know this). So, you only got, typically, 24 or 36 photos per roll of film and you had to pay and wait to actually see them. So, unlike today where you’re really only limited in how many photos you can take by your device’s memory or battery, back then, you were limit by cost (initial purchase of film and, once you’ve used it, developing and printing expenses) and by how much film you could carry—a bunch of film canisters could take up a lot of space!

That’s why when I’ve been going through these photos that my father took, I wonder what compelled him to take some of these photos. 

So, for your enjoyment(?), here are a few that perplex me. 

My “best guess” is that the first few are somehow related to my father’s work in the East Texas oilfields as these appear to be oil field service companies, though why he felt he needed photos of them is a secret that died with him. 

The last, however, is perfectly obvious as to why he took it:

They misspelled their own company name on their own truck!

This is how I know that I’m my father’s son…I love taking photos of misspellings on signs!

Photos from Pre-War* Europe

*Because we unfortunately have to specify which war this concerns, these are photos from prior to World War II

Before the Jet Age, traveling from the United States to Europe was a big deal. It usually involved a long voyage via ocean liner or several short airplane hops from New York to Newfoundland to Ireland to London and onward. The continent itself was recovering from the First World War, but the sense of dread of the upcoming World War II must have been in the air. 

In the days before digital cameras, smartphones and Instagram, people still took photos to document their experiences…they just didn’t have a way to share with the world. So, in most cases, these snapshots languished in albums tucked away in bookcases, shoeboxes on the top shelf of closets or envelopes in the back of desk drawers, only seen on occasion and rarely by anyone but the possessor. 

Several years ago, at the estate sale of Mrs. D.K. Caldwell of my hometown, Tyler, Texas, I came across a small collection of these forgotten photos from pre-War Europe.

Side note: D.K. Caldwell was a businessman who started a small zoo in his backyard in the late 1940s that eventually grew into the present-day Caldwell Zoo

Some of these photos are pretty amazing, so I’ve decided to share them over the coming weeks to give them the exposure that they never had.

If a note is written on the back of any photo, I’ve included it as the caption.

Fascist Girl Scouts
Fascisti Girl Scouts

Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the above photo except that it does depict what the note on the back states. An interesting Wikipedia article on Italian Fascist scouts and youth groups can be found here.

The following two photos, however, are of the Colosseum in Rome. The first seems to depict either archaeologists or grave robbers…your guess is as good as mine.