Putting the Dog Before the Cart

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Today’s photo is not only suffering from age, but probably from being under exposed in the first place. In person it also has a bit of solarization that photos from this period often get, almost as if the silver is rising to the surface, making it even harder to see. I knew this when I bought it (to Miss Molly’s credit she does nothing to enhance the images of the photos she sells – that doesn’t happen often, although in my hobby I come across it occasionally), but I loved the image and I decided to take a chance. It is small, the image is only about 3″x4″. So, my apologies for its inherent short comings.

This photo appeals to me because I would have adored having such a set up as a child. I have written on several occasions about employing our long-suffering German Shepard, Duchess, and my cat Snoopy in a complex series of games and scenarios. The fact that, at least as a small child, I would not have had the appropriate real estate needed to really enjoy such a contraption, I will leave aside – you need some real acreage to really sport about it something like this, but wow – you’d really be doing something!

I have long contemplated that the connection with our domestic animal friends is different when you are a small child. Is it because you are, in reality, that much closer to their own intellectual bandwidth at that point? Or are you just communicating more freely? I have always wondered. I can remember long childish conversations with them both, prattling happily along, looking deep into their eyes as I spoke, absolutely certain they understood every word.

Perhaps because of the sheer amount of attention paid to them, they would allow me to undertake all sorts of indignities that I wouldn’t dream of inflicting on my pets as an adult – trying to ride the dog, dressing up the kitty, adventures with the doll carriage and the like. My parents would intervene occasionally if things got out of hand, but generally we were left to our own devices. I would have been on this dog cart thing in a minute given the opportunity. Duchess, somewhere in dog heaven, is perhaps grateful the opportunity did not arise.

My new always-at-home life has changed my relationship with Blackie and Cookie. It isn’t a coincidence that shelters have been emptied of dogs and cats during the pandemic. They are excellent company during these days that merge into one long working day.

The daily routine of Cookie and Blackie was forged early here at Deitch Studio, formed around Kim working at home and his day. Kim and the kitties start the workday (very) early, and he is in charge of their feeding, morning and evening. (Eating to cats is, without question, the most important part of the day – a brief but glorious interlude. We have strict feeding times in an, ever-failing, attempt to keep them from driving Kim nuts all day while he works.)

Until the middle of March I was on the outer edge of this cat constellation, home on weekends, but otherwise generally in the ongoing daily act of coming and going – packing a suitcase and leaving for days at a time on occasion, very undependable. They expected it and my departures and arrivals frankly rarely rated so much as a flatten ear or a greeting glance from either.

I noticed the other day when Kim went out for a walk that the cats sat by the front door the entire time, staring at it. Waiting and willing him to return. They clearly have very little faith in my ability to open a cat food can.

Yet, I think the cats have, over the course of more than four months, completely erased my daily departures from memory. I too am now a daily fixture – if a slightly less useful one. Blackie makes his appearance in Zoom calls and demands a 3:30 cuddle no matter what else I am doing – and Cookie helps me work out daily (she likes it when my trainer, Harris, appears on the iPad for a FaceTime workout where she flirts with him a bit), and both fight me for my work chair. Kim can vouch for the fact that I talk to them all the time – Cookie tends to actually answer. She’s the chatty kit of the two.

And of course I believe they understand me, or at least a certain percentage of what I tell them – mostly encouragement about being the best kitty in the whole world!  and the handsomest boy cat! and even the occasional please get off of the desk – thank you very much! – it isn’t philosophical discussion for the most part. I will have to be home many months longer before I can perhaps find my childhood knack and we can enter into long talks about the meaning of life together, Cookie, Blackie and I.


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Interesting that this card would attract me. Those of you who know my taste in canines know that I run a strong preference toward large dogs – in fact, I really like the largest of the species – Tibetan mastiffs, German Shepherds and Bernese Mountain dogs. When it comes to dogs I like ’em to be more or less horse size. However, I admit to a weakening over time toward adorable little mops like this girl here. Clearly she is someone’s prized and beloved companion – beribboned and quite literally on a pedestal here. Her name, Floss, has been neatly painted onto the neg to be printed on the card. I could be wrong, but I don’t think she’s a youngster either.

While the history of carrying a small dog seems to go way back in time (for example ancient China – and I gather from Wikipedia that in earlier times small dogs were kept to attract fleas away from their owners, rather than the other way around) there came a moment in our culture when suddenly toting a small dog around as an accessory came into fashion for the wealthy and never really went away. It was a status symbol – although I have always found it a slightly odd one admittedly. I think of films from the 40’s where as soon as a woman character actor, generally not the star, strikes it rich, she suddenly has a jolly little dog under her arm for decoration. (This is not Asta I am thinking of!) While it is no longer limited to ladies in long dresses with ropes of pearls drinking tea, the lap dog out in the world still conjures up a feminine image of a certain kind now too.

Sometimes I am jealous of how in general in Manhattan people take their dogs everywhere, but of course, most cats stay at home. (Cats on leashes and my nascent attempts at that I will save for another time.) And of course it is dogs of all sizes that one sees, but the little dogs, often tucked in special tote bags, although occasionally in dog-styled strollers, that one sees everywhere – from subway to supermarket, dining outdoors. Those pups get to see the town while my cats are home snoozing.

However, as for Floss, I’m sure she was someone’s devoted pal and this photo is a lasting tribute. Good doggie!


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Somehow it seems, if you are going to collect cats you are also occasionally going to end up with mice and dogs – if  you’re me anyway. This is a dog entry. While having that luxurious dig through that drawer of photos on my birthday (see also my recent post, The Crimson) I found this fascinating card. Done in the fashion of the cards of those posing with a giant stuffed or wooden cut-out of Felix, these people put their shingle out for photos with this large stuffed and mounted dog. This card was not only never postally used, but you can see in this additional photo the lovely cardboard frame it has existed in for years.

There is nothing on the back of this card and I assume it has lived its life in this holder, although it is a bit big for the card. Regardless, it has been kept nice all this time and perhaps the holder is responsible. You can’t really tell from this photo, but the cover is meant to be for mailing – there is a place for stamp and address on the back when it is closed. The stuffed dog appears to be wearing a muzzle – seems unnecessary – and his platform is on wheels for easy repositioning. A jolly boardwalk scene in progress (with a hard forced perspective) has been painted as the background.


I like this dog, but hey, he’s no Felix the Cat and I wonder about this as an attraction. Is it a real stuffed dog? Local hero? I guess we won’t get the answer to that part, but this gentleman seems quite engaged. While this canine seems to be a St. Bernard, it reminds me of a lovely Tibetan mastiff I met on the street once. He was a rescue and belonged to a curator I knew. Moose is the most enormous dog I have ever met and he was very friendly. As I started petting him and talking to him he was ready to climb into my lap – all 150 lbs. of him! After meeting Moose, I really wanted a Tibetan mastiff – I just loved him and I adore big dogs. But, as Kim pointed out, Moose probably couldn’t even turn around in our apartment so I tucked that thought away for that future day when we are living in a house in the country somewhere.



Pam’s Pictorama: As happens occasionally, but not often, this card has been made better by the writing on the front of it. Usually I find this an affront, but in this case, the very neat, legible hand naming each of those seated in this grand, shiny auto and informing the recipient to Address us = No. 53. E. River Street, Peru, Ind and 1915. She, Florence it turns out when we turn the card over for signature, has written in Mary Lauren (?) Buster, Maura and the penner of this card and driver of the car Florence. On further reflection, I am going to assume that the two girls are Mary and Lauren, obviously sisters, large bows prominent in their hair. Maura, elder statesman, with a jolly hat to keep the sun off in this open car. Of course, Buster, sharing the front seat, is all excitement for the adventure, and Florence, also with hat, at the wheel.

It is hard for us to remember today that a woman (women, although I think we can assume that Florence probably was the only driver here) driving, let alone for long distances, was something to talk about in 1915. I am fresh off of reading the Automobile Girls series and all seven novels are based on that idea. A young woman and her friends, chaperoned by an aunt, drive around the country on road trips of various kinds, written in 1910 and forward. (This photo of Florence, Maura, Mary and Lauren could more or less be an illustration for the book now that I think about it.) Driving was part of the emerging modern woman and it represented a great freedom women did not have previously – and one that was not universally approved of. You were a certain kind of spunky, modern gal if you were going to drive, let alone make this sort of road trip. And road trip it was – the back reveals that they drove from Pennsylvania to Peru, Indiana. A stop in Buffalo is mentioned and we assume there were a number of others.

As it happens, I do not drive. I have a driver’s license, but never drove much and now my many years of living in Manhattan has rendered me a non-driver. However, I can appreciate the freedom of driving – or even riding a bicycle for that matter. It was an important part of the great emancipation of the American woman.


Effie Myers


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This year, several posts are photos or advertising that, freakishly and by coincidence, have September anniversaries. This card which has the date September 17, 1911 written on the back is celebrating its 105th anniversary today – to the day! In the same hand is written Miss Sofie Myers, in pen. In another hand, in pencil, Effie Myers and the old home place is scrawled at the top. It is stamped with Photo by E.F. Baker, Siddonsburg, Pa. It was never mailed.

In a sense I keep buying this photo again and again. Seems I cannot resist someone posing with their pets in a garden, sun streaming down on them. Effie, in her beautiful white dress and locket pendant, holding a splendid black kitty and with her lovely pooch laying in front of her, is an optimal version. She is on a blanket and seated on some fluffy large pillows, the white picket fence behind her, sun hitting it. It is as beautiful a September afternoon as any of us could wish for, even 105 years later. (Although I cannot complain, we in New York City seem to be enjoying one almost as nice today.) She has her beloved pets and is in what we will assume is the yard of the family’s old home place. However, there is a hint there of eventual change and dislocation in that note, triggering homesickness too. Where was the new homestead? Was everyone happy there too?

As I send some of these missives honoring September weekends long passed, I will be traveling far from home, in Europe. It will be beautiful where I am going, but I will be missing that fast changing September light of New York which reminds us of back-to-school in years passed and the approach of the shorter days of fall, only about a week away. I am already a bit homesick for Kim and cats and have not even yet packed my bags!

Pet Family Photo


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I fell hard for these photos as soon as I saw them. This young woman in her turn-of-the-century outfit holding her cat – who is making a piss-cat face, as we call it in this house, disdain at having been detained for the photo taking activity. The woman has one dog on her lap and her hand placed gently on the other, her affection for her pets is clear. Whoever printed this photo lightened the area around her a bit with some darkroom magic, as there is a subtle halo around her and the animals as a result. And then, not to be left out, the third dog was taken on the same bench (he required a bit of lightening up too I think) and framed together and the two make a whole family portrait. I guess they couldn’t round him up for the other photo? Whoever did it has him posed pitch perfect to create this double portrait.

The practice of matting photos this way is long gone and I am not even sure how one had it done. The one that has slipped cannot be moved back – it is not loose in the mat, although it looks that way. It pleases me that these photos will likely always be together this way. This photo has some other developing, chemical issues that have emerged over time, the silver shine at the bottom of the single dog is some sort of chemical wonk that has emerged.

Despite the need for some printing intervention, the light in these photos is wonderful – drifting down from above. Dreamy, late afternoon sun falling on the leaves and trees. This photo duo came from Great Britain and there is something distinctly British about the garden and the light. The young woman is looking up at the camera, almost shyly, still clearly the queen with her animal subjects and of all around her.

Pretty as a Picture

Pam’s Pictorama Post Post: The sheer gorgeousness of this image just appealed to me, cat-less though it is. I believe that eBay suggested that I might like it and I do. The whiteness of the clothes in that halo of sun – an idealized afternoon in the country, an attractive group of people posed complete with the handsome and faithful looking family dog. The card originated in a place called Hamilton, Canada (which appears to be in Ontario) and was mailed in 1907. It is postmarked from the place of origin and the destination, but neither postmark has a legible full date.

The back includes a note in a beautiful, neat, female hand which is as follows, Dear Cousin, Rec. your letter O.K. & was glad to hear from you. Am sorry I could not write before but will write in a day or so & explain. I am sending that piece of music by same mail. Bertha It is addressed to: Miss Jessie Brazell, 132 Lake Avenue, Medina, NY. Medina appears to be a small town in the same northern most part of New York State as Niagara and the Canadian border.

It is this kind of slice of life photo from the distant past that first interested me in old photographs. Just a window into a forgotten moment in long past time. Perfect to enjoy on a new summer day, so many years later.



Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Sometimes when I look at photos like this I wonder if someone is merely recording an event (Sam does this with the cat and the dog everyday at four and I think I’ll take a photo…) or if it is specifically set-up with the photo in mind. Considering how hard it is to catch your pets doing amusing things, even with a handy iPhone camera that can be grabbed quickly, more went into getting a photo like this than we might remember today. (I know. I have been trying to record Cookie giving Kim a ‘high five’ for weeks now – she likes to do this starfish paw in the air when she is over-stimulated and wants something. Kim say Blackie will have to learn the brother handshake to keep up.)

The dog and cat seem to be looking at something – it amuses me up that they are really the same size. If anything, it seems the man’s hand is the indication for the pets to get on their hind legs, but what are they looking at in unison? (As an aside, Cookie and Blackie are the most standing on their hind leg cats I have ever had – I wonder if this is an evolutionary trait in kitties? They like tummy rubbing too.) It is a well-composed shot and I like the late in the day winter sun here with the long shadows cast of the three of them.

The card is unused and undated, although all indications of early 20th Century. Easy to see why it survived – too bad all the names and the places are lost to us. It doubles my resolve to get that photo of Cookie however.

The Old George


Offered as a reproduction on Amazon, The Old George Hotel, in an earlier incarnation.

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: The Residents shown here are identified as Bonzo, Tou-Tou and Joseph. Silly me, I assumed the dog was Bonzo until I looked up Tou-Tou and realized it is French for doggie. So that leaves us to wonder if the cat is Joseph (my guess) and the turtle Bonzo or otherways around – or, of course, the cat or turtle could be named Tou-Tou and the dog Bonzo. Both the cat and the dog (and the turtle?) seem to be looking upward at where Residents is written – very nifty indeed.

Evidently the original Old George Hotel building dates back to 1314, although very little of it remains today – it’s ground floor knocked out to become the entrance to the Old George Mall shopping precinct. As recently as 1994 there was a restaurant, the Bay Tree, in residence – followed by the Old George Tearooms, which closed in ’09.  I gather that the building is open to the public on special occasions such as Heritage Days, whatever those might be. All this according to a BBC history site which goes on to share a short list of some of the famous guests which include Oliver Cromwell, Samuel Pepys and Buddy Holly – quite a diverse list. Pepys recorded the following in his famous diary:

Lay in a silk bed, and a very good diet…

The next day he wrote:

…paid the reckoning, which was so exorbitant…that I was mad and resolved to trouble the mistress about it and get something for the poor.

Actually, pretty tame for Pepys!  In addition, Shakespeare and his players are believed to have played in the courtyard, which had room for 50 horses. Last, but not least, Dickens mentions it in Martin Chuzzlewit. H.G. Wells has a turn in The Secret Places of the Heart referring to the Old George smoking room and he writes,

 The Old George at Salisbury is really old; it shows it, and Miss Seyffert laced the entire evening with her recognition of the fact. ‘Just look at that old beam!’she would cry suddenly. ‘To think it was exactly where it is before there was a Cabot in America!’

Of course, with the possible exception of H.G. Wells and Buddy Holly, all of this was most likely well before Bonzo, Tou-Tou and Joseph arrived on the scene and had their photo taken in the garden. (Of course, hard to tell with turtles.) No date on this photo postcard, nothing on the back. Photo postcards stopped being marketed by Kodak in 1930 although I am sure, like tintypes, they continued to be used for quite a while beyond – and since this is a promotional postcard for a hotel it could easily be much later.

In the end, I imagine it was a lovely place to stay and can see myself, drink in hand, enjoying the garden with Bonzo, Tou-Tou and Joseph and all those interesting ghosts from its earlier incarnations.

The garden at the Old George Hotel, 1928 in a photo for sale online.

Snow Day


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Happy first snow in Manhattan! I’ve been saving this one for you!

Another area I have trailed off into a bit is photos of cats in snow. Those of us who have lived with cats in the suburbs or country know that they have mixed feelings about the stuff, at best. On one hand, they love to watch it fall! For apartment cats this is pretty much where it starts and ends – although I used to bring snowballs into the bathtub for my cat Otto who enjoyed them immensely. The world as a snow dome. Few things are funnier than watching a cat try to negotiate outside in the snow – especially deep snow. They can walk on it for a second before breaking through – which eventually leads to hopping until they get to a secure dry spot. It is worth noting that none of the cats pictured are actually touching any of that cold wet stuff.

The cyanotype is the photo I have owned the longest and, I assume, the oldest of the bunch. Like many other things I have shared, it lives in my office where I see it everyday. It is backed on a bit of cardboard so I am unsure if it has anything on the back. I believe it came via Canada. It takes a moment and then you realize that it is a photograph of a good size cat clinging onto the front of a very large man. Ouch! Good thing he has layers on. Probably turn-of-the-century, but the farm probably already looked that way for fifty years – and perhaps did for fifty more.

The featured photo is marked December ’49 and I love this kid with his double-fisted cat hold. He too is dressed for the snow around him (snow shovel seems to be right behind him) and a good looking barn behind him. Boy, do they have some snow! Look how high it is on the ladder in the back. He’s got two nice looking cats and they look pretty pleased with their perch on his lap. He’s a pretty old guy today – wonder how this photo got away from him.

Lastly we have my most recent snow cat purchase. It is marked on the back 1942 John Duke & Honey.  Cannot say if Duke is the cat (my vote) and Honey the dog or the other way around. These folks had some serious snow drifts as well, up to the second floor of the house. This kid has his arms around a contented, fat tabby – the dog (dogs really like snow) is guarding them in that proud way dogs do.

I don’t know why, but these photos remind me of my own childhood – which had what probably amounts to an average amount of snow.  Still, no one can resist the thrill of a snow day.