Riding the Big Bear

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I have a general rule that if I see any early photos of people riding or posing with giant stuffed animals I just have to own them – pretty much regardless of condition and price. I admit to paying up for this one, despite the underexposure and probably some additional fading over time – its origins probably in a wash pail of dirty and over-used developer, decades ago. Kim has already performed the miracle of Photoshop on it and it is about 40% better here than in person.

I have the impression that the person selling it believe Mickey’s presence to be the come hither factor (and I have nothing against that nice, early Mickey next to our girl except that we can barely see him), but for me it was this splendid big Steiff-like bear she has climbed aboard that does it for me! Oh to live in a time when one had a choice of posing for a souvenir tintype photo with oversized Felix or Mickey – or riding an enormous black cat or bear! Gee whiz, those were indeed the days. (And still again I ask, why do none of these giant toys turn up so I can purchase them? Unfair fate!)

This photo is another tiny guy – only about 2″x3″ and tucked into this nice cardboard frame. It would be better shown if I was willing to take it out, but I love the little holder and removing the photo would destroy the now fragile holder. You cannot see it here so well, but it has a cardboard stand on the back so the photo can stand up on those cardboard feet you see. On the back, written in clear script in pen, it says, Esther from Erica Lee. There’s something a bit odd about that – why is Erica sending photos of Esther? Perhaps she is her mom?

Despite the lack of giant toys available to pose on or with, I tend to embrace every opportunity to have a souvenir photo made. I don’t especially like photos of myself, but for some reason photo booths and other like opportunities are different and fire up my imagination and desire. When at all possible, I drag my ever-patient and handsome mate into the picture. In addition to the link for this early blog kick-off post, Pam’s Pictorama Blog Debuts, I supply some long ago photostrip of photos below.

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Tintype

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This is a tiny tintype which sat on my desk at the Met for many years. It almost was lost in the shuffle when I left – it had been turned over and stuck under something, but luckily one of my colleagues, Morgan, found it and sent it to me. I was very pleased to have it back and realized that, in a casual sort of way, I had been looking at it more or less every day for many years now. I believe it was given to me by a friend at the Central Park Conservancy, when I was first developing an interest in early process photography.

It is a nice scene, this long ago gathering under these lovely trees. The group is posed but there is something relaxed about them. Because of the nature of these singular images on metal, there is a lot of information even on this tiny one, only about 2″x 3″, a sliver of a picture – the snapshot equivalent of its day. Tiny though it is, this photo transports me to a different time and place.

One of the strange things about leaving a job after a long time is the things that you have accumulated in a more or less unconscious way are now piled in boxes, suddenly out of context, while you try to decide what is necessary and what fits into your new space, and to some degree new life. My office now is smaller than my former office and the folks at the new place tend to do all their meetings in conference rooms – each named for a jazz legend – rather than in each other’s office. (I now spend my days muttering about trying to figure out if something has moved to Lady Day, or if we can fit that many people in Jelly Roll or not – or where is Monk? And really, this is probably nicer than, I’ll meet you in 5A or 4B seems to be booked, but like so many things it is a learning curve.)

Some items moved without question and immediately to my new digs, such as the one-of-a-kind little wooden box Kim gave me which I featured in my post Kim’s Elephant Box. There is a lamp with a base made of old, black dice and the tiny, but nicely made plastic animals my friend Eileen has given me. Early sheet music of Pussy Foot Rag and Me-ow finding their way to the walls and slowly replacing a bad painting of a dog and some photos from the prior resident. However, at least for now, my beloved but fragile Happy Life Toy, in all of it’s gentle celluloid glory, has not yet found a perch in the new office. Since I find this toy has a calming effect on me, I might want to find a spot for it there soon.

Felix Featured on Tin

Type

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This is an area of my collection that I realize is perhaps a bit obscure. I have a clutch of these tintypes, about a half dozen, of people posing with Felix. Unlike the photo postcards, the tintypes (which rarely turn up on the market, I can’t say I find one every second year or so) are almost universally poorly developed and dark. They usually cost a mint – so someone else, somewhere in the world must also like them – and I pursue them ruthlessly. I do not think there is a single one in my collection I haven’t had to really pay up for. They hang, as a group, in a small hallway where the light is on infrequently and therefore they remain in almost constant semi-darkness.

Still, the window onto the past these provide is irresistible to me. It is that perfect moment when the Felix craze was on, but tintypes were still the photo of the day. Clothing styles are a bit earlier and everything a bit older and more romantic. Two couples, or is it three? All arms linked, hard to tell. Everyone dressed to the nines in their best outfit splendor. The women’s shoes drive home that point – and the luxe fur collar on the one woman’s coat. The men seem a bit self-conscious, especially the chap in the middle who is holding Felix up. They remained somewhere, in a drawer, an album or on a shelf, a treasured item – as they are to me today.

 

Merry Christmas from Seth

 

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I have said it before and I will say it again – I am a very lucky girl! This great photo booth picture was a gift from my bro’ in-law, Seth Deitch. He posted it on Facebook a while back and seeing my enthusiasm, framed it up in this fantastic setting and sent it off to me where it sat under my proverbial (only) Christmas tree, waiting for me. Yay! I was hopping up and down when I opened it up.

In an odd way this photo immediately reminded me of one already in my collection, below.

tintype 1

Kim has done wonders lightening this tintype a bit. It is in rough shape and dark in the way that poorly developed tintypes are – the fixative never full set or rinsed. Nevertheless, it was so strange and interesting I purchased it. It is like a photo of a kid from another, somewhat but not quite similar planet rather than just the past. I believe it is European. The little boy is dressed like the archetype of a wealthy child from a certain period – short pants, but expensive coat and clothes in general, the beret at a jaunty angle, carefully placed. In addition to the faux Mickey I love the bear wearing the nice straw boater.

By contrast the kids on the top photo are wonderfully brash and look like they probably wandered into this photo booth at Coney Island or some place like it. The big brother, who would give his sister a hard time often, but on this occasion was the one to whip out the needed quarters to have this snap taken, his arm casually thrown over her shoulder. How lucky that she has her Mickey with her. They aren’t clearly wealthy like this earlier kid, but man, they’ve got the world on a string, they do.

Thank you again Seth!