Those with more than a casual interest in photography know about Adams, Bresson, Libeowitz & other widely recognized photographers. Their images & words have inspired me. However, these images, from unknown photographers, have also motivated me. Of the many old family photos I scanned, few had dates & fewer had names. They have prompted me to try to do a better job of documenting the images I take.
This may be one of the oldest images of The Bemus Point Stow Ferry. I can say with a high degree of certainty this was taken between 1917, the year my grandparents honeymooned & ‘27. The current Ferry was christened in ‘28. An unknown photographer documented a piece of history. It began operation in 1811 & has seen the evolution of our society. I’ve watched it all my life & now I volunteer as a pilot on summer weekends.
The woman with the hat is my fathers mother Anna Schaefer Kuntz. The middle of the 3 younger women is Ethel Kuntz. I believe the other 2 are my aunts. I’m guessing one of dads other sisters took the pictures likely taken in the late 1940’s or early 50’s. I don’t think it was intended to document style but it does. The man on the other side of the fence is a compelling component. I have no idea why they are wearing tags.
Whoever the photog was knew classic portraiture or just got lucky. The sloping lines of the children’s heights parallel the roof-line & the support column anchors the frame. I’m almost certain the tallest is my mom at about 9 making it 1931. I wish I knew who the other kids were to share this image with their families. I do know the front porch this photo was taken on.
This is another example of the classic ascending heights. My mother-in-law, Jean Yoklic Benson, is the tallest one giving the camera her full attention. From head to toe all 5 brothers & sisters are unique. The subject is intended to be the group but the girl in the window steals my attention. I’m told the photog was a roaming man with a camera trying to make a living doing family photos. Circa 1930.
This wedding portrait of Jean Yoklic Benson & her husband Don is typical of the 40’s. The original was OK but lacked balance of tones & details. This image had a large learning curve of both B/W & HDR. As my mother-in-law made wedding dresses for others I had to find a way to blend the train of her gown with their wonderful smiles. I knew B/W was challenging, but the experimenting to get this result was tremendous.
This is the oldest image from my family archive with a name. From late 1898 or early 1899 this is Anna B Parkhurst my mothers mother. I have debated about spending the time repairing the damage. The face is only slightly distorted & I see little added value to the image without the damage. As I worked on balancing the tones I realized I was working with light that was over 118 years old.
This is me & my father Delton. In so many ways he was a great example of how to live your life. We are visiting his mom, dad & sister on Feronia St. It isn’t Christmas because that is the corner where the tree always was. However, from the way I’m dressed it’s easy to see its wintertime. I always loved that TV.
Meet Philepina & Gotlieb Glausser my great-great grandparents. This is likely the oldest image I have but I have no clues as to the date or location. Their crossed arms tell me they were a strong pair. I have no documentation but this is the duo that came from Germany sometime around 1880. Does the mustache look familiar to anyone? I think I got my thick hair from my mom’s side of the family. I’m glad they chose to name me Jay instead of either of the elder males on my moms side.
This image was taken between 1917 & ‘30 before the Bemus Casino was built. The boat is a rental from Norton’s Boat Livery. I am grateful I have photographs of family & friends at Chautauqua. However, it is disappointing nobody documented the identity of these people. Few of the 100’s of images I have indicate the date & only a few have any names. If you’ve read to this point please begin documenting your own personal photos of family & friend. You kids, grand kids & great-great grandchildren will thank you.
Tomorrow, I could walk to the exact spot where this photo was taken. This is my mother Mellvinia Glausser at age 14. She is sitting in the front yard of the lakeside cottage her parents rented. As I begin my family’s 2nd century on the shores of Lake Chautauqua the photos instill a sense of gratitude, humility & connectivity to those that came before me.