Tag Archives: Chicago


I love his terribly serious expression and crooked tie.


This is a special item in my photobooth photo collection. It is always great to get a pic with an ornamental frame, even better if the frame is dated, as is this one. Making this photo even more special to me, is that it is accompanied by a detailed card that identifies the sitter, the event and the sitter’s status at the event.

On top of all that, I found inside the holder for the card, a fragment of newspaper (below) that tells us that chair-pushers had to pay for their own uniforms and that they were paid $0.30 per hour, being an average of $10 per week. Even in 1933 I would imagine that was not great pay. Given that Karl kept that bit of news, one could conclude that he was employed as a chair-pusher at the event.

The Century of Progress Exposition ran in Chicago for two seasons from 27 May, 1933 to 12 November, 1933 and from 26 May, 1934 to 31 October, 1934. Originally intended to showcase Chicago’s past, the exposition came to symbolize hope for Chicago’s and America’s future in the midst of the Great Depression. I imagine the job opportunities for young people this event offered, might have been one of the few prospects they had of getting employment during this difficult time.

Using my less than proficient search skills, I managed to find a US census record for 1940 that names a Chicago resident, Karl Ek, who was born in 1914. It could be the same Karl, as from the image he appears to be in his late teens or early 20s, fitting in well with the date of the photo. Interestingly the Karl named in the census had a sister named Winifred who was also born in 1914, making it possible that this Karl was a twin. The actual birth dates including the day and month were not listed in the report I found. If not a twin, one could imagine that he had a very fertile mother and an overly eager father. Or a very fertile father and an overly eager mother.


The card in its folder. It is embossed on the front with the title of the event. Unfortunately it wouldn’t scan well.



The International Photobooth Convention presented by premier photobooth website, will be held at A&A Studios in Chicago soon. It runs from , June 6-8, 2014.

Organisers for this year’s convention include Tim Garrett, Brian Meacham, Anthony Vizzari and Meags Fitzgerald, whose new book I recently reviewed.

Details of the programme are below. There’s a good balance of events for photobooth artists, technicians, vintage photo collectors and for the general public. All are welcome to attend. It kills me that I won’t be there!!!


Cheryl and Ted

One of the more exciting, and for me, unexpected aspects of being a blogger is the amount of enthusiasm and generosity that comes to my inbox out of the blue and from all around the world. I have recently started following a blog by Ted Strutz of Friday Harbor, Washington State in the San Juan IslandsUSA. The blog is called TedBook and has some very amusing conversational short stories that I encourage you to check out. Ted emailed me the above photos and the following history a couple of days ago –

When I lived in Chicago in the 80’s and early 90’s, there was a bar called the Rainbow Club.  It was quite large with a big horseshoe shaped bar, booths, tables and a stage, maybe a dance floor.  They played 33 LPs on a phonograph.  Kind of an artsy place.  There was a photo booth as well.  It was very popular, and I would imagine they made almost as much money off that thing as the booze.  I think it was a buck.  I’m sure they have quite a few strips that were left behind.  It was a lot of fun.  Of course that was one of the first places we took out of town visitors.

Anyway… I guess it was 1988 or so when an old girlfriend came from Sacramento to Chicago to visit me.  I had been there for two years, and although she was ‘the one who got away’ we had stayed friends.  I took her to the Rainbow Club, as it was close to the Wicker Park neighborhood where I lived and a fun place to go.  My daughter and her friends hung out there a lot, and that’s how I was introduced to the place.  I didn’t go there that often, except when people came to visit so we could do the photo booth. It is interesting to look at people in these strips and how they react to what the other person in the booth does.  It’s kind of a mini play sometimes.

We had a good time on her visit, and I eventually introduced her to a friend in Sacramento who she would later marry.  They had two kids and are still married.  I was a good matchmaker.  Interesting to note there are two backgrounds… one with photo strips, it looks like, maybe to show people how to use it, and a curtain. My other strips all have the curtain. I would say that the first one we did is the one without the curtain.  For that reason, and in the first photo Cheryl is posing with her reflection as it was the first thing she saw.  She always did ‘duck lips’ when looking in a mirror and my two tiny daughters would copy her when looking in a mirror.  They still laugh and talk about her when they do it now. The bottom of one of the strips has the corner torn off.  Those were fun times.

When I saw your blog, it reminded me of that time and I went and found them.  I have 7 of them and a strip of my daughters when they were little kids… they are in their 40’s now.  The last time I was in a photo booth, was with my mother about 5 years ago shortly before she died at 90.  We had gone to the movies and she wanted to do it so she would have a picture of us two together.

Thanks so much, Ted, for sharing your photobooth memories and your photos. Thanks to Cheryl, too.

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