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USA Late 1950s

This young woman looks serious about her camera and to my twenty-first century eye, she looks like a professional photographer. Yet, despite its elaborate appearance, the camera is a budget, amateur model, called the Yashica-A. It was released in 1956 in various colour bodies and leatherette finishes. With its striking side flash-unit, perhaps for some, it also acted as a fashionable accessory, as much as a useful tool for a hobby?

This fresh faced girl is unremarkable in so many ways but there is something in her direct gaze at the camera and that half smile that makes me think she was quite formidable. I cannot see her aspiring to be a wife and mother, which most young ladies of the 1950s were taught to see as their life’s path. I would love to know what photos she took on the day she made this booth photo. Did she have her own darkroom? Are those photos floating about on an online auction site or being discussed in a photography forum? Perhaps they are still being loved and cared for by a family member?

Her crisp white shirt looks very smart in its simplicity and compliments her make-up free, jewellery-free and tousel-haired style. I’m almost positive she would have been wearing a neat pair of shorts with capacious pockets, perhaps to hold the light meter, some spare film and bulbs for the flash?

An interesting feature of the Yashica-A is that, like the much older box Brownie cameras, it features a waist level view finder. Many of you would know from long past family members, that you hold the camera down at tummy level to compose the shot, rather than holding it up to your eye. Both the photobooth image and the ones below, show the view finder open and ready to go.

She probably had the light meter in its leather case tucked into her pocket.

I bought this marvellous American photobooth image from Australian-American artist, writer, curator and publisher Damian Michaels. In some of his work, Damian uses vintage photographs as his canvas. In looking for images that resonate with him, he buys groups of photographs, possibly using only one or two for his pieces. I was recently the lucky recipient of a group of photobooth photos he could not use.

Showing how the camera was/is used.

The photo above is from the blog Zinc Moon.

1970s USA

Here we see two best friends in a photobooth having a fabulous time together. Their closeness is undeniable. In the second and third photos, the girl at the back cuddles her friend, who reacts with a spontaneous burst of dimpled joy.

The marker pen scrawlings of graffiti on the background curtain add something to the feeling of time and place of the strip. It suggests that this booth was in an unpatolled public area, somewhere like a railway, subway or bus station. Department store, bowling alley or night club booths never get this shoddy treatment.

Why, oh why, is this photo in my collection here in Australia? Why is it not being treasured by one of the girls or at the very least a member of their family?

Maybe there are some visible clues as to what happened? The strip was folded twice at the end of each photo, to make it easier to slip into a purse or handbag. That tells me that the photo was valued enough on the day it was made, for the owner to want to be sure it arrived home unscathed.

On the back, there are remnants of the sticky residue that is left from those dreadful, photo-destroying, self-stick albums of the 1970s. That suggests that the value of the images extended well beyond the day they were made.

There is a crease across the bottom of the strip. How could that have happened? If the girls had had a falling out, the owner of the strip would most likely have torn it up or thrown it out, not just randomly bent one edge. Could the crease be accidental and have happened when the album was being looked through? Those self-stick albums age in one of two ways. Either the photos are permanently fastened to the pages (oh, the horror!) or they slide out and end up all over the place. Some might fall on the floor or table. Others might be tucked carelessly back inside where they could easily be squashed and buckled.

Or could the strip have fallen on the floor and been used as a bookmark, until such time as it was replaced in the old album or a newer one? In that case it could so easily have been forgotten. Books tend to be given away or sold more often than other household items. I have been given some photobooth photos by a friend who found them while browsing in a charity shop, so that is my preferred theory. It consoles me to think that they were accidentally parted from the owner, not deliberately sold off due to apathy or avarice.

I’m sure you have heard such theories from me before. I hope anyone who reads this post, treasures their family memories and treats them with the love and respect they deserve. No more orphaned photos please!

I love this handsome, kind looking, older gentleman. He has a sanguine face and a gentle smile. There are some remnants of sadness in his eyes, as he has seen his fair share of trouble throughout his long life. However, he always pulled through it with a renewed sense of optimism and hope for the future.

This small photobooth photo comes from the USA and probably dates to the mid 1950s.

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As some of you will know from reading my About Me page, I have a health condition that makes my life quite difficult. I struggle to sit up long enough to do a post on many days. On other days, I am just too fatigued to even try. Therefore, I really love it when someone enjoys something I have posted, enough to do some research on one of my photos. Brett Payne from Photo-Sleuth blog has done just that for one of my previous posts in the series The Actors’ Agency.

In Part 9 of the series, I introduced Gisele Salvador, an aspiring actress, or possibly model, from Paris. Brett found a Gisele M Salvador who married a Ronald E Kahn in Dade County, Florida in February 1959. His source was Ancestry.com. Could it be her?

My reply to his comment was, “I suppose it could be her, but remember she was living in and looking for work in Paris around that time.” Having assumed these photos were taken in the early 1960s, I stated that there was no reason she couldn’t have married an American in his home town and then moved with him back to France, or even had a very short marriage before returning to her country of birth. Of course there are many other possibilities, too, but I did think the likelihood of Brett’s Gisele and my Gisele being the same woman, unlikely.

Brett was undeterred and did some further research. In another comment he wrote, “There is a tree for this family on Ancestry.com, too. Ronald Elwin Kahn (1941-1977) married Gisele in 1959 at Alachua, Florida, and they had at least three children. The eldest son appears to have died there last year.” (2016) This was great information, but I still wasn’t convinced as there was no evident French connection.

Bravely, Brett worked on. He found an entry in the US Social Security and Claims Index which shows a Giselle/Gisele Marcelle Kahn, who was born 26 February, 1929 in Paris, France. She was the daughter of Jose Salvador and Marcelle F Perrin. “She must be the same person who married Ronald E Kahn in Florida in February 1959.”, he wrote. By this time, I had to agree.

“It appears she was married a few times, as the Social Security Index shows the following:
Oct 1959 – Name listed as GISELLE MARCELLE KAHN
Feb 1968 – Name listed as GISELLE MALLORY
31 Mar 1989 – Name listed as GISELE POLLACK”

So what we now know is that this beautiful, young woman married a very lucky American citizen, named Ronald Elwin Kahn, early in 1959. He was twelve years her junior. They were married in Florida and she apparently lived in the USA from then on, albeit with different husbands. It does strike me as odd that she was 30 at the time of her marriage and her husband only eighteen, but stranger things have happened. (That is of course assuming that his birthdate of 1941 is correct.) The date of her marriage suggests to me that the photo file-card, and these photos, date to a time prior to her knowing she was going to be leaving France, to live elsewhere. Assuming she was looking for work for some years before she met her future spouse, the photos must have been taken at some time in the mid 1950s and probably no later than 1958.

Brett also found out that Gisele became a naturalised US citizen on 9 January 1967 in New York and that she died on 8 May 2003 in Suffolk, New York at the age of 74. She was born in the same year as my mother. It is sad she has already passed on. My mum is alive and kicking, I’m very glad to say!

So a very big thank you to Brett for persisting with his research. I hope that someone from Gisele’s family will now be able to find this post and see these wonderful photos. Please thank Brett, too, by visiting his wonderful vintage and antique photo, history blog.

There are some other great photos in this series to come, and some previous posts you might enjoy browsing through.

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This is part five of a series of photobooth strips of the same American boy. For each year that there are photobooth pictures in this group, I have estimated his age. In these photos I think he would be 13 or 14 years old.

With an unusual hat and ill-fitting jacket, the young extrovert of earlier photos is still in evidence. He is still showing some joy at having his photo taken, but not nearly as much as in earlier photos. Rather than a lumberjack coat, this time he is wearing a lumberjack shirt.

Do you think his mother bought the jacket two sizes larger than needed, as mums do in the middle of these growth spurt years? Or could the jacket be his dad’s or a hand-me-down from an older brother? I imagine this boy to be an only child due to his appearing in so many photos without a sibling, so do not particularly like the hand-me-down hypothesis. And what type of hat is that? I have no clue!

To see the other photos of this young man, please click here. And while we are at it, you could click here to see another long series of photos of a girl called Becky or here to see another girl growing up in a photobooth, Donna.

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This is part four of a series of photobooth strips of the same American boy. I estimate that he would be 12 or 13 in these photos.

There has been a gap of three and a half years from the time the last photos in this group were taken. Our young man is looking more grown up and acting that way. Gone are the crazy faces and comical poses. The photos suggest a growing maturity but happily his inner comedian is still there. You will see what I mean in the next post, as we continue to follow his progression from boyhood to young adulthood.

To see the other photos of this young man, please click here.

 

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This is part three of a series of photobooth strips of the same little American boy. My estimate is that he would be 9 or ten in these photos.

I wonder if the first strip was deemed unsuccessful, resulting in the second one being taken with a different background and a properly adjusted seat? I like the way the second strip shows a progression from not quite ready, to small smile, to bigger smile, to wide eyed grin. We can still see the cheekiness and spirit on show in previous strips, albeit slightly toned down.

Having been taken on the same day, he is wearing the same lumberjack coat in both strips. Being slow to pick up on fashion trends in those days, this style of boy’s clothing didn’t make it to Australia until the 1970s. It is a trend that is currently being revived in some retail outlets today. Blah! But I digress! It is interesting to me that with a less reflective background, his hair looks much darker and by adjusting the seat he looks older than in the first strip.

To see the other photos in the series, please click here.

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