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USA Florida 1940s?

When I originally wrote about this photo, I made a lot of assumptions about the men pictured, based on the tropical beach background and the way one of the men reminded me of the fictional character Gomer Pyle, a Marine.

Johnny Alexander of the blog A Prayer Like Gravity left a comment that is a more factual description of the role these men might have played in the US forces. He was able to pick up details in the photo that I had not been able to decipher, and so ignored. Johnny wrote –

I believe that these gents were members of the US Army Air Corps, judging by the uniforms (not to spoil your imagined back-story of course). My dad was in the Army Air Corps in WWII.

This is him, as a cadet:

Johnny’s very handsome dad.

Interesting thing here is that the image of these two fly-boys is reversed as you can see in the “U.S.” emblem on the collar.

The other collar insignia is the winged propeller of the Air Corps. They were either still cadets or enlisted men, as officers would have their rank insignia on the collar instead of the “U.S.”. They show that winged prop insignia on their hats which is the real clincher I think for them being cadets.

This could possibly put them in Florida, as there were a number of training bases there during the war, including Boca Raton, where my dad was for a time. 

Either way, this is probably pre-1947, as that is when the Air Force was formed from the US Army Air Corps.

I could be wrong on a few of the details here, but I’ll let you know if I come across anything else.

Many thanks to Johnny for taking the time to write this informative comment and especially for sharing his father’s photo. Please visit Johnny’s blog here.

 

From a French Seller

With that grimace and those watery eyes, this boy seems to still be suffering the agonies he experienced in the tattooist’s chair. What a face! I imagine this was his attempt at trying to look like a tough guy. I think he needs more time to perfect his mannerisms for that role, don’t you?

His tattoo is a panther, I think. Or some other type of big cat. Given the heights of tattoo art these days, this is a rather underwhelming effort. I wonder if he added to it or even had work done over it?

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This lovely strip of four photobooth photos was taken in the USA, probably around the mid to late 1950s. This strip was a gift from my blogging friend Ted. (Thanks Ted!!) For the past twelve months there have been a lot of photos, which appear to come from this same booth, for sale on Ebay.

Not only is this child photogenic but she is at ease in front of the camera. She has chosen her poses well, including a different one for each image. Or has she chosen them?

When photobooths were first introduced to the world, they were installed in photographic studios that offered a variety of add-on services. These included hand-colouring, enlargements, duplications and framing. The booths were operated by a controller who would guide the sitter through a series of predetermined poses.

By the time these photos were taken, photobooths were mostly automatic, coin operated and situated in department stores, bus and train stations or other places with a good flow of foot traffic. In the photos for sale, which I mentioned above, poses like the ones in this strip are replicated over and over again. They are rarely in a complete series like these, (Thanks again Ted!!) but the frequency of the same poses and their formal style suggests that this booth was still being controlled by an operator in the 1950s.

So where would those operator controlled booths have been? They would have been owner operated and peripatetic. Like the photobooth owned by my photobooth clown, Yo Yo, they would have been at circuses or fairs. They might also have been at special social events such as school proms, adult dances or even fundraisers. So, with her casual shirt and relaxed demeanour I would be very happy to guess that this young lady had her photobooth experience on a day out at a travelling carnival or fun fair.

I have some other photos that might have come from the same or a similar type of booth. I will share them with you soon and you will see further evidence of my theories in the poses and costumes of the sitters.

This very sweet, little, photobooth image arrived in the post unexpectedly. It was enclosed in a funny card (A man on the back of a dolphin accidentally breaks something. His friend says, “Man, you did that on porpoise!”) and was posted from the USA. My friend Ted, strikes again! Ted has sent me numerous fabulous photobooth strips, penny photos and other lovely gifts over the years. I cannot thank him enough for his generosity. He has a great eye for choosing excellent examples of my favourite photo genres and has also given me numerous booth strips in which he is the star.

Beautifully hand coloured, this image stands out for the subtlety of the facial toning and skill with which the hair and dress have been rendered. I have never before seen fabric painting that is so detailed and delicate on such a tiny photo. Every stripe of colour is precisely placed along side the next. The folds in the fabric and hem of the capped sleeves are exactly as they would appear on the actual item. There is also a slight texture in the lines that suggests to me that this light cotton dress was made of seersucker.

Summer springs to mind when I look at this picture. The style and cloth of her dress screams sun and sand. Its colours suggest the 1950s. Pretty and young, the subject looks relaxed and happy. All this suggests to me that this photo was a beachside holiday souvenir from almost 60 years ago. Do you agree?

Thanks again to Ted! You can visit his photo blog here.

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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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Enlargements of these photobooth photos are at the bottom of this post.

Here is another Parisian actor’s file card from, the 50s or 60s, for your perusal. I have not been able to find Gisele in any online files, so maybe she had no success, despite her film star style and beauty? She seems to know how to pose masterfully for the camera. Perhaps she was looking for modelling work and was already experienced in the field? The gentleman from whom I bought this series of cards was unsure of the exact extent of the agency’s remit, so it is possible she had a thriving, though anonymous career as a model?

When I purchased this card, I was unable to work out what was going on around Gisele’s ear in the second image. Now, being able to enlarge it, I can see that what might have been a small spray of tiny flowers, is actually an ingeniously designed earring. It has bead-tipped filaments that radiate, almost invisibly, out of the central cluster clipped to her lobe. A lovely effect on her dark hair, and one I have never seen before.

In the same photo, there is something of Jackie Kennedy in Gisele’s hair, makeup and clothes. Given Kennedy’s French connections, one may wonder if there is more in Jackie’s style that was fashionably Parisian, than there is in Gisele being fashionably American. Either way, she has the exemplary poise and grace of a fashion icon.

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

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photoboothgomerpyle

USA 1950s

The character on the right of the above photobooth photo reminds me of Jim Nabors, the actor who played Gomer Pyle in a very popular 1960s, US, situation comedy, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. I have no idea whether these two lads are, like Gomer, Marines but the palm tree dotted coastal scene in the backdrop lends a naval/marine feel to the photo that fits my premise.

So what is going on in this photo? It looks to me as though Gomer’s pal on the left, has seen some money fall out of the coin return slot and mistaken that for a malfunction. Gomer has reacted to his pal’s grimace by making a funny face of his own. Therefore they have both missed the fact that the photobooth was already beginnng its work. I hope these boys were not off on a dangerous mission. If they were, they at least had an amusing souvenir of their time at home.

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Above and below – Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle

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