Wednesday, September 14, 2011
1899 PHOTO -- MAN AND HIS FRIEND
In the photograph above dated 1899, sits a man and his friend -- his arm on its back like they were best of friends.
He brought it to a studio to have their picture taken together. Notice the sign (difficult to read) that he placed on his friend. I have a feeling that his "friend" was a squash or pumpkin that probably was a county fair winner and the man was so pleased about it that he took it to a professional photographer.
And why do I assume that it was a professional photographer? Because of the hand-painted backdrop that is behind the man and his friend. Backdrops like these were popular in small studios during the late nineteenth -- early twentieth century.
The sign on the pumpkin or squash says that it is 122 pounds in the year 1899. I cannot make out the long name except that it starts with an "S." It could be his name or perhaps an heirloom variety name.
I found this old photo in a box with many others about twenty years ago in an antique store in Williamston, Michigan. It was one of those large, about 8 X 10 cardboard's, with the photo pasted on the cardboard while leaving about an inch of cardboard border. Sometimes you find names on the backs of old pictures. This was not the case here. Its back was blank.
You might wonder why I call this very large pumpkin or squash this man's "friend" Well, I just thought it was a bit strange to include a squash or pumpkin with the presumed owner in a photo taken professionally. Perhaps it was a cultural folkway in 1899 to do so?
It is difficult to understand folkways sometimes when time has passed, in this case one hundred and twelve years.