vintage, nostalgia and memories


September 30, 2016

David Conover, the Man Who Discovered Norma Jeane (Later Known as Marilyn Monroe) in 1945

David Conover was born in Missouri, June 26, 1919. Near the end of the Second World War he was in California and studied photography. He was an army photographer then assigned to the 1st Motion Picture Unit. The base was familiarly know as Fort Roach since it was house in The Hal Roach Studio in Culver City, California. The outfit was unique in its makeup of personnel in that many were movie stars in uniform (Alan Ladd and Clark Cable). His Commanding Officer was Ronald Reagan. The unit was inevitably known as the “Celluloid Commandos”.


In the spring of 1945, Ronald Reagan sent David Conover to the Radioplane Corporation, manufacturer of radio-controlled miniature planes used by the army for anti-aircraft practice. The corporation was owned by Reagan’s friend, Reginald Denny, and was sent there to take pictures of Women in War Work. He moved down the assembly line taking shots of the most attractive employees. He came upon a girl putting on propellers. She had curly ash-blonde hair and her face was smudged with dirt. He snapped and walked on. Then he stopped. He was stunned. She was beautiful.

Straight away he asked her if she had a sweater with her and would she pose for him in her lunch hour. He said her response to the camera was amazing. She came alive with sure and immediate instinct. He was so excited he could hardly hold the camera steady. He must have kept his excitement to himself because Norma Jeane asked him “Am I really photogenic?” She was just 19 years old. That is how it started. David Conover Sr. was transferred to the Philippines a short while after.

Conover wrote to her many times but received no reply. When he was discharged from the army, Conover did not hear a word about Norma Jeane for many years. Meanwhile, he and his wife Jeanne were concentrating on fulfilling his childhood dream to buy Wallace Island, an uninhabited refuge from reality where he had magical camping holidays as a boy. He constructed a home and five cabins and called it Wallace Island Resort. He encouraged visitors and remained there until he passed away in 1983. He wrote several books: Once Upon an Island, One Man’s Island, Sitting on Saltspring and Finding Marilyn: A Romance.








Readers Played Important Role in Cigar Factories – Rare Pictures of Lectors Who Entertained Factory Workers from the Early 20th Century

In the early days of the lector, many cigar factory employees, both male and female, were illiterate. There was a great thirst for knowledge. Lectors read novels determined by consensus. They also read poetry, nonfiction works, and newspapers. The people enjoyed hearing about the parallel universe of Les Miserable. They also favored books by Zola, Dickens, and Tolstoy. Anarchist materials gained popularity as well.

Lectors were gifted orators; some readings might be best characterized as dramatic performances. The men and women sat shoulder to shoulder in large open rooms, rolling cigars by hand. The lectors’ voices needed to project to all corners of these spaces, so they read from atop a specially constructed tribuna or platforms as seen the photographs below.

The story of the lector ended around 1930 with the introduction of mechanized cigar production. Without amplification, the human voice could not be heard above the clamour of the machinery. As a note of interest, the Great Depression and increasing popularity of cigarettes adversely affected the cigar industry and pushed the lector into obsolescence.

A hired reader reads to cigar makers hard at work in Cuban cigar factory, ca. 1900-1910.

Lector in a Tampa cigar factory, circa 1930.

La lectura (the reading) provided an education for the workers, but it also caused friction between the workers and the factory owners. Picture taken in 1909 by Lewis Hine.

Lector reading at Cuesta-Rey Cigar Company, Tampa, Florida, 1929.

Inside of an Ybor City cigar factory, circa 1920.



37 Rare and Amazing Photographs Taken by a Schoolboy That Capture Street Scenes of Rome in 1956

For anyone living through these bleak times, it must have been difficult to comprehend just how much Italy would change in the course of a decade. From the late 1950s to the early 1960s, Italian society was transformed by an economic boom so strong it was dubbed a ‘miracle’.

These rare vintage photos were taken on a visit to Rome in August 1956 by photographer Allan Hailstone when was a schoolboy. The photographs give us a glimpse into everyday life in Rome in the mid-1950s.
"Generally speaking, I have omitted many pictures I took of monuments unless they show something of the age, e.g. people, cars, trolleybus wires, etc."








September 29, 2016

Camping in the Old Days: 20 Fascinating Color Photographs of Travel Trailers and Motorhomes in the 1950s and '60s

Modern-day travel trailers trace their origins to gypsy travel wagons and the Conestoga Wagons built to carry settlers across the United States. Created out of Americans' love for camping and automobiles, the motorhome is born.

In 1910 the first motorhome, Pierce-Arrow's Touring Landau, debuts at Madison Square Garden. A back seat that folds down into a bed, a chamber pot toilet and a fold-down sink are a sensation, but the whole idea of a "motor home" doesn't catch on.

In the 1930s, auto coachbuilders continue to tinker with motorized homes, but high sticker prices keep public demand low.

Following WWII, innovative thinking restarts the motorhome industry on a small scale. Expensive luxury items, motorhomes remain far less popular than travel trailers.

In the 1960s, following the creation of the country's interstate highway system, traveling to remote wilderness areas becomes easy. Companies like Winnebago begin manufacturing motorhomes on a massive scale, driving down the cost.








21 Amazing Vintage Photographs That Show Evacuees the Measures Being Taken in London in 1939 to Prepare for World War II

As bombing raids attacking Britain's cities increased during World War Two, thousands of children were uprooted from their families and sent to the safety of the countryside. Many found, however, that life away from home was no picnic.

The evacuation of Britain's cities at the start of World War Two was the biggest and most concentrated mass movement of people in Britain's history. In the first four days of September 1939, nearly 3,000,000 people were transported from towns and cities in danger from enemy bombers to places of safety in the countryside.

Most were schoolchildren, who had been labelled like pieces of luggage, separated from their parents and accompanied instead by a small army of guardians - 100,000 teachers. By any measure it was an astonishing event, a logistical nightmare of co-ordination and control beginning with the terse order to 'Evacuate forthwith,' issued at 11.07am on Thursday, 31 August 1939. Few realised that within a week, a quarter of the population of Britain would have a new address.

William Vandivert photographed for LIFE from the late 1930s through 1948. In 1938 he moved to work in England. In 1939, World War II was declared and bombing started in London, Vandivert appeared and captured the evacuations of civilians. Here are some of his amazing photographs:

Children being evacuated out of London during the outbreak of World War II.

A bus converted into an ambulance in preparation for war.

People painting white circles on trees in the event of a blackout during air raids.

A soldier and his family having lunch in a park as war preparations go on in the background.

A bus converted into an ambulance in preparation for war.



Iconic staff portrait from Microsoft's early days, Albuquerque, December 7, 1978


Microsoft’s founding employees gathered in 1978 to take a portrait before the company moved to Washington. Front row (left to right): Bill Gates, Andrea Lewis, Marla Wood, and Paul Allen. Middle row: Bob O’Rear, Bob Greenberg, Marc McDonald, and Gordon Letwin. Back row: Steve Wood, Bob Wallace, and Jim Lane. Not pictured is Miriam Lubow.

Picture taken at Royal Frontier Studios, Albuquerque. Copyright Microsoft, who distributes the image in some press releases. (Source)





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