Other people’s memories can be purchased for as little as a quarter at antique shops, flea markets, and estate sales across the United States. I’ve been collecting “found photographs” for almost ten years, mainly in the form of vintage snapshots that date to the 1920s through the 1970s. Generally the photographs are shot by everyday people with amateur equipment with an eye for recording an event, moment, or object rather than an artistic composition. When digging through shoeboxes full of snapshots I look for certain subject matter including cats, examples of fashion/style/outfits, Chicago architecture and landmarks, photo booth photos, and arcade photos that feature a painted backdrop. I’m also fond of scrapbooks, yearbooks, and anything with a quirky handwritten caption. Found photos appeal to me because they’re a glimpse into the lives of everyday people and they’re small, affordable pieces of history.
Every week I’ll be sharing my collection here for Found Photo Friday and on Instagram using the hashtag #foundphotoalliance. In the future there will also be interviews with fellow collectors, reviews of books featuring snapshots, and guest posts.
Today I’m sharing the album of Betty, a WWII sailor’s sweetheart. I purchased the album a few months ago at a local flea market from an avid Chicago-area collector, Ron Slattery of Big Happy Funhouse. I was drawn to the anchor emblazoned album and the cheeky captions scrawled on the back of the photos by Betty.
The photos in the album date to 1942 – 1944 and based on the captions they were sent from Betty in Chicago to her husband Bob.
“I’m sticking my tongue out haha at Irene not you honey.”
“Taken in March 1944. Bob and Bets. This is the one and only picture I have of Bob and I together since we were kids”.
“This is me standing in front of the gas station you used to work at. Boy do I ever look tall there huh honey? I’ve got the blue shirt you sent me, how does it look? Sept 1943”.
“I’ve got Rose Marie’s new fox fur coat on– It makes me look like a bear huh?”
“Here I am, all dressed up and no place to go– darn! There’s veiling over my head to keep from breaking my camera–any objections– over ruled ha ha”.
“This was the clearest one of all. taken 4/11/43, Sunday at 5:30 PM on Michigan Ave. Sure wish you were on that bench with me, darling”.
“Betty the 2 week waitress at a closer view ugh! I’ve got my hair upswept and I don’t like it– Do you? This picture is too serious–Gosh. I didn’t even recognize myself ugh!”
“See that sign not bad eh? Kinda windy out today very windy in fact.” Center: “I’m sitting on a wheelbarrow honey. I only wish I was as happy as I look when you come home darlin’ I’ll be happy again.” Left: “I’m eating a banana here cause I got hungry. That’s Michigan Blvd in the background honey.”
“July 3, 1943. How do you like my new white skirt and colored blouse? I haven’t any stockings on either kid just leg makeup on– looks real don’t it?”
“I’ve got the purse you sent me in my hand honey– you like– no!?”
(Middle photo): “This is me honey believe it or not. The suns in my eyes, darn! I couldn’t keep my eyes open! That’s how I look tonite, dog tired!”Right: “This is me in Dad’s car taken in Lisle, Illinois October, 1943”.