Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sepia Saturday 2/20/10

Happy Saturday again, folks! I’m back with some of my dad’s photos he took during a trip in 1939 to see the New York World’s Fair. In case you didn’t know—I certainly did not—the fair’s theme that year was “Dawn of a New Day,” & with “the eyes of the Fair…on the future,” it focused on “World of Tomorrow.” Interestingly, to me at least, none of the photos I have show the fair itself. Until I see some other photos when visiting my mother next month, I can’t say for sure whether this was just “luck of the draw” on the photos I received or if my shutterbug dad actually didn’t take photos at the fair. That seems rather unlikely.
The fair ran from April to October in both 1939 & 1940; this pretty well dates my father’s photos to September 1939, since he wrote “Fall ‘39” on the back of each. He was one of 44 million visitors to the exhibition, which has since been memorialized in such diverse works as Alfred Hitcock’s Mr & Mrs Smith, E.L. Doctorow’s World’s Fair, & Aimee Mann’s Fifty Years After the Fair—just to name a few.

The shots of New York City my father did capture say quite a bit about his interests. Both the photo of the Henry Hudson Parkway & the photo of the George Washington Bridge are structural, & my father was most certainly a builder at heart. He built everything from houses, boats & cabinets to clocks, wooden marble runs (I forget the German name for these), limberjacks, & whirlygigs or windmills (the wooden contraptions with a propeller that can be a man chopping wood or a woman churning butter). In fact, he was accepted to the Colorado School of Mining with the intent of obtaining an engineering degree, but was unable to attend due to his family’s poverty. There’s little doubt that he had the mind of an engineer.

The photo of the boats on the Hudson shows another of my father’s most keen interests—boating, & especially boating with the intent of fishing. I have never known anyone as obsessed with fishing as my father! He continued to fish until he was around 90 years old in fact, by this time having relocated to Florida & fishing in the Gulf. One upshot of this was that my family ate inordinate quantities of fish when my sister & I were growing up, & neither of us cares much for fish at this point! He used to talk about sailing when he was stationed in the Phillipines during World War II—one of his pleasant war memories, & one of the few that he’d talk about. He also built a wonderful boat that we used for fishing & waterskiing & pleasure rides—it was called the “Off We Go,” driven by an old 30-horsepower Evinrude outboard motor.

Hope you enjoy the photos!


  1. I actually enjoy fishing, too, but haven't in ages. Funny he fed your family so much fish that you can't eat it now!

  2. Hi Willow: I eat fish occasionally, usually only when I'm near the ocean. I don't believe my sister eats fish at all. We both like shellfish, however.

  3. Great Photos John.Thank You.
    The Pictures are all the poignant because of the date(1939)The Calm Before The Storm
    Have A Fine Weekend Sir!

  4. I did enjoy the photos, a lot. How sad that your dad was unable to afford the education to pursue something he seemed to have such affection for. Thanks for your comments, too.

  5. I certainly enjoyed the photographs. And I am learning so much about America from reading all these posts. I keep using the word "fascinating" in commenting on the various posts - but that is what it is - truly fascinating.

  6. Very nice photos, and a great story to go with them. My father and I both liked to fish, but he didn't get to do much in his later years. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  7. What an excellent name for a boat! I suppose the wild blue yonder works equally as well for the sea.

    Interesting that the World's Fair of 1939 would be looking to the future. I wonder what the exhibits were like. Funny to us now, I'll bet.


  8. Hi Tony, Meri, Patty & Alan

    Tony: How true--also the calm before his personal storm. You have a good one!

    Meri: Yes, I do think it bothered him, tho he never talked of it. I heard about it from my mother. Thanks!

    Alan: You & Kat came up with a good idea in this Sepia Saturday concept--lots of fascinating stuff to see & read!

    Patty: Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Hi Kat: The Off We Go was a fine boat! He later sold it for a Boston Whaler, which also was a good boat, but didn't have the character! There's a good article about the '39 World's Fair on Wikipedia here. I borrowed from it for this post.

  10. I did enjoy the photos!

    And I must say, this is the first time I've ever heard of someone enjoying their service in the Philippines!

  11. The top photo here I know I've seen in other films, as well. And co-incidence? I uncovered a snap from the Henry Hudson but more of an "on-the-move" shot...wish I could scan it in! And so glad you have the dates to go by ;)

  12. Your father was a lover of life, that's for sure. From your description, he was a natural creator of things, a builder. Is this where you get your talent for building pictures from words, I wonder?

  13. Oh I did enjoy them. Thanks for sharing, John. :)

    I love pictures of bridges...

    And my dad used to take me fishing, too; in an old green row boat.


    Ha. My word verification is 'coment'.

    To comment, spell 'coment'...or misspell comment! ;)

  14. Hi Megan, Subby, Martin & Ginger

    Megan: I believe the only part he enjoyed was his little sailboat! Glad you liked the photos, & thanks for following here!

    Subby: That top photo does look like something you might see in a film. He actually took two of the parkway overpass; the other one's pretty interesting as well. I'm also glad for the info I have about the photos!

    Martin: Yes, for all his inner demons I think he did love life more than the opposite. I certainly don't have his mechanical aptitude, which was formidable, tho I did a fair amount of woodworking &, as I like to call it, barnyard carpentry. My dad was also a gifted story teller, so maybe I inherited that!

    Ginger: Your comment about the old green rowboat made me remember the old green rowboat my dad built--it was eventually washed away when our property flooded in the late 70s following the remnants of a hurricane coming up the Connecticut River into Vermont; & that memory sparked another Helix poem, so thanks!

    & thanks, of course, for your "coment"!

  15. Nice photos - I love the harbor shot!

  16. Hi Stephanie, & thanks! I enjoyed your post as well.

  17. Yes, I did enjoy your pictures very much!

  18. Hi Rhonda: Glad you enjoyed them, & thanks for stopping by!


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