Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sepia Saturday - The Park Bench

A Sepia Saturday Suggestion

Here we have a photograph of three benches.

Two of them are empty. One seats three people, all reading newspapers. That bench is full, crowded even.

What does that tell us?

The Bench

Whether located at the bus stop, in front of the barber shop or on the footpath through the park, it's a most convenient place to rest, read or just watch the people; it's the bench. A bench is a benign bit of furniture, found in waiting rooms, entry halls, depots and basketball courts; best of all, public parks.

Rustic or modern, iron, wood or concrete, stand-alone or attached to a picnic table, a bench is essential for outdoor lunches, modeling sessions or just waiting.

They're background, almost invisible, that is, unless you need one, then there they are: right where they should be.

Here are benches, some playing the lead, others just back-drops, some essential stars, some bit part players, but always on stage.

This week we will look at that under-appreciated and over-worked essential, the Bench.

Ramona with love, Lupe

1944 Kalisch park bench
Greta knew.
Of course he'll be attending college.

Peggy My Pal
Why are these girls sitting on the ground? There's a perfectly good bench behind them.
Girl on the roof

Child standing on bench
Pair on a bench
One Girl, New Dress
The bench is away back here on the left.

Lunch Break
Girl at park bench 02
One Guy Two Gals

Joyce on a Bench 1938
CDV pair
Couple with shadow

Girl on a balcony
Personal Pinup
group at the beach
One woman with street lamp

Two friends on bench 493
Two guys on bench 993

Couple on bench with dog

The rest of the BENCHES on this page all come from one set of photographs with a very interesting story.

Holli Photobooth

Here is one of the happiest faces I have found in a long time. She is in most of the photographs in a "found" batch of 116 old prints. They date from the 1940's and do tell a bit of a story.

Since all of the photographs were unidentified I had to make up the names "Holli" and her friend "Thelma” for the two who appear in most of the prints.

They have glamorous smiles and lots of clothes. She just looks like a "Holli", maybe “Hollywood”. She dominates a set of 116 pictures found all in one bunch from an estate sale in Johnson City, New York. I posted the whole set originally in August of 2008.

There are lots of landmarks, lots of people. Someday I hoped, someone would recognize something and at least establish a location.

Then, in June of 2009 I found another batch of photographs from an estate sale in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can imagine my moment when I saw “Holli” again looking up at me from the stack, about 400 miles from the first group and ten months later.

Holli and friend L970

I was able to coordinate some of the photographs by means of the photo lab’s series stamps on the reverse of many of them. Others matched in physical details of the prints. Six photographs, unrelated in any other way, have a light red stain at the edges showing they have been stored in the same place for a long time and thus linking them together.

A few of the photographs in the Pennsylvania batch must have been taken on the SAME ROLL OF FILM as the New York batch. And from the clothing and locations, obviously some were taken the same day, perhaps only minutes apart.

So now there are 63 more photographs of our Holli, her friends and her time. 179 in all.

One thing stands out in the Pennsylvania group. There is ONE photograph with a date on the reverse. November 22, 1943. Holli stands on her toes to give her man in uniform a big smooch. It must have been a special moment for them.

Holli with her soldier

In the FLICKR set I have designated each item as New York Source or Pennsylvania Source in the tags to show where each photograph was found. In addition I have noted the origin in some of the captions.

Our Holli was a popular girl, perhaps a USO volunteer. She loved the beach and the sun. Her bright smile probably made her an instant friend to anyone she met.

Look carefully at these photographs. What do you think is the story?
For a look at the entire set, go to HOLLI AND HER FRIEND THELMA
For a slide show of the entire set go to THE HOLLI SLIDE SHOW

Holli and friend L970
Holli and friend on bench 493
Holli Poses w bench 998
Thelma in a dark two piece bathing suit white trim on a bench 993

Friend on grass - no number
Holly and two friends bathing suits 993
Holli in bathing suit w 2 guys 993
Holli w grass skirt friend 361

Thelma, black suit white trim and guy 993
Holli and Friend act 361
Thelma in white at beach L858

Holli with Thelma at park bench L655
Picnic 361
Holli on bench L858

Holli on a bench L970

I suppose you think this is the end.

Well, it is.

Picnic Holli bends 361

Girl on bench

So go back to the Sepia Saturday list and see what else you can find.

Or maybe you'd prefer just a list of all (well, most) of the categories and subjects and album pages in LOST GALLERY! Well, here it is!

A to C

Advance to the Rear The Rear View
Aircraft – Biplanes
Aircraft – Connie, the Lockheed Constellation
Aliens and Mystery – Area Fifty-One and a Half
Animals – Gone to the Chickens
Animals – The Pets by themselves
Animals – Posing on a Pony
Area Fifty-One and a Half – Don’t Look Now
Automobiles – Car Bumpers
Automobiles – Car Running Boards
Baby Buggy
Beach – Itinerant Beach Photographer (page 01)
Beach – Itinerant Beach Photographer (page 02)
Beach – The Old Days
Beach – The Slide Show
Beach – The Girlfriend
Boys in Dresses
Bumpers – Car Bumpers
Cabinet Cards
Camera – Photographs containing a camera
C'est la Guerre – Photographs about the wars
Chain Chain Chain – People doing the same things
Chair, Fringed
Chair, One Armed
Chickens - Gone to the Chickens
Children – Boys in Dresses
Children – A Child on the Front Steps
Children - Girls and their Dolls
Children – Kid in a Tub
Children – Mobile Toys
Children - On Running Boards
Children – Slide Show
Children – Trios - In groups of Three
Christmas – in found photographs
Cities – Unknown Street Scenes
Class Pictures – School Days!
Clothing – Bows
Clothing – Costumes
Clothing – Cowboy Outfits
Clothing – Boys in Dresses
Clothing – Furs – The Dead Animal Society
Clothing – Grass Skirts
Clothing – Hats
Clothing – Jodhpurs
Clothing – Saddle Shoes
Clothing – Sailor Tailored Fashion
Clothing – Swimwear – At the Beach
Clothing – Uniforms – Girl & her Guy in Uniform
Clothing – Uniforms - Our Man at the Front
Connie, the Lockheed Constellation
Couples – A Girl and her Guy in Uniform
Fake Fight

C to P

Fringed Chair
Furniture and Props – One Armed Chair
Furniture and Props – Props and Backdrops
Furniture and Props – The Fringed Chair
Furniture and Props – Wicker
Girl in a Boat
Girlfriend and the Car
Girlfriend at the beach
Goat Cart
Gone to the Chickens – Snaps including a chicken
Grass Skirt Gallery
Groups – Chain Chain Chain – People lined up
Groups – Class Pictures
Hats – Where everyone is wearing a hat
Hats – Really Big hats
Homes – We Call it Home
House – Our House
Itinerant Street Photographer
Itinerant Photographer With PONY!
Laundry – People and Clothes Lines
Music – Trombones
Music Makers
Novelty Photo Booth – Collection
Novelty Photo Booth – Examination
The Office Typewriters and business
On a Bumper
On a Car
On a Rock
On a Running Board
One-Armed Chair
Parade – Parties, Parades and Picnics
Parties – Parties, Parades and Picnics
People Stacks
Personal Pinups – the best girl. (Page One)
Personal Pinups – the best girl. (Page Two)
Personal Pinups – Girlfriend at the beach
Pets – The animals by themselves
Photo Mask
PhotoBombing – Pranks to ruin a photo
Photography – Photographs containing a camera
Photography – The Photo Mask
Photography – Tinted Photograph
Photography – Polaroids
Photography Errors – Lurker
Photography Errors – photographer's Shadow
Photography Errors – The Double Exposure
Photography Errors – Unauthorized Photographs
Picnics – Parties, Parades and Picnics
Places to Go - More about where than who.
Places – Our House - With people in front
Places – We Call it Home - More houses
Pony – Posing on a Pony

P to W

Poses – Advance to the Rear!
Poses - Belly Down, Heads Up! (A really odd pose.)
Poses – Cheesecake
Poses – Fake Fight
Poses – Girl in a Boat
Poses – In a Tree
Poses – Kid in a Tub
Poses – On a Bumper
Poses – On a Car
Poses – On a Pony
Poses – On a Running Board
Poses – Out Sitting on a Rock
Poses – People with Signs.
Poses – Personal Pinup
Poses – The Rear View
Poses – Sleeping people
Poses – Stacks of People People on People
Props and Backdrops
Rock – People out sitting on a rock
Running Boards - Automobiles
Running Boards with Children
Saddle Shoes
Sailor Tailored Clothing
Signs – People posing with signs.
Sleeping People
Sneaky Snaps–People not posing at all
Telephone - About telephones and operators
Things – Typewriter – A Modern Antique
Things – Telephones
Things – Watermelon in the picture
Tinted Photograph
Toys – Children and their Mobile Toys
Toys - Girls and their Dolls
Transportation – Aircraft
Transportation – Automobile Bumpers
Transportation – Automobile Running Boards
Transportation – Baby Buggy
Transportation – Biplanes
Transportation – Lockheed Constellation
Transportation – Wheelbarrow
Tree Thing
Types of Photographs – Cabinet Cards
Types of Photographs – CDV (Carte-de Viste)
Types of Photographs – Photobooth
Types of Photographs – Polaroids
Types of Photographs – Tintypes
Typewriter – A Modern Antique
Unauthorized Photographs – Sneaky snaps
Uniformed Man – Our Man at the Front
Vehicles – Biplane
Vehicles – Lockheed Constellation
Vehicles – Wheelbarrow
Washday Blues – Of Love and Laundry
Wicker Chairs
Wicker Furniture
World War One


  1. So many benches to chose from I feel a need to sit down. Now where is there an empty bench. I am amazed that you have so many.

    By the way, your link on the SS page does not work.

  2. Thanks for the heads up. I tried to fix it but it still doesn't work. Oh well.

  3. How extraordinary that you found the two sets of Holli and her friends so far apart, and well done for linking them. Just the sort of story to intrigue an inveterate photo-sleuth. There are quite a number of snapshots taken in some kind of park with backless benches and low-clipped hedges, apparently on more than one occasion. The fact that there are numerous other people walking in the background suggests the park is public, and in one of the shots there is a building in the background. Wherever it is, I guess it's likely that Holli visited frequently.

    There's also a shot of Holli and friend sitting next to a pond, the background suggests a town or cityscape, with an unusual spire in the background. Perhaps someone will recognise it.

  4. Thanks Brett Payne. Spoken like a true photo sleuth.

    I have not been able to pin down the location other than where I found the prints. And that is little indication as you know. Junk dealers and estate dealers juggle and shuffle and move items around from place to place, shop to flea market.

    The photographs are 70 years old. Maybe that is why the backgrounds are hard to identify. They would have changed a lot.

    Someday there will be a breakthrough.

  5. Wow. So many benches. Think I will need to look again and make sure that i don't have a suitable photo for this week!

  6. A terrific assemblage of benches and a fascinating photo mystery. Holli and Thelma are clearly a lively pair that makes the USO idea a good fit. The separation of the photos might have been divided up between the two young women, or much later they got sold in an estate sale or auction and were split then. I recently found several photos that had become lost in that way, but I found the original auction house sales listing on a web search which had a more detailed explanation of the photos history than my seller knew.

  7. Thanks Mike Brubaker. My guess also was that the two groups belonged to the two principals in the photographs. They would have been in their 90’s in 2008 when I acquired the sets. I tried to backtrack to the original sellers but met a dead end on both of them. I have found more than once that some dealers are so protective of their sources that they clam up even if they have any information.

    The photographs are in three places on the net; perhaps someday someone will recognize something.

  8. Those park benches could telll a dfew tales I'm sure. An enjoyable collection as ever.

  9. Thanks Little Nell. Hm, they could couldn't they?



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