January 19th, 2009

city hall 1880's

Old Stuff

I've been trying to sort out my mom's collection of old photos, which have gotten totally jumbled over the years. I did this a few times before, and they've always ended up de-sorted within a short while. I guess this would be another advantage to digitizing the lot of them. Nobody can de-sort the pictures on a CD or DVD. Also, more than a few of the photos have gone missing over the years (relatives are not to be trusted.) Nothing needs to go missing if it's on a disk, since unlimited copies can be made.

An awful lot of the pictures are tiny contact prints, though, with 2.25x2.25 images. Most of these are black and white, and a scanner might not be able to do much with them. There are also many faded color prints, which will require digital manipulation to restore them. I don't yet have the hardware to do all this stuff, let alone the software. Even sorting them is a fairly daunting task.

There are identification issues with some of them, and my mom's eyesight is no longer good enough for her to always be able to tell who is who. This would not be an issue with my dad, who can see just fine, but unfortunately he had a fit of anti-nostalgic madness of some sort (I know nothing about it other than what my mom has told me) many years ago— before I was born, I believe— and burned most of his old photos. I've always wondered what was among them. I guess I'll never know. Yeah, my family is weird.

Ready-made photo fun can be had at Flickr user harmonbuck's photo stream. It's a collection of pictures of silk banners for movies. These were versions of the usual attraction posters for movies, but printed on silk and hung from the marquees of theaters. I might have seen a few of them when I was very young, but have no memory of having done so. The practice seems to have died out ages ago, and all the photos uploaded so far are of banners for movies of the 1930s and 1940s. I find them vaguely sad, in a way that ordinary lobby posters are not.

This evening the sky was edged with lavender, and streaked with gray clouds. That high pressure system that's been hovering over the desert is letting go. It will finally get cooler here. There might even be rain by Thursday. I'm happy for the grass, but know the feral cats will not enjoy the change.

At Google Books I stumbled on the digitized version of bound volumes of an early 20th century magazine called The American City, which are full of articles about such subjects as public parks, street cleaning, drinking fountains, street lamps, and other concerns of municipal authorities. There are photos, of course, and all sorts of oddities, such as an item about a contest for what the secretary of the Grand Rapids, Michigan, Association of Commerce called a "civic hymn" for that municipality. I'll put the article, with winning lyric, behind a cut.

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