I used to work in the vintage retail industry , first in San Francisco, then New York and then in Texas for a brief minute... In each of these places in which i worked were bins of old photos...we've all seem them.
These bins and collections are interesting... In some cases provoking a strong reaction. Some would say, " How can you sell these personal objects like this??" Some people would clap their hands over their mouths or absentmindedly touch their chins as if they were remembering something or someone from long ago. These photos are quite literally fragments of human memories belonging to those who most often no longer physically exist. Guessing can be as simple as a baby christening or a wedding and as obscure as beds in forests, men in gorilla suits or pieces of anatomy.
I love the mingling of stoic and weary victorian expressions with 1950's dinner parties, heads thrown back with laughter... random horses, spare farm houses, hands protecting faces from the sun of long ago vacations- Stuff by a certain age we've all experienced only it's not you, it's someone with a bouffant with severe brows and a lopsided cake that reads, 'welcome home Jimmy'... It's worth taking a moment to consider these unifying mini documentaries.
I ran across "Dull tool, dim bulb" to find yet another piece.... A flea market find no less... thought id share the author's account of just one of millions of fragments floating around waiting to be found and spoken for.
Anyway--..... write some history on the back of your snap shots...one day 100 years after you're gone someone will say your name aloud,
" Every picture tells a story, but this one didn't have one for me. I found it at a flea market. It is a small original glossy press photograph dated on the reverse 1951, with a brief note that the hand belonged to one William E. Cook. I never tried to find out who Mr. Cook was, nor why his apparent jail number was written in the margin of the photo. Obviously, his jailhouse tattoo had been embellished with a pen before publication to make the letters, and the drama, more clear...I knew I could find out who he was when I needed to.
Imagine my surprise a few years later coming across a different picture of THE SAME HAND in a book by John Gilmore! John Gilmore is one of those guys who seems to have been everywhere. I mean, everywhere. Name me anyone with a sleazy Hollywood connection from the last 50 years and I'll bet you Gilmore either met them at a party, slept with them or knew their murderer. He met Kerouac. He met Bettie Page. He met James Dean and may have even boffed him. He knew Hank Williams, Janis Joplin, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Brigette Bardot, Jean Seberg and Jayne Mansfield. I can't even begin to describe him to you, but if you think James Ellroy is tough, if you thought Hunter S. Thompson had a pair, if you imagine Charles Bukowski let his hang low on the pavement and scrape it a bit with each step... get a load of Gilmore. There are a half-dozen books and I have read them all. Real books though...his work is too good and graphic for Kindle.
Gilmore's Wiki entry calls him a Gonzo Journalist. True, but you might find his official website a bit more entertaining. This is some dark stuff, my friends. Be fearless...Gilmore is.
By the way, the hand gets its own page on Gilmore's site, it was indeed Billy Cook's claw and he was a no good drifter. The site has an excerpt...and leads you to Gilmore's other books. You are warned.
Anonymous Press Photograph, embellished by hand, 1951 Collection Jim Linderman "