One day I found an old photograph at a local flea market from around 1900 of a train wreck. It was so cool seeing all the men wearing bolo hats and looking on at the pile of twisted metal that I just had to have it. Little did I know that that one image would get me started on a collection of photographs that has since blossomed to include; Photo Albums, Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, Tintypes, Negatives, 35mm Slides, Stereoviews, and a whole host of photographic mediums.
Back to the photo album of the trip to India. I was not so hot on photo albums back when I first started collecting photos but my whole perception changed when I opened that photo album. The very first image was of 2 men and 2 women at an opulent 1930s bar with the bar tender standing on. The men and women were all decked out in 1930s attire, the women in gorgeous gowns and the men in tuxedos. They were all turned towards and toasting the camera with martinis in hand, and the caption read “The night before our trip to India 1938”. The image reminded me of The Shining when Jack Nicholson was in the barroom full of ghosts how cool is that?
I discovered page after page of interesting photos, and I discovered that the album was telling a great story. The second page started the trip with a cool image from the deck of the steamship. The photographer was looking down at a dock full of people wishing a happy Bo voyage. As the album progressed there were some more images of New Jersey from the ship as it steamed towards India, and other images of the deck of the ship, but that’s not the interesting part of this story, I’ll get to that shortly.
Those people visited many areas in and around India but when they got to Bombay with old two wheeled carts being pulled by the native population, a snake charmer, a Swami, the hotel where they were staying, and all kinds of other people and places, things started to really get interesting. As I turned the pages I could see that the album layout was well thought out and was telling a story.
As I carefully turned the pages, I turned to a page with one of the women all decked out in a Pith helmet, Safari pants and shirt, and holding a big gun. I stopped in my tracks and had to take a second look. She was standing over a rather large dead tiger, and with one foot resting on it in triumphant victory! There were native Indians and elephants moving around in the background and the whole image had an air of excitement. Now I don’t condone the killing of animals just for the pleasure of doing it, but that image conjured images of Teddy Roosevelt charging off on some great Safari of his own, and represented the values of another far off time.