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Football pic.jpg
I spent part of the weekend scanning in some old family photos so I could label and archive them digitally and then mail the originals off to various family members. (These pictures all came from my great grandmother's photo albums and are dated from 1895 through the 1960s.) About half the pictures (and there are hundreds of them) are labeled with dates or names or locations or sometimes (yea!) all three. (Those are pretty darn rare though.) The rest are completely blank but my mother and I know most of the people and can pick them out and using the ages of the kids in the photos (usually my grandmother or her siblings) get a good date. But then there are some, like the photo above, that we are really pretty clueless about.

What's interesting about "The Gang of 164th Street, 1935" is that the handwriting for that caption on the back of the photo is probably my grandfather's. (I'm about 99% sure of that.) He and my grandmother did not get married until 1939 but he hung out with her and her family throughout the 1930s (he's in a ton of the pictures). So this group of guys were obviously his friends and with the picture in the album, they must have been friends of my grandmother & her siblings as well. (There are lots of friends who show up in the pics.) I kind of think that the one on the front row, far left, is my great uncle Thomas (one of my grandmother's older brothers and the same age as my grandfather) but I can't be sure as his eyes are closed and it's kind of a funny angle. (Plus the picture is so faded.) (I use a magnifying glass all the time with these pictures!)

But mostly all I know about this picture is that they were friends of my family, that they had a good time together (clearly playing football), and that they hung out on 164th Street (in the Bronx, where my family lived). I just love the whole idea of this group together, in their teens (my grandfather would have been 19 in 1935, my grandmother 16), having a good time. We should all be so lucky in our childhoods, shouldn't we?

And yeah, I'm keeping this one for myself. :)


A few months ago, a piece ran at Sociological Images about male affection in vintage photographs (It's here.) While the piece argued for more obvious non-hetero relationships, it also mentioned that people just were more unafraid of showing affection, perhaps, back in a more innocent time.

Not sure how innocent or un-innocent it was, but I think photographs like these always provoke us to want to go back in time, because surely, everyone back there were such great pals ... it looks like a wonderful time.

This is really interesting to me, T and I wholeheartedly agree. I have hundreds of photos from the 1930s that support this thesis - the guys always have arms around each other, are laughing and joyful and clearly not concerned about showing their affection. They are very happy pictures and I love them.

Robert Wilson

Just read your book TMMDP about flying in Alaska. I was with the FAA in Alaska while you were there... and before too. It is a great book!!! However, a bit difficult in the place name department for people who have not lived in Alaska like us. Wish you had written my book "Of Bombs, Bullets, and Armoured Cars" as your style of writing would fit perfectly with my adventures during several "little" wars that no one ever heard about.

Robert Wilson

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