I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Shorpy Photo blogs aren’t normally my thing, but I found one while browsing Time magazine’s “Best Blogs of 2010” list yesterday morning that intrigued me. Shorpy features vintage photos from the 1850s to the 1950s. It is named after a young Alabama coal miner named Shorpy Higginbotham (1896-1928).

I’m always drawn toward blogs that are named after people from the past who are relatively unknown, but the blogger finds a way to make that person known by bringing one of the subject’s qualities or features to life for us. Years ago, a blog called The Boileryard, named after dead-ball era player Boileryard Clarke, fascinated me. The blog was about politics, but it came at the subject from a political viewpoint that largely doesn’t exist any more – much like the dead-ball era. Sadly, The Boileryard no longer exists now either.

But now I have Shorpy.com. Shorpy, the coal miner, died in mine accident at the young age of 31, but his way of life lives on in photos. I found two there yesterday that drew me in.

The first one shows Chicago commuters moving around the railroad yard in 1907. I lived and worked in Chicago for three months in 1990. In the 83 year gap, not much, and nearly everything changed. While the streets look much sparser than they were in 1990, everybody in the photo has the same look I remember – heads down, focused, ready to take on the challenges that face them. The style of dress is much higher than it was in 1990. Every person in the photo I can see is wearing a hat – even the lone guy sitting above the railroad yard who is reading a newspaper. It’s a perfect snapshot of a bygone era.

The second one shows an Omaha liquor store in 1938. The store has one out of place sign that says, “Drink Coca-Cola,” surrounded by ads for gin, scotch, beer, grain alcohol, wine, whiskey, and snuff. There’s a root beer sign mixed in as well, but it doesn’t tell customers to drink its product. It’s simply says, without saying it, we have root beer, if you really want it. Two of the street signs intrigue me. One one street, a sign says “Parallel Parking” and on another, a sign says, “Diagonal Parking.” No such signs exist in Omaha today that I’m aware of. Somebody on Shorpy.com says the intersection where this photo was taken no longer exists either. At least we have the photo.


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