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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Jamboree Mystery Photo
Posted by Maureen

I'm back from the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree. Over 1,700 folks attended the three-day event. I met many readers of this column. Thank you for stopping by and saying hello! 

As usual, I held individual photo consultations. This is one of my favorite part of going to conferences because I get to look at photos and chat face-to-face with their owners. I hear a lot of interesting family stories and see some amazing photos. This week, I'm sharing one of them with you:

Young Bob (2).jpg
Kris Robinson and her sister visited me at Jamboree to try to answer a question. They know the man in the middle of this picture is their father, Robert Robinson (born in 1917), but they wonder if one of the women could be his mother, whom the Robinson ladies never knew. This casual snapshot of three smiling people has a bit of a dark side.

Lola Cloos Robinson was born in 1894 in Illinois. Her father abandoned the family when she was young. By 16, she was on her own working as a domestic in Unity, Ill. Kris isn't sure how her grandparents met, but they appear with their two boys in the 1920 Mason City, Iowa, census. One died at 4 years of age. In 1927, the family moved to California; they lived in Los Angeles and Huntington Park from 1928 to 1932, when they disappear from the city directories. 

Robert Robinson never discussed his family history or mentioned any other relatives. He had an unhappy childhood. However, Kris' mother told her that her father Robert had come home from school one day to find his mother gone. Lola had been institutionalized at a local hospital for unknown reasons. Kris is trying to gain access to those records.

Kris and her sister have spent a lot of time discovering the details of this woman's life. Just recently, they learned that Lola had two aunts and two cousins living in Los Angeles in 1931 and that those individuals had children.

Could one of the women that linked arms with Robert be his mother? The clothing styles reflect the styles of the early 1930s especially the sailor collared shirt worn by the woman on the left; the women's calf length skirts; Robert's suit with the bold tie; and the sweater worn by the woman on the left. You can find similar outfits in Sears Catalogs of the period. This dates the photo to the early 1930s, when Robert was in his mid-teens.

This photo raises so many questions.
  • It's an amateur snapshot, probably part of a series of images. Who's the photographer?
  •  Where's the rest of the roll and who owns it?

  •  If Robert's mother was institutionalized when he was young, when was she released? This information would help determine if onf of the women in the picture could be her.
Young Bob edit(2).jpg
  • If one of the women is her, I vote for this woman. She's older than the teen on Robert's other arm. She's also wearing lipstick, which young teens in the period generally didn't wear.  
I hope Kris and her sister can solve the information riddle surrounding this woman's life. Perhaps someone will see this column and recognize Robert and the women in the photo. Anyone have the rest of the roll?

Go to ShopFamilyTree.com for the how-to books and CDs you need to research, preserve and display your family photos.


1930s photos | men | women
Tuesday, June 15, 2010 8:33:28 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
Sunday, June 20, 2010 4:40:42 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Your comment about wondering who is taking the picture is something I see missed quite often. In this case, from the shadows I would appear that there are two people behind the camera. I have seen this quite a bit with the photos in my collection, especially those taken in the early part of the last century. It would be interesting to see if there are any developers marks on the photo.
Monday, June 21, 2010 4:04:03 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Yes it does appear that there are two people off camera. I was able to look at the original and there are no developer marks on the picture.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 12:44:31 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Interesting analysis of this photo and Kris' research into the family.
I also see two people's shadows in the foreground, one appears to be a girl. They appear to be waiting and not the photographer, possibly friends or relatives.
It also appears that the older woman is the one on the right facing the photo. The very pretty woman you identify as possibly the mother seems much younger, less stout, and younger dressed, note the snazzy shoes and sweater. I think the younger one would be more likely to be wearing lipstick.
I believe the woman on Robert's other side is Lola his mother.
The pretty woman could be his futher bride or an aunt.
Julia
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 1:03:02 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
On second look at the placement of the shadows in this photo it does appear that the large wide shadow in the foreground is probably the photographer.
Julia
Comments are closed.