Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Is This That?

A smiling young couple, seated by the steps leading up to what looked for all the world like the “Beanery”—the Bean family home at 1807 Santa Clara Avenue in Alameda, California—seemed to be the very same couple as the one I had found in another picture in Bill Bean’s unmarked collection of photographic memories. I’ve been going over this mass of photographs, over and over, stacking them every which way, trying to find matches—or at least some sort of discernable pattern—to help me figure out who everyone was.

Thinking I might be on to something, I took the two photos in question and scanned them. I was hoping that a little digital magic might help confirm the match—especially as one of the photos had that rarest of benefits: a name and a date marked on the reverse.

Once again, my Photoshop program came to my rescue. Enlarging the picture to twice its size, I was able to make out not only the numbers posted to the side of the front door—1807—but I also discovered a shy young girl hiding in the doorway.

Of course, there was no label to tell me who these two—no, make that three—young people were. What I was hoping was that I would find a match in the second photo I had scanned, because that photo was the one which, unbelievably, provided the sparsest of information on the back.

This second photo bore the legend,

March 1951
D. + J.

Of course, that was of little help—but who am I to complain at this point? While I don’t know what the initials stand for, and while I don’t—yet—have anyone in my database with a surname of McGinis, at least I know what names to bestow upon this young couple, wrapped up in togs befitting an early spring day in California.

Whether this second couple is one and the same as the first, I am not quite sure. Once I enlarged each picture, the only possible matching details I could find are that the two men both sport curly hair and tend to turn out their left foot.

Not much to go on.

But at least more than I had before.


  1. I am not sure either..although the gal has questionable taste in skirts..but that is not enough to declare them the same couple:(

    1. Yeah...about those skirts...well, I was just going to let her be country and not say anything about it. Or be kind and wonder if that was the style back then :P

  2. I see a cool camera on the stair post!

    And the old car seems like it might be similar (or even the same as) to the one in the previous "horse rider" post. The old cars from 1932-1948 or so, didn't change much in appearance - in part due to the interrupted production caused by WWII.

    If Bill Bean took the 1951 photo - he would have been in his mid-50's... so this couple is somewhat younger than he. Co-workers? Neighbors? Hmmm... Whoever they were/are, it is quite possible that any of the three are still with us today.

    1. That's what makes it almost maddening, Iggy: that those three would still be around. Oh, how I'd love to connect with them!

      I saw that camera on the post, too. I'm not too great at identifying cameras. Looks like an old Brownie instamatic to me. Shows how much I know about stuff like that...

    2. In the 1955 phone book for Alameda, a John P. McGinis is listed, living at 5921 Keith Avenue.

      That man (which may not be this one) moved to Dutch Flats and died in 2007.

      Some McGinnis's might work too...

  3. It's doubtful D & J were a couple in 1940, but it might be worth looking for all the D McGinnises or J, whichever, in the appropriate census.

    1. Well, it's a snap I won't be waiting 'til the 1950 census release for this one...I will probably be of the "forgetting" age by then...but you did give me an idea, Wendy: I can look at the city directories for Alameda and vicinities. Maybe I'll luck out and find one for 1951.

    2. Just a note: They might not be a couple. They might be mother-son...

    3. Iggy, that's a good point about that second photo. It could be either way...although I think the woman's makeup and glasses frame style translates, in my mind, to "older" only because I'm looking back at it from my vantage point of a later date. (My brain, now, is thinking, "Old fashioned" but it certainly wasn't so when those styles first came out.)

      The man certainly does look very young, though.

  4. And the two women wear glasses (similar styles) and their face shapes resemble each other. I can feel that you want these two couples to be the same. And so do I! The woman in the first photo is wearing a skirt in the same style--and length--which is definitely 50s. I think you're ready for a hypothesis!


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