Selective Focus: Random Squares from Aunt Becky

The focus of this Selective Focus series has mostly been current artists and what they’ve been working on, but we also enjoy swerving into the realm of “found art.” This week is one of those times. PDD’s own Paul Lundgren fills us in on this collection.

PL: What we’ve got here is a sampling of old photographs that were temporarily stored at my house while my wife’s Aunt Becky was in the process of moving last year. I don’t know any of the people in the photos, I just pulled some out that I thought had an artistic quality. I asked Aunt Becky about them and she didn’t seem to know much of who was who or what was what in the pictures either. That’s something that naturally happens when you accumulate stuff as your elders die off. Pretty soon half of your photos are of someone’s grandmother’s ex-husband’s third cousin, etc.

A lot of times when I find an old photo and can’t piece its story together I post it on PDD as part of the “Mystery Photos” series. Some of those mystery photos have been from Becky’s collection, but the ones featured here seem to go together well as a weird batch — mostly because they are square, I guess. One of my favorite “Selective Focus” features was Bill Coit via Valerie Coit, so I guess this set of images is my attempt to compete with that.

These ladies are almost certainly working somewhere in Duluth, based on the carton of Duluth Milk Company half-and-half in the foreground and another bit of evidence that shows up in a similar photo down the line. This photo is marked “Nov 61,” but I think the dates on photos from that era represent when the film was developed and not specifically when the picture was taken.

Photos of people around a Christmas tree tend to be whole families or just kids rather than an elderly couple. There is something very sweet about this shot, dated 1960. You don’t need to know these people to like them.

This shot of the old Harrison Community Club is less of a mystery than the others. Aunt Becky’s father volunteered at Harrison a lot and almost certainly shot this photo in the summer of 1969.

No photo collection is complete without a naked kid. This one is undated; it looks like it was shot somewhere on the shores of Lake Superior.

There’s nothing particularly special about this undated photo of an unknown river, but I think it balances the mood of the collection nicely. I also like tossing it in for the off chance someone will comment on this post and miraculously recognize the river.

I think what I like about this family photo is you could dress these three up in modern clothes and put them on your couch today and anyone who looked at them would say, “What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in the 1970s.”

This one puzzled me at first. Who had a drone back in the day? Its seems impossible there would be a hillside steep enough for this shot, and what tall building would be on a dirt road? It must have been shot from a silo, water tower or antenna tower.

Car, dog, kid — all working together for our amusement.

Here are two more ladies in white blouses with a similar block wall behind them as the Duluth Milk Company gals. Because one of them is reading the UMD Statesman, my guess is they all worked at the cafeteria at the University of Minnesota Duluth. This one is dated December 1961.

This kid demands you forget all your troubles immediately.

And we close with the obligatory Lifty shot.

1 Comment

Lil Oly

about 2 years ago

The river picture looks like the Cloquet river looking west off the original Munger Shaw rd. bridge.

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