Hole in the Clouds
Oct 24, 2009
The babe in arms in this picture, Gregory Stein, recently started his freshman year in engineering school at Cornell. His parents are Miriam and Eugene Stein; Eugene is Norman's first cousin.
The urchin in front here is Joe, baby Gregory's second cousin. Joe is currently a music student at the University of Alabama.
Sep 11, 2011
"Some time in the 1950s, probably in Decatur, Illinois." That's the baby boomer, stomping away.
Nov 12, 2011
Friday was Veterans' Day, but in these pages we have yet to catch up with the holiday from almost a fortnight ago: Halloween.
I kept good statistics this year, and the number one costume at my door, far and away, was Scream. Not the scream pictured here–I don't know who this baby is, just some poor child out alone on the web–but the vampire sort of monster Screams, with identical masks that must have been a really good bargain at Dollar General on 23rd Street. Six Screams got candified here on Kater Street.
As for the non-Screams, we noted:
- 2 unicorns
- 2 generic vampires
- 2 zombies
- Super Girl
- a soccer player
- Wonder Woman
- Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt
- a jester
- "a guy from a TV show I like"
- "a skateboarder who had a wipeout"
- a baby
- a bumble bee
- a vampire
- a ladybug
- Hello Kitty
- a nurse
- a construction worker
- a boxer
- a ninja
- a princess
- a monster
Feb 23, 2012
He had a balloon and an inflatable Popeye, but still the 1938 Rice Festival Parade in Crawfordville, Louisiana, just lasted too long.
Some of the signs in the store window appear to be advertising items of clothing for 10 cents, or even 5 cents. That can't be right, but I have no alternative explanation.
Give that baby some spinach, and he'll come round.
(Image credit: Russell Lee, Farm Security Administration, via Shorpy)
Jul 10, 2012
Above, a contestant in the 2010 Hampton Roads Tattoo Expo in Hampton, Virginia, with her baby; below, back view of a contestant in a 2009 Tattoo Expo in Taipei, Taiwan.
Aug 27, 2012
Kaspar Maldre, looking wise beyond his weeks.
Sep 1, 2013
Back in June, baby Summer was a four-pound preemie whose days blurred into nights tethered to the beeps and wires of an apnea monitor.
But by mid-August, when she left Philadelphia to begin life with her adoptive family in a village 50 kilometers north of Amsterdam, Summer was fat and happy and paying attention to the world. That's what a summer on Kater Street will do for you.
Sep 12, 2013
Baby Kaspar woke up bright and early–6 a.m.–on his first morning in America. His jetlagged parents were not pleased. No doubt, they hadn't slept quite as soundly as he had during the long flights from Estonia to Chicago.
His grandmother was happy to retrieve him from their room, even at 6 a.m., but Kaspar wasn't so sure about her. He complained. He complained more loudly. So she took him outside for a long walk.
Outside, life was good. Kaspar found pebbles and then some pebbles and after that some pebbles. But back in the house again, where his parents were still trying to sleep, he remembered his distress. His grandmother wasn't his mother or his father. He ran from her.
When she got near, he told her to go away. Loudly. If she came nearer, he ran. This went on till he'd reached the far end of the house, up against the back door, where he could run no further.
There were cushions there on the floor, new pads for the garden furniture, and so it came to pass that Kaspar lay down in the doorway and curled up and went back to sleep.
And his grandmother? "I just sat next to him," she said, "and laughed at this world."
(Image credit: K. Maldre)
Mar 9, 2014
Dressed perfectly for an outing to the Philadelphia Flower Show, and willing to pose for a picture if the photographer's really, really quick.
(Image credit: Little Fuji)
May 25, 2014
When last we glimpsed young Kaspar in this space, he was a mere babe, a bit timid and in need of a nap. Now, less than a year later, he regards us with a bold, steady gaze, wide awake and prepared to tackle any challenge. Yes, he's still in diapers, and yes, he's in his jammies, but hey. The man's got tools.
(Image credit: K. Maldre)
Jul 10, 2014
On Friday, baby Summer celebrated her second Fourth of July. Her first was in Philadelphia; this second one was in Warmenhuizen, the small town in North Holland where she now lives with her family. People in Warmenhuizen don't wear red, white, and blue on the Fourth, but Summer's shoes recall her American roots.
(Image credit: Manja H-D)
Aug 11, 2014
(Image credit: Fuji T)
Nov 5, 2014
Shorpy tells us the hundred-plus-year-old glass plate that produced this photo is something he bought on eBay. Apparently, nothing is known about the image, except that it features photographic technology, and perhaps also props and fashion, that date it to approximately 1910.
The brand of the stove, Peninsular, suggests the location may be southern Michigan or northern Ohio.
All in all, what we've got here are two unknown people in an unknown kitchen, taking a moment from their unknown lives to look us right straight in the eye, from the distant shores of the early twentieth century.
Note that they've been saving old newspapers up on top of the cabinet.
Nov 2, 2014
Baby Jake catches Game 7 of his first World Series, along with mom Caitlin. It's educational for Jake, we're told; as young as he is, he might as well start learning that the good guys don't always win.
(h/t: Janet Goldwater)
Jan 3, 2015
Lila Mae Helmke was 23 years old in 1936 when she appeared in this family portrait with her husband Bill, their son Allen, and her husband's brother, whose name was not recorded.
The photographer, Russell Lee, noted that the family all lived "in a one-room shack on a ninety-acre farm near Dickens, Iowa, owned by a lawyer."
We don't know how long Lila Mae and her family lived in that shack. But she and her husband had been born into farming families in Palo Alto County, Iowa, in the early years of the twentieth century, and they had been educated in country schools there. When they married in 1934, in the depths of the Depression, prospects for American farmers were nightmarish, even in places like northern Iowa, where the topsoil was three feet thick.
We have no record that the Helmkes ever owned any farmland. But they were farmers, and they stuck it out, trying to make a go of it somehow or other, for the first seventeen years of their married life, till Lila Mae was 38 and Bill was in his mid-forties.
In 1951, they gave it up and moved to town. They settled in Ruthven, Iowa, about seven miles east of the farmland near Dickens, where they had been born and raised.
By 1951, they had two nearly grown children, Allen and his younger brother Elton, known as Butch. Both boys would grow up, marry, and raise their own families in Ruthven, and they were still living there in January 2006, almost seventy years after the photo was taken, when their mother's death at the age of 92 was reported in the the Graettinger Times newspaper. Husband Bill–William August Helmke–had died in 1976, when he was 69.
Once the family had moved to town, Lila worked as a substitute cook at the Ruthven Community School and cleaned houses and the Ruthven State Bank.
She enjoyed sewing, gardening, and cooking, according to the obituary writer, and loved Jackie Gleason, Red Skelton, and The Price is Right.
The cat in the photo may have loomed large in her life: "She always had a family pet," wrote the obituary writer.
The smiling young man who is holding the cat in his lap, however, is lost to time. The photographer noted only that he was Bill Helmke's brother; we don't know his name, and Lila Mae's obituarist did not mention him at all, not in the list of survivors and not in the list of the predeceased. He looks of an age in 1936 to be called off to war just a few years after sitting for the family portrait, but even that detail is beyond our knowing.
Lila Mae Helmke
(Image credit: Russell Lee via Shorpy)
Jan 2, 2017
Baby Robin, almost five months old now, is our most adorable grandbaby by far. Also our only one, though this year and next are bringing many, many new babies to the wider family, each of them at least as adorable as the next.
Baby pix are sure to show up here, but in an effort to distinguish these pages from the pages of Facebook, at least some of the time we'll try to pretend that there are other subjects worth looking at ....
(Image credit: Bonnie Strelitz)
Jan 21, 2017
Fixin to fly.
(Image credit: the phone)
Jan 25, 2017
Notes from the Office of War Information, December 1943: "In the evening, Hugh Massman and his wife fold diapers. Joey's bureau drawer crib is moved to the side of their bed for the night."
The Massman family lived in Washington in 1943 while Hugh, a petty officer in the navy, attended a specialized training program. Photographer Esther Bubley spent a few days with them for a feature story about military family life.
After the war, the family returned home to Montana, where they had seven more children.
World War II
Hugh, Lynn, and Joey Massman
(Image credit: Esther Bubley, via Shorpy)
Mar 24, 2017
You know what they say: yes, it looks impressive, but the fact is that Allen probably beats his niece two games out of three.
(Image credit: the phone)
Jan 18, 2018
Pushing a baby stroller at sunset, across a frozen lake near Lahti, Finland.
(Image credit: Kai Pfaffenbach for Reuters)
Apr 2, 2018
man and woman
(Image credit: Margarita Sikorskaia)