Among the cameras I have been collecting for most of my life, I happened to unpack this "Brownie Bullet." This camera was intended as a promotional copy of the "Holiday Flash" which was the first camera I actually began shooting with. It was distributed as a "freebie" and was given away at various retail locations. The camera was originally designed by Arthur Hunt Crapsey. It was introduced in 1957 and available until 1964. Using 127 roll film (some of you may remember film) the "photographer" could shoot 12 exposures. Made of plastic "Bakelite" it was a strong and sturdy camera for the amateur. I recently removed this camera from one of my many boxes of collectables and found it to be in very good condition. Since it is essentially my very first camera, I decided to include it in my story. Out of curiosity I removed the back of the camera and discovered a roll of film still intact. There is a small possibility that the film may still contain images, depending on how much light or excessive heat have damaged it. I am going to attempt to develop it and find out! Simple to operate by looking through the viewfinder and pressing the shutter button was all that was necessary to "snap" a picture. Hence the origin of the pre "selfie" term "snapshot." One early glitch was that the shutter could easily be released resulting in multiple exposure images. The little red window was intended to help keep track of the number of exposures remaining. The printed number would show through giving some degree of warning. I will be sharing more about my favorite cameras periodically.
This is a wonderful group photograph created in Chios. Sadly the only individual I can identify is my father "George" appearing in the foreground with a round Navy cap. I know he served in some capacity in the Greek navy for at least a few years during his early adulthood. He loved music and enjoyed singing at times. Behind him is a guitar player and a woman playing a mandolin.
Group photos are especially inspiring for me. So many individuals appearing for a moment of time, frozen almost forever. Unfortunately many of the original printed photographs once a part of our family archive have disappeared. I am fortunate to have and be able to share what will be posted here.
Chios is said to be the birthplace of the famous poet Homer. Chios inhabitants excelled in the arts including some of the best Greek sculptors. In the early 1800's there were several foreign invasions, killing thousands and forcing thousands more into slavery. https://www.greeka.com/eastern-aegean/chios/history/
Fortunately my parents and grandparents were not subjected to this. Eventually my father Yorgos (George) and his wife Paulette continued to reside in Chios for part of each year. They would travel back and forth between the U.S. and Greece often stopping over in France where my stepmother was born.
My Great Grandmother who I never got to meet but learned about from my grandmother Maria. Many of these images, especially the earlier ones often depict women wearing black or dark clothes. This was the case with my great-grandmother as well as my grandmother. Typically the cultural "tradition" was that if a close family member died, the surviving wife, mother, or sibling, would wear black for the next 40 years or so. In most cases this interpreted into their remaining life time. I never saw my grandmother wearing anything other than black since her son Gus was killed in World War II before I was born. Ironically I have always favored black and white photography and I viewed the "juxstaposition" of women in black living in around the white houses typical of the Greek islands, an inspiration.
Probably the oldest photo I have record of, sadly only a duplicate of the original image. Nevertheless fortunate to have this. I do not have much information about this photograph, other than knowing that the subject is my great-great grandmother on an island in Greece, possibly Chios. I know that she lived a very long life, I believe it was approximately 107 years. What little information I have, I recall from a conversation with my grandmother on one or two occasions. Obviously I do not have a date but I find this to be an amazing image and certainly an inspiration.
My first cameras were an 8mm Keystone and a great big box containing a tiny Kodak Brownie "Holiday Flash" and all the equipment necessary for lighting and film development. I recall jumping for joy when I viewed my first self-processed image including fingerprints, dust marks, and faded grey edges! The joy of my chemical darkroom work had begun!