While looking through tons of "ephemera" I've amassed over the years at area auctions, I was surprised at all the old photographs I've accumulated. Most were purchased "accidentally" - discovered in so-called "box lots" that contained other items I was interested in.
These orphan photos are both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating in that most of them are literally a snapshot into our past in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Frustrating in that no one ever took a minute to jot down on the back of the photo the date, occasion or people in the photos.
Below is one photo I stumbled upon several years ago at an auction in the Beverly, Ohio, area. Fortunately, the person who developed the negative did have the foresight to etch onto the negative "Waterford, Ohio." The exact date the photo was taken, though, is unknown.
But a close look at this old photo reveals a few important clues.
The most important is the "Waterford Commercial Savings Bank." Amazingly, The Waterford Commercial Savings Bank is still around after more than 100 years! Its website indicates the bank started in 1908. So, we're dealing with a photograph taking within the past 100 years.
There are two horse-drawn carriages in the photo - one in the foreground and one a couple of blocks down the road. Henry Ford produced the first cars in 1908, and by the 1920s most families owned a car. With no evidence of cars in this photograph, we're now looking at a time frame between 1908 and probably 1920.
Next to the bank is a sign for "F.E. Little, Dentist." I thought this would be the key to unlocking an even more precise time frame. Turns out, though, that there were a LOT of Littles in Washington in the early 1900s! So finding out more information on this dentist is hard.
On down the street is a sign for "Glines Dry Cleaning." I had never heard of the name "Gline," but the Washington County Historical Society's website actually lists a number of Glines buried throughout Washington County. There is a "Vesta Glines" buried in the "Beverly Cemetery" in Waterford Township. Was she was one of the Glines who operated this business?
Finally, the good old ice cream parlor! There's no name of an owner on the sign. It does look pretty busy, though. One man has his suit coat off, so it's a fair bet that things were warm that day.
Old photos can make for great mysteries. With a scanner and some inexpensive - or even free - software, you can easily enlarge old pictures and find all sorts of interesting details.
If you know where in Waterford this photo was taken or if you have any other information, let me know and I'll share them!