We at The Oakland Press asked readers to share their historical photos taken in the Pontiac area and once again, readers were more than willing to share.
The most recent historical fascination on our part is the novelty of the roving street photographer. What would likely be met with mace and personal protection orders nowadays in our increasingly introverted and camera phone-saturated culture was met with excitement (and maybe still a tad bit of irritation) in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
Previously, Waterford resident Wrenetta Stack, 85, got the ball rolling by submitting two photos to The Oakland Press. Her photos show her mother, Cleady Green, and grandmother, Lena Hayes, being caught somewhat off-guard by a street photographer while walking along Saginaw Street in front of Chase's Department Store sometime in the early 1940s.
Waterford resident Evelyn Davidson, 88, sent in a photo of her father, Henry Davidson, walking along Saginaw Street in front of Neisner’s sometime in 1942. She doesn’t know when exactly the photo was taken, but said that she remembers her father, who had a farm on Opdyke Road, was a frequent visitor to the city.
It appears the street photographer set up shop on Saginaw Street between Huron and Lawrence streets. Grand Blanc resident Jim Brown sent in a candid photo of him and his family taken in the same location as Davidson’s father.
In the picture are Brown’s mother, Olive Brown, 34, his sister, Mary Agnes, 1, Brown, 6, and his grandmother (and Holly resident) Agnes Haddon, 60.
|Little Jim Brown and Family|
Brown noted that the photographer must have been present at that spot for a while because of a similar photo he mentioned.
“The picture-taking must have gone on for quite a while because at a funeral (on Aug. 3) I saw a picture of my wife’s uncle and his bride-to-be taken at the same spot,” he said. “It had to be 1946 or later because he had been a POW in Germany until the war ended.”
Another photo submitted by Nelma McKinzie, 76, shows her standing in front of Neisner’s on Saginaw Street as well in 1955, when she was 18.
“I remember it being a really nice place back in the 50s,” she said. “It was clean, it was a nice place to go to shop, it wasn't like it is today.”
Kim Vorhes submitted a photo of her grandmother, Virginia Ball Foster and Foster’s sister-in-law, Mildred Foster. The photo was taken sometime in the 1940s downtown.
|Virginia Ball Foster and Mildred Foster|
There's something peculiar about a street photographer running around, taking photos and handing out a card to his subjects with information on how to pay for and receive it. The only place I'm ever hit up for a photo and asked to pay for it later is Cedar Point.
But it does say volumes about the novelty of casual photography in that day. That, and these photos aren't posed or staged in any way; these are real people who walked the streets of Pontiac years ago, going about their business or frittering away their days just like you and I.
Well, maybe we don't walk Pontiac streets as often anymore. But they're trying to change that, right?
This next one doesn't seem to be a roving street photographer looking to make a buck, but we could be mistaken.
Waterford resident Robert Reynolds submitted a photo of his uncle, John Spehar, who owned a newsstand in front of Walgreens at the corner of Huron and Saginaw. The photo was taken sometime in the early 1950s.
“I am very familiar with the downtown area back then as I worked for my uncle when I was 11 years old selling the Pontiac Daily Press as well as the Detroit Times, Free Press and Detroit News,” Reynolds said.
He said his uncle ran the newsstand to help make ends meet after a tragic loss.
“Uncle John came from a very large family and with their mother passing away at a young age, he contributed to the family to help pay living expenses.
Got any pictures of you and your friends hanging out at your favorite spots in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and even ’90s? Send them to us. Send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to The Oakland Press c/o Andrew Kidd, 48 W. Huron St., Pontiac, MI 48342.