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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: May 14: Two photos of ‘People, one at a time’

May 14, 2020 Phil Kaufman

My father, Irving Kaufman (1910 – 1982), was a professional photographer who started in Brooklyn in the mid 1930s working for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He captured thousands of images of Brooklyn through the 1950s. I have recently digitized a great many of them. My father’s profile can be found here.


This week’s theme:

This week’s photos are of “People, one at a time.” Evocative, provocative, attractive, odd, sad, intense. It’s extraordinary how revealing and distinct each individual’s story can be when captured in an interesting context and with the skill of a gifted photographer. Collectively, there’s a lot to be felt and learned in the process.

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Today’s photos:

The subjects of these photos were old men back when these shots were taken. And they represented realities from much further back than the ’30s. One was among the last trying to make a living with a skill that had been made obsolete by automation. That story is still all too common, and has been since at least as far back as the industrial revolution. The other is taking part in a ceremony dedicated to a long-ago existential crisis. He’s one of the dwindling few participants still alive to memorialize it.

Urban horseshoer, c. 1935

Yes, it says “horseshoer” on the truck. He traveled with the tools of the blacksmith trade, but what little market remained was only for horseshoes. Not many people were still ordering custom-made fences, farm tools or cookware. With the horseshoe demand almost gone, maybe two or three of these itinerants could still eke out a living during the Depression by providing the convenience of home (or stable) service.


 

Still Proud, February 12, 1936

Civil War veteran Thomas Twyford, County Commander of V.F.W. from Post 987, places a wreath on a memorial to the war and its soldiers. Abraham Lincoln stands in bronze, larger than life on the pedestal, above the frame of this picture. The statue was originally erected in Grand Army Plaza in 1869, and was moved to its present site in the Concert Grove of Prospect Park in 1896.

The Civil War ended 70 years before this picture was taken. That makes this man at least in his late 80s, even if he fought as a teenager. There weren’t many Civil War soldiers still alive in 1935, and those few wouldn’t be around much longer.

Think about time. My father took this picture. He could have shared conversation and memories with Mr. Twyford. If he had, I could have heard those memories secondhand. In a certain historical sense, that puts me and millions of others around my age just two generations from the Civil War. Everyone else is just three generations removed. Is it any wonder that painful wounds and feelings from our most intense and wrenching national trauma are still with us?

An index of Kaufman’s Brooklyn posts may be found here.

Irving Kaufman’s profile may be found here.

I invite you to submit comments, memories, images of Brooklyn, and especially any additional background information you can supply about the photos posted here to [email protected] I’d also be glad to supply information about buying prints of any of the images seen here. Many of my father’s images are also available for viewing and purchase at http://yourartgallery.com/irvingkaufmanstudios. All prints purchased will be the product of professional scanning and editing.


Weekly collection 2: Photos of ‘People, one at a time’


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