Brooklyn Boro

Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Cooling off NY style

May 20, 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.

I am delighted to work with the Eagle on an ongoing project to display some of those photos. Our goal is to highlight Brooklyn as it used to be, for your pleasure and edification, as well as to pay tribute to my father’s remarkable photography. His profile can be found here.

This week’s photos are all about “Having Fun.” There are lots of different ways to have fun. What’s fun for one may be torture to another (Running — on purpose?; Monopoly — you must be kidding!). Indoors, outdoors; young, older; physical, cerebral; alone, with random others or with special others.

DAILY TOP BROOKLYN NEWS
News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Today’s two pictures have an obvious similarity, but not quite the same as yesterday’s. It’s summer in the city. It’s outdoors. It’s hot. Groups of kids manage to stay cool, one in a very strange way, the other in a pretty common way.

Cooling off NY style, mid-1930s

A way for kids to cool off in summer was with the fire hydrant available on pretty much every street. With densely constructed buildings that stifled breezes, and stuffy (of course, non-air conditioned) indoor environments, summers were brutal for urban dwellers (as they still are for many). But relief was often available from the fire hydrants, usually with adult approval, and often even with fire department cooperation. City kids took advantage whenever they could. In fact, they still do.

 


Snowballs in August, c. 1941

My notes don’t tell me exactly where or when, but this is a summertime snowball fight (albeit staged and supervised) in the parking lot of a Sears store in Brooklyn. The snowballs had been frozen since the previous winter. Stand-alone freezers for home use were introduced in 1940, with small freezer compartments in refrigerators available before that, so my guess is that this was a publicity event promoting freezers that could be purchased at Sears.

***

I invite you to submit comments, memories, images of Brooklyn, and especially any additional background information you can supply about the photos posted here. I’d 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.

The Eagle’s most recent Kaufman’s Brooklyn post was, “Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Jitterbugging in the aisles.”


Leave a Comment


Leave a Comment