Brooklyn Boro

Kaufman’s Brooklyn: World’s greatest daredevil

May 22, 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.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Even with a long stretch, it’s hard to tie these last two pictures to each other. Kids playing a game usually for grown-ups in one, with a grown-up doing something foolhardy, more like kids, in the other? Not really. Opposites: Kids tucked away quietly out of sight, grown-up putting himself on bizarre display? That doesn’t work either. How about this: two interesting pictures that I happen to like with people having fun in very different ways. That, and Irving Kaufman behind the camera, are the common ingredients.

World’s greatest daredevil, undated

The car has “World’s Greatest Daredevil” painted above the windows, and “HELL Drives” down below. The license plate may have been a casualty of one of those drives. I can’t tell you where this is or who this is. I can’t tell you why the gentleman in the business suit (times have changed!) actually considers this fun, but why else would he have gotten started in this line of work? With a Whelan Drug store in the back left, and a distinctive brick wall across the street, can anybody figure out where this is?


Kids at cards, mid-30s

Apparently undistracted by a nearby photographer, these kids are enjoying a card game in this out-of the-way spot. City kids often had to use makeshift sites for their play areas. In fact, this shot was in the same batch showing kids playing ball in the rubble-strewn lot between two buildings. I wonder what this card game is. It’s hard to be sure, but if you zoom in it looks like simple seven-card rummy. Is the standing boy waiting to play winners?


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 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: Real winter.”

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