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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: June 12: Two photos from ‘Not an ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets’

June 12, 2020 Phil Kaufman
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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:

Last week we had a look at “An ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets.” What’s appropriate for this week? “Not an ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets,” of course.

A timeworn definition of news has it that “Dog bites man” is not news, but “Man bites dog” is. Similarly, ordinary street scenes, like last week’s, generally weren’t newsworthy for the Eagle at the time my father took them. Therefore, he didn’t leave much information about them. This week’s not ordinary scenes, on the other hand, are more likely to be newsworthy, and most of them come with notes that my father sent to the Eagle.

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

I hope that adds an extra level of interest: the pictures themselves plus their back stories. Just to keep us on our toes, however, there are still a few with little or no information and, because the scenes themselves are unusual, the lack of information is all the more frustrating.

Today’s photos:

These last two photos for the week show variations of sights shown earlier on. Both capture not only a non-ordinary event on the streets, but an obstacle preventing the streets’ normal use. Odd scenes can be endlessly fascinating, especially when captured by a sharp eye.

What about trees and wires? undated

Another house move, this one with no information and with a daunting road ahead. Though bigger than the brick house that appeared in an earlier post this week, it’s probably not as heavy. But three stories high makes for an extra challenge. Unlike the brick house, which was just low enough to slide under some wires, this is too tall to fit under anything in its path. It’s not just tall, but also wide enough to fill the whole street, and probably even wider than some streets, challenging the navigator. I’m sure my awe is partly due to inexperience with challenges like this, but I’m hardly alone there, so I hope many of you also find this awesome.


A shadowy crash, c. 1940

Another crash, another car on its side. Remember the auto safety campaign photo published earlier this week? I hope it was a great success and these wrecks my father preserved were exceptions. I hate to call a crash scene a lovely sight, but I have to say the long shadows make this picture easy on the eye. Unfortunately, after enjoying the image out of context, other thoughts push through. Is the ambulance still there because someone is hurt? Did these cars, clearly heavier than the ones in earlier pictures, do more damage? Were they going faster, with stronger engines and smoother roads, than cars ten or even five years earlier? Progress has a price, but is there an alternative?

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 All prints purchased will be the product of professional scanning and editing.

Weekly collection 6: Photos from ‘Not an ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets’

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