BACK TO PAUL AND THE OLD DAYS in the interests of local history. He outranked the Torka Brothers, who arrived on the scene before War I, commercialized their work heavily via picture …
BACK TO PAUL AND THE OLD DAYS in the interests of local history. He outranked the Torka Brothers, who arrived on the scene before War I, commercialized their work heavily via picture postcards—but being German, moved on as the town’s Fort Worden achieved prominence and the U.S. moved into the war. Paul was my neighbor, about two doors away, on Morgan Hill back around World War II. He continued working from his home during his retirement years. I mention all this because as a long-time photographer and lifetime collector/publisher of local history, I’ve seen a large assortment of photos of and within Fort Worden—and this one by Paul is one of the best. Looking south past barracks, over part of officers’ row, at Morgan Hill and the point that is sort of a juncture of Admiralty Inlet and Port Townsend Bay.
The wonder of its day in the photographic world 109 years ago was a 1910 baseball photo taken by Richardson with his antiquated equipment. It was said to have been the first-ever stop-action photo of its type ever taken. Copyrighted and titled “Caught Off Third.” it was displayed in poster form throughout the country. The ball was pictured just short of the glove of Frank “Rah Rah” Revello, third baseman of the Port Townsend Colts semi-pro team, who was about to tag the runner. If you have my second volume of Port Townsend history, it is on page 445. (I also knew Frank well back in the ‘60s; he was another of my links to olden times.)
Jan’s family, the Klockers, also have been near neighbors of mine, here Uptown, about a block away, for 50+ years. Her father Walt died Feb. 10, 2018, at age 98. Walt, incidentally, also pursued baseball zealously during much of his life, but playing opportunities were sporadic. He is pictured in my same book of history as an “old-timer” in a 1953 game at Memorial Field (page 439).
Prior to Richardson’s beginning in the early 1900s was professional photographer James M. McMurry, who was on the scene at least by the mid-1880s and whose work illustrated the local community on into the ‘90s. James G. McCurdy, local historian/author, also began adding illustrations to the scene about 1900, along with a photographer named Wilcox. The earliest photo I have of Port Townsend (in the mid-1860s) is by an unidentified photographer.
A few other professionals flashed on and off the scene over the early years, but not much of their work remains to give them any historical prominence. Today, cell phones make everyone a photographer of sorts, but few have the artistic touch, and little of what they record applies to the main line of local history.
There have been a number of local photographers of repute around town during my lifetime. During my early Leader years there was John Kreidler, a semi-retired old-school type from whom I learned a lot. His studio was across from that of George McCleary on downtown Taylor Street. George left town some time before I rejoined the Leader in 1954 and was replaced by Burdette Redding (whose photographic right-hand man was Claude Pray). Burdette was the town’s leading photographer for many years. Hugh and Helen Swearingen also operated a studio of sorts out of their home and did some finishing work for the Leader along about the late ‘60s. Worthy of note through some of my later Leader years was George Leinonen, a top-notch free-lance professional who worked some with me, largely on the sports side.
I was shooting action shots of the Fort Worden football team down at old Flint Field below Lincoln School around 1942, on my mother’s old Kodak roll-film “Brownie” camera. No purpose other than the challenge.
I became a press photographer and donned various other hats at the,Leader in 1954. My camera was a bulky old Speed Graphic of the type seen in use during movies depicting the 1920s—complete with the big flash-bulb unit. It was armed with a container of two sheets of 4- x 5-inch film.
Pull a slide, estimate field of focus, shoot . . . replace slide, reverse container, pull slide—shoot again if the subject is still in the neighborhood. That’s how things went for some 14 years, until I was provided a roll-film camera with an electronic flash. For production efficiency I soon assumed the darkroom work that actually pushed the captured scenes onto the printed page. You’ll find my work, without bylines, in Leader files from 1954 into the 1980s.