Years ago, when Milwaukee was filled with antique stores, I used to do a little shopping and A LOT of browsing. My college was located in the very heart of these shops, and I spent many hours wandering alone through old forgotten things while wondering who once owned them. If I was feeling really brave, I'd pay a visit to the basements of these places. The shop basements were dark, damp and filled with old furniture. It always felt like someone was down there, ready to jump out. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if someone was hiding down there. My main goals at the time were finding rhinestone jewelry, illustrated postcards from around 1900, and reference for my art. I bought this photograph as art reference:
I was rifling through stacks and stacks of old photographs, when suddenly I found her. I remember just staring at this image for several minutes. "Woah. What the heck is this?" I thought to myself. Here's what it is: American Gothic in every sense of the term!
The woman in this photograph wears a country house dress, sits in a chair and creepily glances up from a book. I'm going to make a guess (based on the hardware on the furniture and drinking glass behind her) that this image is from the 1930s. Although, her vintage Amy Winehouse hair is throwing me off. Who was still wearing their hair this long after 1920? Based on what she is wearing, and where I found the photo, I'm going to guess she is in a rural Wisconsin home. This woman is haunted, beautiful, and mysterious. She also reminds me of someone...
Remember Samara from The Ring? Well, I think this woman could be her older sister. They share the same hair, expression, dark circles under the eyes - they even have the same taste in clothes! I think Samara is rocking a gown from a mental hospital here, but close enough.
What is further mysterious is that this isn't just a photograph - it's a post card! Here is the back of the photo post card. It reads "This picture is pretty dark. It was taken in our kitchen."
So, the woman in the picture was sending this photo out to her friends? I have so many questions. I would be very curious to know when and where this picture was taken. The post card was never stamped, so I can't get a year from that. The handwriting doesn't contain any old school flourishes, so I'm pretty sure this is post-1900.
Take another look at her face. What kind of person do you think this was?
I'm interested in hearing the story that is conjured in your mind when you look at her.
I have a reason to think about old photos conjuring up stories. A few days ago, I was reading Kimbooly's Boo Spooky blog. There I learned about a fascinating new book: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
The book has an antique look and includes a series of haunting photographs. The author made a promo video for the book using photos of abandoned buildings in Belgium. You can watch that video on a Boo Spooky blog post by clicking Here. Kimbooly also posted a link to the author's
Flickr page. If you're into decay at its finest, you'll want to see
these beautiful abandoned mansions: http://www.flickr.com/photos/martino_/
I had a fun time watching a full screen slideshow of these photos while listening to some spooky music. An eerie instrumental fits the mood of these photos perfectly! I went with Mannheim Steamroller's Halloween album.
If any of you are like me and collect creepy old things, let me know! I'd love to see pictures of your antique finds.
I have an update since last night! My blog buddy, VainGlorySinner was nice enough to pass along another creepy photo postcard. This image has to be seen to be believed! Click HERE to see the ebay listing for it. Pretty funny, hey? I guess little girls were pretty tough in 1908. :) Anyway, if you take a look at the back of this postcard and mine, you'll notice some similarities. #1 Both photos were taken in the Midwest (no surprise there) and #2 both postcards have this mark in the upper right hand corner of the backside:
It turns out that this is the mark of the CYKO company. (Sounds like psycho if you say it out loud) Anyway, the CYKO mark can be found on postcards dating from 1904-1920s. So we know my postcard was made during that time. Also postcards were not divided down the middle (for writing addresses) until 1907. My postcard has a dividing line on the back. So this lady was photographed somewhere between 1907 and the 1920s. I learned all this postcard history here: http://www.pdxhistory.com/html/post_card_history.html
There's more on that page for anyone who wants to learn about vintage postcards.
Now that I've seen more creepy photo postcards, I'm tempted to start a collection! How great would it be to have a bunch of these images framed and on display for Halloween?