Magic Lantern

Lantern Slide

A lantern slide of Skaneateles, taken from a garden on West Lake Road, by Frederick W. Martin (1877-1949), a Pasadena photographer. He opened his studio in 1907 and his wife, a watercolor artist, began hand-coloring his photographs in 1911. More than 3,000 of his photographs, most of the San Gabriel Valley, are in the California State Library collection, but at some point Martin made a trip across the U.S. and took photos in New York and New England. He signed his work “Fredk. W. Martin.” This particular slide came from a collection in Ojai, California.

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A Queen Among Us

Queen Mona

In January of 1944, Mona Ruwaldt was destined to graduate from high school as the valedictorian of her class and go on to college, but first there was a coronation. The young people of Hammond, Indiana, had collected 50,000 pounds of paper in a drive for the war effort. Mona and her classmate Doug Radicky were chosen to reign as the royal couple, the Salvage Paper King and Queen. Their photo appeared in newspapers across the nation.

Mona went on to graduate from Northwestern University with honors, followed by med school, a career as Mona Ruwaldt, M.D., and a life as wife and mother. Today, unaffected by her titled origins, she lives quietly on Lake View Circle, showing the grace of true royalty.

Mona CU

Photo: ACME Newspictures, Chicago Bureau, Tribune Tower, Chicago

Rob Howard Rarities

SCC Deckle Edge copy

Some time in the early 1980s, photographer Rob Howard received a call from Dick Schemeck, owner of the Hitching Post gift shop at the corner of Jordan & Genesee. Dick was placing an order for Skaneateles postcards in a day or two, but had no photos. This was not Rob’s usual subject matter, but Dick was a friend, and had a list of about a dozen subjects in the village that were postcard-worthy. The next day, Rob shot half of the sites on the list in the morning light, and then the other half in the late afternoon light. He recalls that the oddest request was for a picture of the social hall at St. Mary’s of the Lake; Dick explained that visiting Catholics liked to send postcards to show where they’d gone to Mass while on the road. Rob little imagined that one day his cards would show up on eBay, and be sought after by collectors. Printing by Plastichrome, Boston; love the faux deckle-edge.

krebs-by-rob-howard1

Positively Beautiful

CDV Skaneateles copy

There is something ethereal about this photograph. I don’t know who the woman is, but I have found the photographer.

Born in Erieville, N.Y. in 1860, Frank Lincoln Harris began his career in Syracuse at the age of 15. He worked for traveling photographers, apprenticed with a photographer in Cazenovia, studied artwork and retouching, then went on the road with his own portable studio, going from hamlet to hamlet, before settling in Dryden in 1884. He came to Skaneateles the next year, establishing a studio upstairs from the store of Herbert A. Livingston in “the Weeks block” (the building on Genesee Street built and owned by Forest Weeks; today’s Loft 42).

Harris Grip's Historical Souvenir of Cortland copy

Harris advertised regularly in the Skaneateles Free Press:

“For artistic work that is as fine as can be obtained in a large city, go to F.L. Harris & Co.’s Photograph Rooms.

“New apparatus, first-class material and a good operator now enables us to compete with any city photographers. Remember that we give perfect satisfaction.”

“The F. Lincoln Harris Studio. Portraits in Photography, and in Crayon, Pastel or Oil. Superior work, reasonable prices. A fine line of views constantly on hand. Studio over Livingston’s store.”

“F. Lincoln Harris, the artist, now absent investigating new methods pertaining to his profession, will be found in his studio on and after February 24th, better prepared than ever to furnish high grade portraits.”

And in an advertisement that brings to mind the photo of the woman above, he wrote, “We have rearranged our light and softened it to such an extent that every one is photographed so as to look positively beautiful.”

harris-photo-of-skaneateles

While in Skaneateles, he did landscape photography as well, selling pictures of the lake and surrounding countryside at his studio.

Harris Cortland Studio copy

In June of 1895, Harris left the village and moved his studio to Cortland, N.Y. The picture above shows his studio there and gives us an idea of what his Skaneateles studio would have looked like. By 1899, Harris had 15,000 portrait negatives on file, and today, more than 100 years later, his portraits still turn up on eBay.

In Skaneateles, Herbert Livingston joined with H.B. Williams and Charles W. Hunt in the firm of Livingston, Williams & Hunt; they sold “dry goods” from 1899 to 1934. From approximately 1905 to 1915, they published postcards which they had printed in Germany from photos they took and developed in their “Lakeside Studio,” perhaps Harris’ former workplace. Their postcards also turn up on eBay, and are in the collection of the Creamery Museum of the Skaneateles Historical Society.

As for F. Lincoln Harris, his health eventually prompted him to give up photography. After the death of his wife in 1917, he took a job as a coffee roaster for F.H. Cobb & Co., wholesale grocers, in Cortland. He died in 1935.

A Tale from the Colonial Lodge

Russ and the Pig

Moravia is not Skaneateles, you might tell me, and you’d be right in some ways, but the Colonial Lodge is in Bear Swamp, and that’s on Skaneateles Lake, and that’s close enough for me. The walls of the Lodge are full of stories, and the one that first caught my eye was a photo of a hunter standing by a very large pig, a trophy pig to be sure, nothing Charlotte’s Webby about it. I was told the wild pig was shot near Locke, on State land.

After the fact, one man whined that the pig had been his pet, but that was never the case. The would-be pet owner had tried to buy the pig from some Mennonites who’d used it for breeding. The pig had grown too big, so the owners were willing to part with it, but when it came time to make the exchange, the pig proved impossible to catch and vanished into the woods.

For the next two years, the pig was his own man, a feral fugitive. Given his size, he prompted 911 calls whenever he got too close to civilization, picked up some bird shot when he got into gardens, and was the secret object of desire for at least two local hunt clubs. But for one so large, he was stealthy.

Until that fateful day in the woods when Russ ended the pig’s rambling with one shot and brought him out, not to the scales of justice, but to the scale of Doug’s Custom Meats in Scott, where he rang up at 700 pounds. “He ate good,” noted Russ.

Oldest Photo of the Village

Village-1850-Panorama

A panoramic photo of the village of Skaneateles, dated between 1851 and 1865, taken from Lake View Cemetery, when the cemetery indeed had a lake view. (Click on the photo for a larger image.) On the right, by the prominent tree, you can see the backs of houses on West Lake Street, including the Reuel Smith house, built between 1851 and 1853. My thanks to the Skaneateles Historical Society.