In today's search for an appropriate image for my "Sunday Drive" I decided to take a look at this family photograph from my best friend's collection. Once again her Aunt Janette has provided a lot of genealogical data about the people pictured and even the place where they were gathered on that long-ago day. A quick glance might lead one to think that they were in an automobile...but no.
[Courtesy of B. Poppe]
[Detail of photo above]
On closer inspection it's clear that the group have posed behind a prop painted to look like a car, apparently outdoors because the trees behind them look convincing. What kind of park would have such a thing?
Janette got the place-name (slightly but understandably) wrong--it was Robison Park*, an amusement park opened in 1896 by the Fort Wayne Consolidated Railway** seven miles northwest of Fort Wayne on the St. Joseph River.
[Pavilion, Robinson [sic] Park; source: delcampe.net]
[The Rest, Robison Park, Fort Wayne, Ind.; source: CardCow.com]
[The Blue Streak, Robison Park, Fort Wayne, Ind.; source: delcampe.net]
And over the years Robison Park was in operation*** there were other options for visitors to pose in novel settings.
[From "Allen County in Vintage Postcards" by John Martin Smith, Arcadia Publishing, 2001]
The impulse to have one's photograph taken sitting in one of those newfangled automobiles wasn't restricted to residents of Indiana either. Here's an example of a family in Scotland:
[William Lees, (Family group sitting in a studio car prop), cabinet card between 1898 and 1914] Portobello, Scotland,
source: Ryerson University Library]
As to the names of the folks in the first photograph, Janette has done such a good job of identifying them in her legible handwriting, I'll leave it to her, except to point out that my friend's mother Mary Elizabeth Trainer is the youngest child in the group.
*A short illustrated history of Robison Park can be viewed here.
**The first electric trolley company in Fort Wayne.
****To learn more about cars in early photographs, go here.
© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.