A Little Bit of Mystery

Right before the lockdown I was visiting with my Uncle Rico in Laguna Beach. While there I met an interesting house guest.

He said his name was Fred. He was tall with auburn hair and ears that stuck out a bit more than normal. He was THAT Fred.

When his plane crashed he wasn’t surprised. When a small boat picked him up he was more than surprised. Fred had fully expected to drown or be eaten by sharks. His injuries would kill him. He knew it. His rescuers didn’t speak English but after God only knows how long they brought him to an island where there was someone who did.

He was asked, “Do you want to live forever and be part of one of the greatest mysteries on Earth, or do you want to die and be part of one of the greatest mysteries on Earth?”

“What’s the catch?” Fred asked.

Fred said his new English speaking friend smiled in that way people do when they’re about to drop a bomb on you.”

“I watched her die,” Fred continued. “It took me years to stop thinking about it every single day. They’ll never find her body. Come to think of it they’ll never find mine.”

He smiled in a sad sort of way. “That was a long time ago. It doesn’t have to define who I am now.”

I thought about this because I was thinking about my kids in these weird times. There will be unexpected choices. Things won’t always be in their control. It is how we react that matters. It is how we learn from our experiences that matter.

Of course it is always a good thing to have a little bit of mystery. Uncle Rico and I come by it naturally because, as you know, we’re Vampires, but a little mystery is something everyone should have.

You don’t have to be an open book. Rather be a page turner with a good twist or a cliffhanger.

I’ll have to admit it was a good thing Rico was on that Island way out in the Pacific Ocean way back in 1937.

That’s all.

  • Wear a mask
  • Hug your dog
  • Talk to your kids
  • Stay safe
  • Check in on those who might need extra help or might be lonely
  • Don’t be a dick
  • Kiss a Vampire
  • Turn off the news and turn on some music

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Good Bones

The house had good bones. It would stand through a 8.0 magnitude earthquake if there were earthquakes where they stood. The first residents in 1906 had felt the San Francisco quake as well as the one in 1989 but there was never any damage. It was faint, like the ingrained presence of Vampires and Ghosts.

Austin Durant, History Professor, restorer of historic buildings, and Vampire Hunter, had been hired to restore the house, a once lavish structure filled with painted over wood work and seventy five years of unfortunate remodels. He’d brought along Kayden, a graduate student in history who’d been living with him due to the pandemic.

“If these walls could talk…” said Kayden looking around in what must have been at one time a grand salon.

“They can talk,” said Austin as he knocked quietly on the walls as he walked around the room.

“What are you looking for?” Kayden asked.

“Structural anomalies, possible pest damage, previous residents,” said Austin.

“Previous residents? Like bodies in the walls?”

“You never know.”

The two explored the house, Austin leading and answering Kayden’s questions. They’d traced the history of the house back to the original owners in 1889. The home was originally 2,000 square feet, but now it stood at 3,200 square feet with the additions of a large kitchen, sunroom and other undocumented additions.

Kayden opened an old beaten up oak wardrobe in one of the larger bedrooms. “So what if there had been a body in here. You know, like an old body from the 1920’s or something. What would you do?”

“I’d call the police and have them send someone out to take a look and remove it. Of course I’d try to figure out who it was and do some investigating of my own before anyone else looked at it.”

“Have you ever found a body?”

“A few times.”

“Wow, really?”

Austin was ready to tell one of his more interesting stories when he felt the hair on the back of his neck raise and felt a slight chill run through his body.  He turned around   to see the owner of the property standing in the doorway.

Even in the stifling heat, wearing shorts and a casual short sleeved shirt, Constantine Evans looked elegant and put together.

“If you’re looking for bodies or Ghosts there aren’t any in here,” said Constantine.

“Good to know,” said Austin. “Let me introduce you. Constantine, this is Kayden. Kayden, Constantine Jones, the owner of this house.”

“Hi. Great house. Should we have our masks on?” asked Kayden.

“No,” said Constantine. “You’re safe.”

Austin smiled slightly. “Constantine knew the original owners.”

“Wow they must have been really old,” said Kayden.

“Not really,” said Constantine. “The house was fabulous. He died in the war to end all wars, then she sold the place and moved to God knows where. They had such great parties. It was such a shame. The place was never the same after that.” He made a dramatic turn towards towards Kayden. “Now it will be magnificent again, thanks to Austin.”

Austin knew Kayden wanted to question Constantine about what he’d just said and was glad the young man had kept his thoughts on the subject to himself.

“I understand you’re getting a masters degree in History Kayden. We’ll have to talk more. I have so many stories about this house and the city we live in. So many stories,” Constantine said.

“Sounds like a plan. You and Kayden can talk later,” said Austin, “but we have to get going. I’ll go over the final blueprints with you tomorrow. How about I meet you here around ten tomorrow morning?”

“Sounds good to me,” said Constantine now smiling with amused eyes in that way that says I know what you’re thinking and I find it extremely funny.

As they drove back to Austin’s house Kayden talked on and on about how cool the house was. He also talked about how interesting the owner seemed and that he’d like to talk more with him.

Austin kept his thoughts to himself. How could he possibly explain to Kayden that one had to always proceed with caution, especially with a Vampire. How could he even explain to Kayden that there are Vampires.

On the other hand it was 2020. Vampires? No big deal, all things considering.

“Hey Kayden, when we get back to the house there are some things I need to tell you, and show you. You have to first promise me you’ll keep and open mind.”

“Sure. What about?”

“The owner of the house and a few other things. Just keep an open mind.”

“You know me. I’m pretty open.”

Austin just kept driving, and thinking about what kind of can of worms he was getting this kid into. On the other hand, like he’d thought before, it is 2020.

 

~ end

Tangled Tales

 

 

 

As We Were: Men With Hats

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Ready for adventure in the 1850’s. Don’t forget to wear the correct hat for the occasion. Half Plate Daguerreotype

One fashion trend I miss are men with hats. I don’t mean baseball caps, worn front, back, or sideways. I am also not talking about stocking hats, or cowboy hats, which also serve their own purpose, or hide bed head, or whatever.

I’m talking about real hats. Why hats? Hats are fun. Hats are stylish. Hats protect male heads with thinning hair. Hats keep one both cold and warm. Plus hats just look great.

Do you really want to spend every holiday with these people?

An attractive family with fabulous hats. Tintype. 1890’s

I’m also talking about old photos and the 19th Century men in these photos. They knew how to wear hats. When they were not wearing the hats they were still showing them off. Mind you, top hats are extremely cool. Our friend Randolpho often wears an extremely tall top hat, but this post is about the other hats. Top hats will be featured in a future post.

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Hats for fashionable men. Weinstock Lubin & Co. Sacramento California, 1903.

This week I’m featuring a small collection of images with stylish men in the 1860’s – 1880’s and their hats. Enjoy.

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Of course you could always let your girlfriend wear your hat. Tintype. 1880’s.

 

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1880’s Summer Style. A nice straw hat for a stroll out with your female companion. Back then straw hats were not just for yard work or super casual wear. This was real style. Tintype.

 

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A couple of dapper dudes. Tintype. 1890’s

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Straw and Silk

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Well dressed couple. His hat is a light color but it looks to be cloth rather than summer straw. No doubt it was from one of the finest hat makers. Considering it is usually in the 90’s or 100’s in Marysville in July their clothing is, well interesting. Sanders & Stinson Photographers, July 9th 1864 Marysville, California. CDV

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Dapper young man with a fine looking summer hat and cane. Notice the striped trousers and patterned vest peaking out from the jacket. 1860’s. Photographed by Issacs. Lachman. Philadelphia. CDV

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I want a guy with a straw hat and a long jacket. Yes, that was a take on the Cake song. You’re welcome. 1860’s. Photographed by Black & Batchelder, Boston. CDV

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Uncle Ed has a fine cloth hat. It isn’t quite a top hat but extremely handsome. Photographer Randall, Fishers Block Detroit Michigan, 1870’s. CDV

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J.C. Huten in a bowler hat and friend. 1880’s. W. Hall, Photographer, Brighton, England. CDV

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Cute dogs never go out of style. This dog is seriously cute.

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Young man with a beautiful hat to go with his long jacket. He is looking grown up with a bit of a beard over his handsome young baby face. 1864. Carte De Vista by Charles G. Crane, Philadelphia. Tax Stamped.

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I couldn’t leave you today without a formal top hat. This looks like it might be fur. This is The Irish Tenor Chauncey Olcott with Rosemary Theby. Cabinet Card, Donovan, New York.

This post has been part of the series As We Were, a look into 19th Century photography, fashion, and culture.

On the 1st and 4th Wednesday of each month I’ll ramble share my photos, along with stories, thoughts on fashion like how bustles and hoop skirts really work, society, and other related subjects. For the complete list CLICK HERE. 

All images are from the collection of and property of  Juliette Kings / Marla Todd. Please ask for permission before reproducing. Thank you.

One more thing…

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For Vampire Maman fans who came here for Vampires here is a picture of Peter Cushing in a hat.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

As We Were: A New Series About 19th Century Photography, Fashion, and Fun

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Ambrotype. Around 1850-54

As We Were: A New Series About 19th Century Photography, Fashion, and Fun

Today is the start of a new series As We Were, a look into 19th Century photography, fashion, and culture. The idea came from my box of ghosts, or that is the many boxes I have full of 19th Century photos that need to be shared.

My regular readers will recognize some of the images, but there are many many many more that haven’t been seen for a long time.

Each 1st and 4th Wednesday I’ll ramble share my photos, along with stories, thoughts on fashion like how bustles and hoop skirts really work, society, and other related subjects. See the list at the end of the post for a better idea of what I’m up to here.

My term box of ghosts comes from the fact that if your turn a daguerreotype image you see the negative form and it looks like a ghost. That is also why these images are extremely difficult to photograph with my iPhone.

Ambrotypes, and later paper photographs are easier to photograph due to the fact they don’t have the negative reflection.

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The Beginning – 1840’s and Early Photographic Portraits

Between 1845 and 1850, Texas and California became part of the Union, along with Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

In the 1840’s Edgar Allen Poe wrote his most famous works, James Marshal discovered gold in California, Mormons founded Salt Lake City, the Donner Party spent a winter near Lake Tahoe, Baseball became a national passion, Samuel Morse invented the telegraph, and the 1st Women’s Rights Convention was led by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

If that wasn’t exciting enough, photography became part of our lives.  Anyone could have their portrait instantly taken. American culture would never be the same.

In 1839 the daguerreotype was brought to the United States. The artistic and innovated immediately set up studios so that anyone could have their real likeness captured with a depth and clarity that matched the real world. It was an exact image. It was like magic.

Now it wasn’t just the rich who had their portraits to share to the world. Almost everyone could afford to have their portrait taken.

The expressions on their faces was serious, apprehensive, guarded, or a shy joy. Popular opinion says they did not smile but we know that isn’t true. Smiling in portraits wasn’t always the popular thing to do, and with the long exposure times not always the easiest for the often uncomfortable sitters. After all, sitters were sometimes in an uncomfortable head brace that kept them motionless for the exposure time of 3-5 minutes.

Unlike paper photographs, there were no negatives daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. There was one take. No copies. Each piece was a precious original.

The daguerreotype took us from being anonymous to being forever smiling shyly, in an expression captured forever. We would never be forgotten.

Photography changed society and the way we view ourselves.

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Daguerreotype 1840’s

 

Below are examples of early daguerreotypes and ambrotypes from my collection. Most were taken in the 1840’s, with the exception of a few taken in the early 1850’s.

For an enlarged view click on the image.

In future posts I’ll include other subject matters including animals. Even early on cats, pornography, and photography as art caught on. Cat memes are nothing new. Though many early portraits with cats are blurry due to the fact that cats don’t always listen to the photographer.

 

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The Basics Types of 19thCentury Photos

Daguerreotype

A daguerreotype is a picture produced on a silver coated copper or silvered glass plate. A sensitizing agent of iodine and a developing agent of mercury is used to make the image come alive. I’m not sure how the chemistry works but it does, and it does it with great beauty. The first commercial daguerreotype was introduced in 1839. They became popular in the 1840’s and 50’s. They were last made in the mid-1860’s as paper photos became popular.

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Ambrotype

The ambrotype was created by a negative image produced on a glass plate. The image views positive by the addition of a black backing. Unlike a daguerreotype ambrotypes are not reflective. The photo below is an abrotype you might recognize as Randolpho wearing one of his famous hats.

Ambrotypes were introduced in 1854 and more or less stopped production in 1865.

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Randolpho wearing one of his famous hats. Notice his nicely tinted cheeks.

Tintypes (also know as melainotype and ferrotype)

Tintypes are negative images produced on a thin iron plate then made positive when a think undercoating of black Japan varnish is applied. The wonderful thing about tintypes is that they do not break when dropped. Tintypes are often dark.

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Tintypes were introduced in 1856 and continued to be produced until around 1930. You’ll often find tintypes of vacation spots such as in swimsuits or posed casually with friends. The portrait I use for my blog is a tintype.

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Juliette

Cartes de Vistite  or CDV

CDVs were introduced in 1854 and are PAPER photographs. These are small 2.5 x 3.5 inch photos mounted on 2.5 x 3” cards.  These were extremely popular, especially during the Civil War era. People liked CDVs because they were small like calling cards and easy to hand out to friends and family.

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My regular readers might recognize this fine fellow. Innocenzio D’Antonio: An opera singer and friend of the family.

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Civil War era dress. Check out the beautiful details.

Cabinet Card

When most people think of old photos they think of cabinet cards. Cabinet cards are paper photographic prints measuring 4” x 5.5 inches mounted on a 4.25 x 6.5 inch cardboard backing. These were introduced in 1863 and pretty much stopped production around 1920. Some people collect cabinet cards with fabulous back designs advertising the photographer.

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FabulousSisters

Future posts will include:

  • Civil War Era Fashion including the hoop skirt
  • California portraits
  • Bustle Dresses
  • Hoop Skirts
  • Many many posts on fashions of the 1840’s – 90’s
  • Big hair
  • Children
  • Parents and children
  • Families
  • Grandparents
  • 19thCentury Teens
  • Dogs and Cats
  • Weddings, graduations, and other special occasions
  • Children and toys
  • Tinted images
  • Tintypes
  • Big hats
  • Having fun
  • Extreme Fashion
  • Beautifully unattractive portraits
  • Vampires, Ghosts, and other paranormal issues, with help from Nigel
  • Fabulous Hats
  • Cabinet Card Backs
  • Outdoors
  • RPPC – Real Picture Post Cards
  • Hot Victorian Guys
  • And more

Post Mortem and Erotic photographic images from the 19th Century are popular among collectors and online discussion groups. While there are many interesting and beautiful examples in both genres, I do not collect either of these types of photos and will not be featuring either one in my future posts. 

Remember to come back every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month for another fun installment of As We Were.

If you would like to go back to previous posts (when I have them) there will be a link on the left side blog menu.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. I’d love to hear from you.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Ambrotypes. Sisters early 1850’s. Note the fabulous matching dresses and tinted cheeks. Love these girls.

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Ready for adventure in the 1850’s

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1840’s. Yes, I’m a teenager here with my sister and I’m still bored.

The First Apocalypse, The Truth About Aliens, Missing Links, and Real Pandora’s Box, as Told by A Ghost

A figure in a brown dress, long white hair, and golden brown skin stood among the orange and oak trees in my back yard. Her eyes were large and dark on a round face. She was beautiful in a weird sort of etherial way. She looked more like a fantasy character than human. Then she vanished as ghosts do.

I was having coffee and trying to write at my breakfast nook table with the second story view that overlooks my back yard. I live on a hill so my back yard is lower than my front yard. Anyway… I was looking down into the yard.

As I got up to make more coffee I heard someone whisper my name. Juliette.

There in my kitchen was Nigel, the Ghost.

“You saw her,” he said.

“Of course I saw her. Who is she?”

“You SAW her. Regular people, homosapians can’t see them. She isn’t human, at least not a modern human. I mean she wasn’t.”

“What do you mean homosapians? She obviously wasn’t a Neanderthal.”

“Close to both.”

“Tell me about her Nigel.”

“Make me coffee Juliette.”

I made coffee for both of us. There was coffee for me to drink and coffee for Nigel the Ghost to smell.

“What was she? Why am I able to see her.”

“They called themselves the Chosen. Rather unscientific but it is what they called themselves. They were the people who they felt were chosen to advance civilization. We don’t have a name for them because they didn’t leave anything behind, well almost, and only the Ghosts know about them. They could interbreed with other species like Neanderthals and humans like us but it just wasn’t acceptable. They left us alone.”

“I don’t get it.”

“They developed for fifty thousand years ago away from the rest of us. They had their own technology and civilizations. Then they had their first apocalypse. Disease swept through their people. They came through. After that they had issues with fires and ice, and you name it. Plus they were afraid of us. They were afraid of what we were becoming. They considered us their second apocalypse.”

“Why don’t we know about them?”

“They left without a trace. They destroyed all evidence of their civilization.”

“Did they die?”

“They went into space in a huge caravan of ships. There aren’t any ancient aliens. It was them. It was the memory of them passed down among us. That memory is all that is left. They didn’t want us to have their technology so they destroyed everything before they left. They destroyed every shred of evidence, well almost every shred.”

“They were advanced enough to go into space?”

“Yes. Don’t be so surprised. Every single year archeologist and treasure hunters find traces of lost civilizations and ancient humans. They made and did fantastic things with technologies that are now lost to us. They did things with tools and means that we can’t even imagine.”

“What about the Ghost walking around my orange and lemon trees?”

“She is one of the few who stayed behind, refusing to leave. She and a few companions guarded the last bit of their civilization. They guarded what was left behind, lost in the frenzy of the destruction. When they too died, the one artifact was left behind.”

“What was that?”

“A box.”

“OK. What was in it?”

“Viruses and germs they’d made.”

“Do you know where it is?”

“I know what happened to it.”

“What?”

“Ever hear the story of Pandora’s Box?”

“No, it can’t be.”

“Ever wonder where Vampires, Werewolves, Smallpox and other horrors came from? And hope. Remember hope was in the bottom. Yes, they left hope behind. Go figure.”

“No, it can’t be.”

“Her name wasn’t Pandora.”

I sat numb for a while. “It can’t be.”

Nigel leaned in closer. “You know her. The box is empty now and sitting on the dresser in her bedroom.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“You have pastels,” said Nigel. “I want to borrow them?”

“Why. You’re a ghost.”

“I’m an artist.”

I was still numb with the story Nigel had told me but knew I could only push him so much for information. I got out my box of pastels and placed them before him on the table. He put his hands over the sticks of color then began to draw in front of me in the air. The colors hung on an invisible canvas forming a portrait of a woman with curing brown hair and golden brown eyes. It was beyond beautiful.

Then Nigel snapped his ghostly fingers and it vanished in a swirl of powdery dust.

“My dear Vampire, as ancient as your kind is, always remember that to the core you are still human. Like with all of us we are just a blink in the eye of time. This planet has a long history that we can barely comprehend and barely even imagine in our wildest dreams.”

Then before I could say another thing Nigel smiled, ran his hand through his unruly black hair and vanished with a thin wisp of purple smoke that smelled like citrus blossoms and cigarette smoke.

Nigel was murdered in 1986 and would have turned sixty one this year if he’d still been alive. Why he comes to visit me I do not know. Maybe it is simply for the fact that I can see him. It is always a mystery with Nigel the Ghost.

I thought about that beautiful box I’d admired as a child. I’d collect trinkets and put my small dolls inside of it. Then I’d put it back on the dresser where it still remains over a hundred years later.

Looking back out to the orange trees I could see Nigel talking to the woman in the brown dress. She turned my way and lifted a hand, as if in greeting, then they both disappeared.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

  • Stay safe everyone, at home, and with dignity and grace.
  • Wear your mask.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Social distance.
  • Stay in touch with loved ones.
  • Zoom with your friend.
  • Support your students.
  • Tell a first responder how much you appreciate them.
  • And check in on those who are elderly or might need extra help at this time.

 

 

 

The Titanic – Bon Voyage and Words to Welcome it Home.

This is a remarkable story, if not sad and chilling story. If you want to skip the introduction (and don’t feel bad if you do) click on the link to go to the original post and straight to the true story Titanic history.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Maman

Last year, on April 14 my eldest brother Max gave my son Garrett his Patek Philippe & Cie Gold Chronometro Gondolo Pocket Watch. The watch isn’t working, even though it is a magnificent time piece. The time had stopped at 2:48. That was when the icy waters of the Atlantic finally got to the inside pocket of Max’s jacket after the Titanic sank. There were seven Vampires on the ship. They all survived in the water like death, but not dead. Five women and two men. They stayed together, but it isn’t a story Max likes to tell. Garrett turned twenty-one on April 1st 2017. Max told him that they could have the watch fixed. In the box was also the jacket Max had worn. Even after all of these years it is a story that fascinates us, and horrifies us. There is nothing like mismanagement and bad communication, and inflated…

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