Enigma, Box 40, April 1948


This box of negatives is a bit of an oddball. There’s a Feb 26, 1948 date pencilled in the corner of the lid. And (sic) “baptislau” … Joel’s scribbles leave a lot to be desired at times. Baptismal.

There are indeed negatives in the box of a baby getting all dressed up for a baptismal, but there’s a negative that got in this box that requires a little explaining.

Unidentified soldier on latrine duty. (1943-1945)

Joel photographed while in service in Europe. These photographs ended up in a black leathery album of which you can see the back in the above image.

William Maxwell, Archivist of the Bank of Stockton, picked this album, and the letters Joel wrote to his mother Clara, up prior to the estate sale and donated these historical documents, in a very nice gesture, to the local Haggin Museum.

I was privy to see these prior to the Haggin Museum donation, and there’s a wealth of information inside. (I requested access to the collection at the Haggin, so this can be analyzed and documented with all the other Joel Pahl Dardis WWII information I have acquired. Stay tuned. The majority of the images have names written on the back, as such, a valuable source of genealogical information on men that might never have made it home.)

Cropping the image out of the negative (that was clearly printed at some point in time), we get the image below:

Unidentified soldier on latrine duty. (1943-1945)

It’s not too far of a stretch to assume that Joel befriended this man, and heard about him or his family after the war with the request for a print of the image. Maybe this man never returned.

The rest of the images are all baby related. I’ve not been able to tie this in with one of the Pahl family members, so, this is either the baby of a friend or COP alumni couple.

Joel photographed plenty of images in different angles, quite a few were printed.

Grandma feeding the baby, Feb 26, 1948
Baby getting ready for baptism, Feb 26, 1948
Baby getting ready for baptism, Feb 26, 1948 (Printed)
Baby with toy, getting ready for baptism, Feb 26, 1948
Baby getting ready for baptism, Feb 26, 1948
Baby getting ready for baptism, Feb 26, 1948
Baby getting ready for baptism, Feb 26, 1948
Baby getting ready for baptism, Feb 26, 1948 (Printed)

The use of the mirror reflecting the mother’s out-of-focus image, while keeping the baby face sharp, is quite good. Joel made a good choice here, and the baby was cooperating !

Baby getting ready for baptism, Feb 26, 1948

You can never predict what a baby will do when you press the shutter and the flash goes off !

The overall quality of the images is there, Joel is secure in delivering the goods !

Cheers !


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