Yes, there are no negatives to be found from 1950 till December 24, 1954. There are no Dardis style images in the College of Pacific yearbooks in 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1954.
Although Joel graduated in 1948, it’s clear he was still perfecting his photography art and skills at COP in 1949.
Later, after 1955, he would return back to College of Pacific to photograph football and basketball matches, and on occasion get an award for some of his images. But I’m running ahead.
What happened ?
The easiest explanation is that Joel continued to photograph and somehow lost or destroyed the negatives. But that would be so unlike Joel. He kept the good, bad and ugly, as we’ve seen over and over again in these 163 blog posts.
Someone else could have purchased the 1950-1954 negatives on the estate sale. This would have taken roughly 3 shoeboxes at the pace Joel was photographing. So far, no one reached out to confirm, and I didn’t find any notes related to photography work in this hiatus time period. So, still possible, but unlikely.
What do I believe happened ?
I believe mama Clara Pahl put her foot down and told, no, demanded, Joel to get a real job. Joel’s mother was extremely strict, and since Joel’s photography career didn’t take off in a commercial viable way, she most likely demanded room and board support. Joel was 28 at the time, and photography didn’t pay the bills. Plus there were plenty of successful photography studios in Stockton already. Competition was tough.
We’ve seen Joel’s selfies few blog posts back, these self portraits most likely served to headline Joel’s resumé.
Pushed to get a job, Joel would have been pretty disappointed and desillusioned. As a photographer myself, I wouldn’t be surprised that he let photography be for a few years. Focussing on the job can be pretty demanding and suck the daylight out of you. Photographing in large format, and running a darkroom, is extremely demanding on time.
Checking the Stockton/Lodi City Directories over the years, we don’t find any reference to a profession for Joel. This changes after 1950, when Joel is listed at the 524 W. Walnut address as a “Case Worker” till 1953. In later directories, Joel is referenced as “Teacher”.
From public pension information, we learn that Joel worked for almost 3 solid years for San Joaquin Social Services and at least 17 years as a teacher, probably even longer.
Courtesy of Liz Schuler, we received following photograph. The time frame is not well defined, but a few names were written on the back.
Joel Dardis is clearly at the right, the gentleman with the fabulous tie, is Joe Decola (or is it DeCola ?). The lady, at the right of Tom, is Stella Spanos.
We submitted this image to the “Stockton History” and “Memories of Stockton” Facebook groups, and received following feedback.
Evanthia Davis, Stella Spanos’ granddaughter, talked to Stella (94) and Stella remembered Joel and further identified Clara Boghosian as the lady at far right. Clara Boghosian can be found in the Stockton city directories from 1947 to 1959 as a Social Case Worker. In the 1960 and 70’s she’s in Sacramento in the same capacity. So this narrows the image down to pre 1959.
The man at the desk is Charles A Stuart, born in 1900 in French-Canada, and director of the County Welfare Office from 1948 till his retirement sometime mid-sixties.
Thomas G. DeCola is listed in the 1950 Stockton Census as born in 1914 in Ohio, and a caseworker for the “County Welfare Office”.
We’ll continue to dig through the photographic evidence, starting with the next blogpost about December 1954 press format negatives.
There are major transitions from a technical perspective on the horizon.