Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Paul Was Here: Sleuthing on a Budget... or Why None of Us will Ever Have Any Privacy Again, Ever

My free time of the past several days has been spent cleaning up images from Paul McCullough's mother's scrapbook (courtesy Paul's nephew Mike Brick) in preparation for adding the best bits to the all-too stagnant Clark and McCullough Database. Among the newspaper clippings are many candid photos of Paul and his friends and family, undated and usually unmarked with no corresponding documentation, which unfortunately relegates a good many of them to the "unknown" file. But at least a few can be pinned down thanks to handy identifiers and landmarks in the photos themselves. Take for instance this snapshot of Paul, his mother, and assorted friends (and family?).

No documentation, although, from the clothes and Paul's appearance, it can be readily assumed to date from the early 30s. There are however many signs and distinctive buildings.

To the left, a building with a sign reading "Kress" and a tower with a peaked roof.. to the right, the "La Plaza Theatre" and a nice clock.

A quick Google search of "La Plaza Theatre" and "Kress" brings up a postcard on Ebay of Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida. Here's a good one from the late 30s with three of our identifiers; the Kress sign, the peaked tower, and the clock. But what about the La Plaza Theatre?

Here it is to the far right of this mid-20s postcard. That marquee is much bigger than it seems in the candid photo! All four of our landmarks are here.

Here are two postcards of the La Plaza Theatre from the teens, before the huge marquee was added. According to the Cinema Treasures site, the La Plaza, located at 504 Central Ave. (now a parking lot), opened in 1913 and had over 2,000 seats. Perhaps Clark and McCullough played there at some point? And where, exactly, are Paul and company seated? GOOGLE KNOWS ALL!! GOOGLE SEES ALL!!

This 1935-6 postcard shows that they would be sitting under the red arrow, right in front of the Plaza Hotel (next door to the extremely strangely named "X-Ray Shoes" store). It's easy to assume that Paul and company were staying at the Plaza. Does anyone have any shots of the Plaza Hotel today? Does it still exist?

On to the next photo. This one is fairly simple. Again, this must be the early 30s. A Google search for "Buenaventura Mission" pulls up the Mission San Buenaventura in Ventura, CA. Paul is probably leaving the mission after Mass.

Here's the mission on a 1930s postcard.

Here's the mission today, restored to its much nicer 1782 appearance.

This one was tricky. Obviously, Paul and his friends are still in Florida, most likely the same trip that saw them in St. Petersburg. The building behind them is plainly a hotel, and it must be the Hotel Floridian (duh).

A Google search brings up a postcard on Ebay of a Hotel Floridian on Miami Beach as seen from Star Island. I couldn't find a better (or closer) image of the hotel than this. Further Googling reveals that the hotel is long since demolished.

Again, this must be the same early 30s trip. That's Paul in the middle accompanied by the thin and chubby fellows from the previous shot. Clearly they're in front of a bridge crossing the Suwannee River. Photoshop tinkering brings out the name of the bridge located above the plaque; Hillman Bridge. The Hillman Bridge, now abandoned, is located near Suwannee River State Park on old US Highway 90 in Ellaville, FL.. itself mostly abandoned.

Here's a postcard of the bridge from the late 40s.

Here's a recent shot of the Hillman Bridge (from the opposite end) that I found on Webshots. Jeez, that's depressing..

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Blogger Anonymous City Girl said...

Nice blog...
and who would have thought I would happen across Nick Santa Maria...
I loved watching those old movies in Sarasota with you, like a million years ago.

8:18 PM  
Blogger East Side said...

I can't add anything to the McCullough info. But as for "X-Ray Shoes" -- Where I grew up, the local shoestore had an X-ray machine that kids used to stick their feet in whenever they dropped by. This is, of course, frowned upon these days. Could that store in the postcard have an X-ray machine, too?

7:52 AM  
Blogger Aaron Neathery said...

Ye gods! I wonder how many people developed cancer! That's the only possible explanation for "X-Ray Shoes". Thanks for clearing that up..

9:12 AM  
Blogger aem said...

I've got some other photos of the floridian hotel (I live in the condo, also called the floridian, which now exists on the same property). Send an email if you'd like copies

6:05 PM  
Blogger Aaron Neathery said...

aem, I'd love to see those photos! Please drop me a line at aaronneathery@gmail.com

6:41 PM  

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