I just returned from the hometown of my wife and kids and I thought I’d share an interesting story from this small town in the rugged Ozarks of northwest Arkansas. Several years ago, I worked on a project with the Genealogical Department of the Boone County Library, where I needed to scan hundreds of old photographs of the area and its inhabitants, dating back to the 1800s. I restored a few of these images to bring this story back to life.
Above is William J. Myers, the bank president in Harrison, who gunned down the notorious bank robber, horse thief, and silent film actor, Henry Starr, on February 18, 1921.
During his thirty-two years in crime, Henry Starr robbed more banks than the James-Younger Gang and the Doolin-Dalton Gang put together. “The Cherokee Badman” netted over $60,000 from more than twenty-one bank robberies.
He started robbing banks on horseback in 1893. After going to prison in 1915 in Arizona, Starr published his autobiography, THRILLING EVENTS: LIFE OF HENRY STARR. Upon his release on parole, Starr even portrayed himself in the silent film, A DEBTOR TO THE LAW (1919). Starr was also the first bank robber in the United States to use an automobile for getaways. He ended up robbing his last with an automobile when he met his fate in Harrison, Arkansas.
Myers shot Starr with a .38 caliber Winchester rifle, 1873 model, during a robbery attempt. It was a gutshot, and Starr died from his wound three days later.
Historical photos are rare treasures. I can bring them back to life. Check out my portfolio: PHOTO RESTORATIONS.
Today’s restoration features this passport photo of my Great-Grandma Papagni taken in the late 1970s. She was on her way to visit Italy, her homeland. Born in 1899, Angelina immigrated to California in 1919 – to meet her betrothed husband, Mauro. For decades they lived their lives and raised their children on a farm in the Central Valley.
When I was in kindergarten at Homan Elementary in Fresno, Grandma lived in a house on Brown Ave. just a few blocks away. I would get done with Mrs. Ford’s class at 11 AM and walk the few blocks to Grandma’s. Over the next couple hours, I would sit at the kitchen table as Grandma sliced fresh tomato and some homemade bread, then she’d scramble a couple eggs in olive oil. She’d sit with me at the table as I’d eat and we’d talk. She spoke in broken English, heavy with accent, slipping in and out of Italian. She would laugh at my stories and I’d laugh at hers and then she’d pinch my cheek real hard and call me her “chickadee.” Us great-grandkids were all her little chickadees. I’ll always cherish those mornings with Grandma Papagni.
If you have an old photo of a loved one you’d like to have restored, I’m running a promotion on photorestoration – $35 per image – check out my portfolio and contact me for more info:
I recently discovered several old negatives of photographs my granddad took during the Korean War. I developed them in my home studio then spent several hours restoring each image. If my estimation is correct, these were taken some time in late winter 1953:
For the stories behind the images, check out my project Johnny’s Korean War Letters at SCREAMS FROM THE TREES.
Here’s a few more restored images from 1952. I restored them from the original negatives which, after 70 years, were in bad shape. The story behind these images is detailed in a project I’ve called Johnny’s Korean War Letters, but the short version goes like this. My great-grandparents sent these images to my granddad while he was in the Korean War. The young woman in the bathing suit is his newly-married bride, my grandmom. Click any image for full res gallery.
I recently uncovered a treasure trove of old family photos my grandmom left behind. From black and white images to color slides to old negatives, I’ve been going through them and restoring a select few. I recently acquired the equipment in my studio to develop old negatives and other mediums and getting all this practice has been helpful … and quite the trip down memory lane.
The image below is a photograph my granddad took of a canyon in Mesa Verde National Park in July 1963. This is the original scan:
Below is the restored version of the above image:
But the real story here is that upon developing this old slide, I recognized this canyon. I was there in 2018 and damn near took the exact same photo:
It’s uncanny – we were at the same spot at the same time of day, framed the picture the same and everything. He had better light, though, so I think he took the better photo.
But perhaps the real story here is that I didn’t know my granddad very well, and yet I’ve been told my whole life that he and I are remarkably similar. As I’m developing these old slides and negatives, I’m seeing things through his eyes, and I’m discovering how true that assessment is.
Here’s a before and after restored photo of my granddad in the Korean War circa 1953. He’s the soldier on the far left, with a pipe in his mouth. On the back of the photo he wrote: Me, Simpson, Thompson.
I recently found this photo along with a ton of color slides and old negatives that my grandmom left behind after she died. Several of them are from the Korean War.
I have the equipment in my home studio to develop old film negatives and other media, and I’m developing my skills in photo restoration. These photos from the Korean War are a great opportunity for me to hone those skills and eventually offer them as part of Unalome Photography’s services.