18 thoughts on “SE Foster Road, circa 1930

  1. in most of these photos of late, i note a distinct disinclination to smile. the depression accounts for some of that, of course, but even ones before that time people look dour. was pre-ww2 portland
    one long cormac mccarthy novel?

  2. i would guess the two on the ends are pere et fils. young guy in the middle doesn’t look pugnacious enough to be a family member!

  3. WL: My guess is that most people during that time rarely had their pictures taken, so they did not know how to “pose.” They just stood there as statues while the photographer set up his/her camera, and tried not to move.

  4. Pretty surly bunch. Maybe they all had bad teeth…The young guy in the middle might have been their delivery boy.

  5. The same Lents storefront is still there at 9209 SE Foster Rd. Now an antique store. I’m not too confident about embedding Google street view images in this blog. I leave it to the pros.

    Irvin Tillman Fossler (1870-1943). He must be the older man on the far left. In the grocery and meat cutting business a long time.

  6. I have always thought the dour expressions in old photographs was due to the slower shutter speeds of older cameras. People had to sit still for longer than an instant or the photo would blur. It was much easier to hold a motionless frown than a motionless smile. But here in this photo I dunno. Camera technology had improved considerably by the 1930s. So maybe it was The Depression — or maybe they just were a dour bunch.

  7. On the smile issue, I think the expectation that one had to produce a grin whenever a photo was being taken was not as widespread as it is today. I rather think these guys thought of themselves as serious business people proudly standing in front of their establishment. Times were tougher and people were too, I think.

  8. On the right inside of the store, the coffee offerings (MJB, Hills Bros and Golden West brands) take up a significant amount of shelf space for such a small store. Apparently Portland was already a coffee-loving town back then.

  9. As Richard C. mentioned, this building is still there. The location is now Milk Creek Crossing Antiques. Here’s a modern street view:

  10. J T Wilson, great locating, thanks. The Copper Penny area across the street, actually two full blocks, is flat. I have pictures of the Penny corner as a hotel, a hardware store, and Safeway before Copper Penny, now nothing.

  11. The guy on the right reminds me of the butcher in one scene in the Bonnie & Clyde movie. The one where Clyde is robbing a grocery store when out of nowhere this butcher comes after him with a meat cleaver.

  12. another reason for the scowls just occurred to me – look at the shadows. maybe the sun was making them squint.

  13. I think vanity was definitely not the issue as it is today. The thought of someone taking a photo of you was probably strange and uncomfortable…also a waste of time. “What stop to take my picture? I’ve got work to do, can’t you see?” That’s what I gather from many of these photos. BTW they are all magical, time-travel gems. Thank-you VP!

  14. Spraying Fly-Tox made them scowl.
    Probably piperonyl butoxide and pyrethrin.
    DDT while existed, not recognised as insect killer until a few years later.

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