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Atomic Boomerang 50's Office | by Lynne's Lens
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Atomic Boomerang 50's Office

Oh, I so love this one!


Photo by Tom Collins, 1950's.


In 1985-86, I worked at Collins Color Lab on McKinney Avenue in Dallas. When I worked there, the lab mostly did prints of huge architectural renderings for firms all over the city.


Located in a turn-of-the-century house that hadn't been updated since Mr. Collins set up shop there in the 50's, the lab contained file cabinet after file cabinet of 4x5 negatives.


One day, Mr. Collins daughter, Beth, who ran the business end of the lab, asked me to help her go through the file cabinets; they were going to purge old negatives to have the silver extracted from them to make way for more room in the lab.


Well, when I opened the first package of negatives, I was shocked. I had expected to see architectural renderings, but instead, I found negatives of Dallas from the 1950's and 60's. Apparently, Mr. Collins spent his early years as a photographer taking photos for businesses, advertising firms, architects, and newspapers.


There were tens of thousands of negatives of this great stuff, and I wanted to keep every single one. However, that wasn't the goal of the project, so I got to work going through every negative in one file cabinet, tossing 98% of them in a trash bag to be taken for extraction. It was a painful job to do.


While we were going through the negatives, I did ask Beth if I could keep some that I really liked, and she agreed, which is how I ended up with these.


I have about 40 negatives and, at one time, made contact sheets of all of them. Today, I found two of the contact sheets, which I've cropped and posted here. They aren't in the best shape, but I've never been able to find an enlarger that takes 4x5 negatives, so I've been out of luck making actual prints of any of these. So, for now, the contact sheets will have to suffice.


The Collins Color Lab stayed in business for several years after I left, but it finally closed when Mr. Collins died. Now, the building has been lovingly restored and is an art gallery.


I'm happy to say that a large part of Mr. Collins' photos/negatives were donated to the Dallas Historical Society, and you can view some of his great work here:


His photos are scattered throughout the site, so you'll have to look around.


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Taken on September 1, 2008