U.S. Sailors March in c. 1910 Memorial Day Parade in San Diego, California - Remember Our Heroes May 31, 2010
This wonderful photograph of a c. 1910 Memorial Day parade is crammed full of all sorts of fabulous details - from the uniforms and arms of the marching U.S. Sailors to the people lining the street and peering out of the second-story windows and the horses and carriages pulled off to the side.
It is a Victorian architecture afficiando's dream of store-front construction and architectural details. Among other businesses, we can see the Postal Telegraph Office and Lion Clothing Company. Heller's Crown Market, which advertises itself on its window awnings as "The Dependable Stop" with "Superior Breads, Cakes, and Pastries" has festooned it's front doorway with American flags.
However, what really caught my eye was the small, beautifully lettered sign of a second-story business - "Weitfle Photographer" -above G. H. Becker's Dry Goods store to the upper right in the photograph.
There were two Weitfles, a father and a son, who were well-known photographers. Perhaps the most famous was the father, Charles (1836-1921) who came to the United States from Germany at the age of 13. During the American Civil War, he served as a photographer for the Union Army.
In 1878, Charles established a studio in Central City, Colorado and later had a studio in Denver. He became famous for his stereoviews of Colorado and steam engines and trains.
Tragically, In 1883, his Denver Studio burned, destroying approximately 1,000 plates. He then established a tent studio in Cheyenne and also maintained a studio in Rawlins. About 1887-1889, Weitfle moved to Granite County, Montana and later to Phillipsburg.
Charles's son, Paul Weitfle, was also a photographer in Colorado and New Mexico, but the two were estranged.
The gentleman who sold me this photographic postcard told me that the location where it was taken was San Diego, California. However, I could not find where either Weitfle had a studio there. Conversely, I didn't think there would have been any large numbers of sailors in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, or New Mexico where the father and son were known to operate.
I was stumped. Weitfle is such an unusual name, but I could find no information on a studio belonging to either father or son in California. I could not even be sure that the scene was San Diego as the fading of the photograph had obliterated the white writing at the bottom which identified the location.
I found mention of the great-grandson of Charles, Paul L. Weitfle III, while researching this photograph online. I sent him and email and got a response within less than 24 hours. Mr. Weitfle confirmed that the photographic studio above the dry goods store was indeed that of his grandfather Paul Weitfle and that the location was San Diego, California. Mr. Weitfle wrote in his May 30, 2010 email:
"Thank you very much for sharing that post card with me. That is definitely a photo of my Grandfather's photo studio in San Diego, circa 1910. My Grandfather, Paul L Weitfle I, son of Charles Weitfle, had a very distinctive font for his last name....on cabinet cards, in newspaper advertisements, and as I have now learned from you, on his outdoor signage.
"Paul moved around the country very frequently. The 1910 San Diego street directory shows him as a photographer "841 5th, house same." In your photo, George H Becker's dry goods store is very clearly at 845, so that's proof positive to me that this is a San Diego scene."
Mystery solved! Thank you, thank you so much, Mr. Weitfle!
Dating this Photograph:
This back of this photographic postcard there is a printed AZO stamp box with four triangles pointed upward, which dates from 1904 to 1818.
However, the postcard has a divided back (the left side for correspondence and the right side for the address), so it probably dates to 1907 or a little later due to the fact that the U.S. Postal Regulations, which came out on March 1, 1907 divided the back of U.S. postcards in half, the left side for a message, the right for postage and address. Prior to that date, the backs of U.S. postcards were undivided.