Historic Hood River
Lawrence N. Blowers
This certainly is a fine cabinet card. Some of our earliest local portraits were taken by Pope. I believe he was an itinerant photographer in the early 1890s. I’ve found an April 1892 advertisement where he offers cabinet cards at $2 per dozen if you show up on April 8th, 9th, or 10th.
The image is identified as Lawrence N. Blowers. It looks strikingly like other portraits we have of his father, Amby S. Blowers, but he’s young enough in this view that I think it is the son, not the father. Lawrence was born in 1867 or 1868, and came to Hood River in 1889. I can see this as a man in his mid-20’s.
What’s with the pile of rocks?
Tags: Blowers, cabinet card, Pope
Tags: Blowers, cabinet card, Pope
Actual birth date in Iowa was 18 April 1867. Early on, he moved with his family to Minnesota and eventually ended up in Hood River. He along with his father bought out E. L. Smith, a local merchant in the hardware business. He served as one time mayor of Hood River. He resided on Sherman Street with his wife Bertha.
Rocks are probably just stacked there to give some depth to the photo as everything else seems to be painted on a back drop.
Why would you pack those big heavy rocks into a studio? I guess HR would have had lots of them and easy to come by so maybe the quickest item for a backdrop.
Maybe they are actually outside.
Mr. Blowers has a little bit of weight to him. In all the pictures only the well to do seem to have weight except for older women which I chalk up to as being in the kitchen cooking rather constantly so having the opportunity to taste test everything they are cooking.
Even growing up in the 40's my mother got the breakfast dishes done by 9 a.m. and then had to start the noon meal soon after, as the main meal was at noon and then leftovers for supper. All 4 of us and dad coming home at different times, she spent much of the day in the kitchen. The pressure cooker was evidently a real time saver. And most days there was a dessert – a pie or cake.
Monday was wash day with beds changed weekly. Maytag wringer washer and laundry loaded up and carried up the stairs in a big wicker basket to hang on the lines. Clothes were dampened down with starch, rolled up, and put in the frig so as not to mold. Tuesday was ironing day. No permapress – everything was cotton. All the sheets had to be ironed as well. Took me 25 minutes to iron dad's white shirts – hated it, and swore I would send white shirts out to laundry when I grew up, but then along came electric dryers and permapress. I look at the many women you show and try to imagine what their lives were like – cooking, cleaning, growing a garden, canning, birthing babies, sewing and mending clothes. No wonder they don't smile.
We have seen this O.M. Pope studio background before, straw on floor, sans the pile of rocks. I would assume the photos were taken around the same time, perhaps as part of the $2 special in April 1892.
Jeffrey W Bryant
His headstone shows Laurence N. Blowers, 1868 – 1932.
I suspect those “rocks” are papier mache photo studio accessories, and easily shifted around. Depth was particularly important if the photographer also did stereoviews. If he had a four lens camera, he could cut the prints for four CDVs or two stereoviews. Slight differences between the images, but few would notice. But if you ever come across “duplicates,” it's worth checking, just for the curiosity value.
Jason S McMillen
I suppose the photographer was very artistic, and for us non-artists, we just cannot truly understand the full aesthetic. Paper mache, or gray basalt (but I think your hunch is probably right about the mache my grey basalt is much more rugged than those rocks) — it is quite collage of background / props. But I know one person who wants to find those pants at a thrift store…..
I portrayed his mother in Cemetery Tales. His father was The First mayor of Hood River. Laurence also served as Mayor. I believe he was a well known businessman in Hood River and The Dalles. Parents were active readers.