A photo is worth a thousand words

Wilbur George "Gup" Allen

Wilbur George “Gup” Allen

Philip Allen with ghost image

Philip Allen with ghost image

These two photos represent the end result of a very interesting side light in our family history.  They are vintage photographs taken about 1940 in Long Beach California.  The man on the far left is “Gup” Allen who married Charlotte Huffstutter in 1947 in Los Angeles, CA.  and that explains his connection to the family.  The man in the next photo is Gup’s father, Philip Allen.

Our rather convoluted story begins in 1975 when I decided to join the Daughters of the American Revolution using Ulrich Huffstutter for my Patriot Ancestor.  In those days genealogy was totally new to me so I was surprised to find someone named Emma Dankers Judd who lived in Neenah, Wisconsin had previously joined the DAR in 1950 using Ulrich as her ancestor.  When I was eventually accepted for membership into the society Mrs Judd’s original research on Ulrich was included on my application.  Curiosity over who she was and how we were related was something I intended to find out more about but never got around to digging into.  A few years later Ray Huffstutter began researching the family and as luck would have it we connected and he also wanted to find out more about the earliest research of Mrs. Judd.  It was one of those things we both always intended to pursue but never did.  Then, after The Huffstutter Family website became a reality, Ray decided to tackle the job of finding out about Emma and any family research she might have collected. He did an admirable job of tracking down Emma and her daughter.  In January 2013 he sent me the thread of some e-mails he received from Sharon Stovall concerning  Mary Sue Judd,  daughter of Emma Dankers Judd. Sharon also added info she had on  a first cousin of Emma’s named Charlotte Huffstutter along with some family  photos that included those shown above that had been originally posted on Ancestry by Louise Miller.  Suddenly we were finding all sorts of family connections.

It was at this point that I became intrigued with the twists and turns the story was taking as well as the above photographs.  Ray passed the football to me and I ran with it, trying to uncover the meaning and what the Allen photos represented.

Both Gup and Philip Allen were Photographers in Long Beach, California.  Apparently fascinated with double imagery they had the necessary skill to produce these photos that tell a story.   What is the meaning?  Philip Allen’s photo may represent the “muse” or genie of invention that gave him ideas. Gup’s photo shows him holding a bottle and the little man sitting on his knee would be a “genie”, perhaps meaning the genie was out of the bottle. At least this is how I have interpreted the photos.

How this all came about is also an interesting story.  When Gup was merely a toddler his father Philip, according to the 1920 census operated a Popcorn Shop in Long Beach CA.  During the 1920’s  the family moved to Avalon, Catalina Island, a glamorous vacation spot off the coast of CA, where Philip Allen owned the Busy Bee Concession stand.  In the 1930’s perhaps as a sideline to his other business, Philip Allen became a photographer and began to tinker with improving his photographic equipment and processes.  His son Gup learned the business at his fathers knee.  Then along came World War II.  Here is where a little mystery enters the picture. Anyone with knowledge and skill in photography was definitely to asset the US government during the war and lots of innovations in photography took place during those years. Neither Philip or Gup apparently served in the military during the war, and neither received a deferment from military service that I can find. In fact there is no mention of either of them until after the war when Gup married Charlotte Huffstutter and Philip Allen received a patent on several of his photo processes. It is easy to imagine they worked on some top secret military projects during World War II that involved photography. Certainly an interesting aspect of their lives to ponder.

But to continue with the story. Perhaps the biggest invention of Philip Allen was the Photographic Booth for which he received a patent in 1948.  Those used in malls today are descended from the one Philip Allen invented.  There is quite a list of Allen patents including a liquid beverage machine that appears to be like the coin operated coffee machines in use today. Through the 50’s and 60’s the Allens lived in Carlsbad, CA  operating company called Allen Machine Development that must have included many of the items patented by Philip Allen.

So now you know some of the details of our search for Emma Judd, how it hooked up with possible intrigues of World War II, and led to a greater appreciation of some of the machines we take for granted every day. All and all a very entertaining story. Who knows? Maybe someday they will make a movie about the Allens and the Huffstutter connection will be mentioned.  You never know.


Bayou Breezes

Today, on my daily neighborhood walk, I noticed a difference in the atmosphere.  There was a weight and texture in the air’s essence.  A breeze came up from the south, blowing gently across the bay and it was  filled with delicate scents brought over the  Gulf of Mexico from steamy orchid rich jungles in Mexico’s Yucatan.  I can smell spring.  It is on it’s way.  Just another week or so and it will be official.  The annual “Caribbean Express” of jungle air is forming and will soon arrive.

Looking toward Choctawhatchee Bay

Looking toward Choctawhatchee Bay

What am I waiting for?  Time to get my “to do” list going of projects for spring and summer. There are flower pots to fill and spring cleaning that needs to be done.  In the midst of all this action there is my pet project The Huffstutter Family to consider.  Yes, there is a definite project brewing there.  A thought formed and became a reality brought to my consciousness by that soft breeze as it wafted across the bayou.

Time to consult my crystal ball to see what the project might be.  Looking deeply I can see many faces, hundreds, thousands of faces swirling around and around.  All of them Huffstutters  jumbled together cheek by jowl over the decades and centuries since Ulrich arrived in America. Delightful photographic images. What fun it will be to pick them up, examining the family expressions, personalities and similarities they reveal.  Allowing them to tell their visual stories of family history.  Hmmm, what secrets might they whisper if we listen very carefully?

That will be the next project. Coming soon….a NEW website of family photos for all of us to enjoy.

Catch ya later.