First City Photo

(Frank) Today on Around Kansas, Deb is back in Leavenworth today, but this time with Debra Bates-Lamborn with First City Photo and Frame. Take a step back in time as the ladies look through portraits and streets scenes from early
Leavenworth. Learn about the Everhard Glass Negative Collection, which
Debra has been recreating one print at a time. In the walls of this
historic building you will not find any copies, just originals taken as
early as 1854. All this coming up on Around Kansas.Closed Captioning brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Deb) Hi. Welcome to Around Kansas. I’m your co-host, Deb Bisel and we’re
here today with Debra Bates-Lamborn in First City Photo in the first city
of Kansas, Leavenworth, Leavenworth City back in the day and, Debra, what a
beautiful building this is, a historic site, some really historic images,
so tell us about this place. (Female) Well First City Photo started about
twenty years ago and I, of course, being a darkroom photographer, I have
continued over the years, despite the digital age, so we started using some
of the historical prints here in the studio and about a year and a half
ago, I bought some of the glass negatives from the Everhard Collection from
Dave Phillips in Chicago and these are about a three by five negative and
what I’ve been doing is going through these and indexing them all and
finding these fascinating stories about these people who came to
Leavenworth as early as 1854. (Deb) Now this collection is the buzz among
historians about this collection, it is pretty incredible because that’s a
really extensive collection of photographs dating back to when did those
start? (Female) 1859. (Deb) ’59. (Female) 1859, there were over three
hundred thousand of them. (Deb) Three hundred thousand. Is that not
incredible? (Female) Incredible. (Deb) Now how many of those were made
right here in Leavenworth? (Female) All of them. (Deb) All of them.
(Female) All of them. (Deb) Isn’t that oh, it just boggles the mind. It
sends chills over me. (Female) It represents about five different
photographer’s work and if you figure, if it started in 1856 and this
collection was here until about 1973, that’s over a hundred plus years that
these photographers were here. They were here in the beginning and
photographed the people that came to Kansas. (Deb) All right. Well we talked
about the Everhard Collection. Talk about some of the things that are
included. I know some of the buffalo soldiers; there are just so many images,
obviously, that have a connection to Fort Leavenworth. (Female) Well
exactly. At one point in time, there were negatives that represented what
was called the Black Dignity Tour that went across the country. That’s now
those negatives are in the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.
However, a lot of the images are here in our own Richard Allen Cultural
Center and some of those images are four to six feet tall and they’re just
huge, but it represents the African-American in Leavenworth after the Civil
War and the reason it was called the Black Dignity Tour is that it
represents these people as people of dignity. The clothing that they’re
wearing, the expression on their face and the way they’re portrayed in
these images, it’s just wonderful. (Deb) So it was a real departure from
slaves or servant. (Female) Exactly, exactly. (Deb) Right, for one of the
first times. Wow. We’re gonna visit a lot more with Debra in just a couple
of minutes, so stay tuned for more of Around Kansas.

(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas. We’re here with Debra Bates-Lamborn
and again, First City Photo. You’ve got to come and see this. It’s just
like a museum itself and, so, tell me about the prints or some of the
photos that are on the walls around us. (Female) Okay. Well, all of the
prints that are hanging up in the studio are taken from the original
negative. I always like to tell people, there are no copies here. We have
Abraham Lincoln who is four feet by five feet that was taken here in 1859
without his beard. He hangs in the front. I have John Brown back in my
office because I always felt like I needed to separate the two from each
other. We also have historic street scenes of Leavenworth that were taken
in 1869. There are quite a few of military soldiers over the years that are
represented here on the walls and a lot of the images do show what life was
like in Leavenworth in 1869. One of the things that has always impressed me
is the fact that there were a lot of street scenes that were shot during
that time by E.E. Henry and I always like to tell people, I believe what
happened was is he got a new camera, didn’t know what to do with it because
he was afraid to take pictures of people, so he wandered the streets of
Leavenworth shooting the street scenes and the buildings and they go all
the way to the river and the last point west would be what we see on this
street and then everything to the river. So there are quite a few historic
places along the way and, you know, Leavenworth was a thriving community.
In 1869, there were over a hundred and three grocery stores and there were
eighty-four saloons and this is really what I believe is where a lot of
things began here in Leavenworth. Leavenworth was the beginning of a lot of
different things and I believe that the Temperance movement started here in
Leavenworth in 1874 and it was long before Carrie Nation made her first
march on a saloon, that we had the Temperance ladies group of one of the
churches here in town who actually marched on the Star of the West Saloon,
passed it by, went on down to the Del Monaco Hotel and Restaurant and Bar
and that was their first saloon visit in 1874. (Deb) Well I’ve got to tell
you, those ladies had good reason because of my favorite stories from
Leavenworth, and this, I believe, is during the Civil War era, there was a
man who was drunk in front of one of the saloons and back then, of course,
the streets were mud and there were a lot of animals, livestock that would
just roam around, so he is wallowing in the mud with a hog and he is drunk
and he is calling it by his wife’s name and I’m thinking, Okay, if there
were a reason to start a temperance movement, that would have done it, that
would have done it. I don’t know what happened to him after that. She may
have made bacon out of both of them. (Female) Oh, yes, yes. (Deb) Certainly
deserved it. (Female) That’s very funny. (Deb) Well those street scenes
turned into a really wonderful, historical reference point, didn’t they?
(Female) Yes, yes they did, yes, yes they did, yeah. (Deb) How fortunate he
did that. (Female) Uh-hum. It was because now we are able to have glimpses
of what are town looked like at the time, but not only that, they’re sharp.
I mean these are incredibly sharp images. They’re not images that are out
of focus or blurry. You can see, you know, three or four blocks down the
road, the street signs and also the signs on the buildings are very sharp,
yes. (Deb) Well let’s come back in just a minute and talk about the
building itself because the building itself is wonderful. Stay tuned for
more of Around Kansas.

(Deb) Debra, tell us about this incredibly gorgeous building that you get
to come to work in every day. What a joy it must be to come in here.
(Female) It really is. Sometimes I sit in the back office there and I look
out and I think how fortunate and how lucky I am to be in a building like
this. I bought this building twenty years ago and it had been in the same
family since the 1860’s and it was Wolfram’s Grocery Store and Provisions
and Merriam Wolfram came here in 1856 and started a grocery store and he
had two sons, no I’m sorry, two daughters and three sons and they all lived
and died upstairs. None of them ever got married and they operated the
business here until 1947 and I like to tell people, the reason this
building is so intact inside and out is that Mary lived here until she died
in 1985 and, of course (Deb) Wow. That is a great (Female) A long time. She
was a late life baby and, so, consequently, when she did pass away, she was
ninety-nine years and ten months old and her greatest fear was that this
building would be allowed to fall into a state of disrepair and it would be
torn down and, of course, when I purchased it in ’92, it had some serious
issues and I rent the upstairs out to military and I’m always afraid when
they go on our Downtown Lofts Tour, that they’re going to come back and
want new floors and I have to explain to them, but you don’t understand,
Buffalo Bill Cody used to come to this apartment to pick up his sister
because he didn’t trust the street out front because it was such a rowdy
town and often times, he would sometimes have his buddy with him and that,
of course, would be Wild Bill Hickok. So I always tell them, What’s more
important, Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody or saying I got the
floors from Home Depot? (Deb) Exactly. (Female) So it’s always been a
difficulty with people understanding the condition, but I’m a caretaker.
This building’s gonna be here a long time after I’m gone and it’s my job to
make sure that it remains the same. (Deb) Now you’ve adapted a little bit
and we’ll come back and talk about that in a few minutes, put in a working
darkroom, but you operate a photography studio here. (Female) Yes I do, uh-
huh. (Deb) So that’s your business. (Female) Right, exactly. I’ve kind of
incorporated a little bit of the historical part in with the actual doing
family photographs and high school seniors and what not. I use a Mamiya
camera. It’s digital medium format and it’s very similar to the one that I
used when I was shooting film and the reason I use this is because the man
who sold me the camera from Mamiya said to me, This is as close as you’ll
ever get to shooting film, and, of course, it was very difficult for me to
make the transition from film to digital. (Deb) Right. Yeah, you kind of
get stuck in your ways, don’t you? (Female) Oh, you do. (Deb) There’s a
difference. (Female) Oh, there’s a huge difference. (Deb) There is a
difference. (Female) And this camera that I have now really breaches the
gap that was there when we switched to digital. (Deb) Well we’ll come back
in just a minute and we’ll talk about your darkroom process and how that
works. Stay tuned.

(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas and, Debra, you were just talking
about the process of having a photo studio here. So you’ve got a darkroom,
so obviously, that was not here originally. That was something you had to
incorporate. (Female) Actually, that started upstairs and I eventually
moved it down here and built this structure and I say, I did do it, and I
have four enlargers in there and I can go from a thirty-five millimeter
negative to an eleven by fourteen negative. The largest enlarger that I
have will handle the eleven by fourteen negative and I have found that as
you do a digital scan, it doesn’t have the quality when you scan a
negative, but you take that negative into the darkroom and you make a print
and that quality is still there and now you think you about the technology.
These negatives were shot in 1870 that I’m printing off of and this is
2013. Do you think in ten years, we’re gonna be able to use technology that
we have today with taking pictures in ten years? I don’t know. We’ll just
have to find out. (Deb) Right. (Female) Find me a floppy disk, you know,
and that’s a few years back, but the negatives that we print, it’s amazing
the quality that you see in these and the stories that I do for the
Leavenworth Times on Fridays, at the beginning, we use to scan them and we
realized the quality, the sharpness in the pupil was not there, so then
what we started doing was actually making the print in the darkroom and
then we were able to use that image and some of the people that we’ve come
across in this collection of negatives that go from 1870 to 1886, they’re
incredible. They’re just great stories. (Deb) Now the negatives that were
created then were large negatives, is that right? (Female) No. they were
actually about three by five. (Deb) Oh, okay. (Female) These are the
smaller ones, that’s the ones that are covering the people from the time,
the 1870’s on, but you have to realize that a lot of these people that were
here in 1870, came here in 1855 and as they have gotten older and late in
life, they’re wanting to capture themselves that that time period and, so,
there’s people that go back to 1854, 1855 time period, yeah. (Deb) And as
their lives became more settled and this became more civilized, yeah, they
had a little more time to come in to get a photo done. (Female) Yes, yes,
there you go. (Deb) Now what’s your favorite part of being here?
(Female) The history. I’m in a town that has such a wealth of history that
I love it. Every day I learn something new about it that I didn’t know the
day before and I find it exciting to research the people that were here
during that time period because a lot of our town’s history has yet to be
told and it’s so exciting to come across a new story like, for instance,
George Hoyt. A lot of people don’t know who George Hoyt is. (Deb) Red Leg.
(Female) Red Leg, yes. he defended, you know, John Brown, but a lot of
people don’t know is that he was the model for the first KU Jayhawk because
he was such a fierce man and the things that he did, that the used George
Hoyt as a model for the KU Jayhawk. (Deb) You know we’ll be over in
Missouri later today talking about their opinion of George Hoyt, so.
(Female) There ya go; there ya go, exactly, exactly, yes. (Deb) This has
been great. Do you have a website where people can find more information?
(Female) Yes I do, it’s www.firstcityphoto.com and there’s information
there and a contact if they need to get a hold of me through the website,
yes. (Deb) Wonderful. Well it’s been great visiting with you. (Female) Oh,
it’s been a pleasure. Thank you. (Deb) And the photos are just wonderful.
(Female) Yes, well thank you. (Deb) Thank you for joining us on Around
Kansas. We’ve enjoyed being in Leavenworth today, Kansas first city and
First City Photo. Stay tuned next week.

Closed Captioning brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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