Wednesday Ephemera #3: Southern California Family Snapshots (1979-1988)

Above image: Southern California family snapshots on my living room floor. Found in Glendale, California, 2009.

Hello my friends, welcome to the third installment of Wednesday Ephemera! (I know it’s Thursday, forgive me, I’ll make it up to you somehow. I’m behind this week because of my birthday festivities; I’ve been playing a game of catch-up since Monday!)

What is “Wednesday Ephemera” you ask? Well, it is a weekly Show and Tell of sorts, a place where I can share pieces from my collection of paper ephemera. Click here to read my introduction.

I want to share with you a colorful collection of family snapshots I picked up at the Vintage Paper Fair sometime in 2009. Here we follow four brothers, Scott, Bob, Mark, and Sean Taylor, from 1979 to 1988 through a Southern California suburban childhood (something that I admit I know a little about). Each snapshot is accompanied with a carefully typed label that contains a brief description and the date. There is a wonderful tactile element to these photographs, each discolored label firmly adhered to the front of each the photograph, a testament to the commitment and the care that someone put into organizing their family’s memories.

I think it’s important to note that although these snapshots look like Polaroids, they were actually taken with Kodak instant film. A lot of people may not know this, but Kodak used to manufacture instant film for Polaroid from 1963 to 1969, before Polaroid starting manufacturing their own. A few years after, Kodak introduced its own instant film products, which was different from Polaroid’s in many ways. Kodak instant film was exposed from the back without a mirror, while Polaroid’s film was exposed from the front with a mirror to reverse the image. Kodak also offered instant film with glossy or silky matte type finishes for the face of the photo, the latter being the finish that the photos from this collection are. Upon introduction of Kodak instant products, Polaroid filed suit against Eastman Kodak in April 1976 for patent infringement. The case dragged on for many years with Kodak finally loosing the dispute. After the United States District Court of Massachusetts ruling in 1985, Kodak shortly thereafter announced the discontinuation of their instant photo products, and the rest is history.

Click on the images for a closer look.

Left: “Mark opened his Birthday gift from Bob. KISS mirror picture. Scott-5, Mark-13, Bob-11. Friday night-August 10, 1979.” What’s not to love about young Scott’s one-piece pajamas.
Middle: “Ready to fish at Belmount Pier-Long Beach. Sean-13, Robert-11, Mark-13. 8/11/79”
Right: “Mark Russell Taylor – Opened his birthday presents from his mother. 8/12/79”

Left: “Scott-6 yrs. His jack-o-lantern on left side of picture. Bob’s on the right with heart eyes & ears. Hallowween 10-31-79”. Get a load of that guitar and keyboard rug!
Right: “Scott opening his Christmas presents. Christmas Day 1979.” It’s amazing how almost every family shares some variation of the “Christmas Day” photograph, spanning many generations.

It wasn’t intentional, as all the photographs are simply in chronological order, but I really like this pairing of shots.
Left: “Mark’s 1st day on unicycle… Bob giving his brother a helping hand & watching! 1/31/80  Mark- 14 yrs – Bob- 12-yrs.” Nothing says Southern California to me than suburban sidewalks and sunny afternoons with your siblings.
Right: “Spider plant from Terry Jacobelli. February 26, 1980”. It’s simple, I love photographs of plants.

Left: “Scott Taylor-1st pair of skates. 7th Birthday (Sun.) 9-7-80”
Right: “9-19-80 Bob’s 13th Birthday. ‘Red’ eggs with bacon & ‘blue’ milk. Scott 7 yrs. Both ready for school.” Along with “green” kitchen table and “yellow” wallpaper. I wonder how long these boys begged their mother to shake it up and make them a wacky breakfast.

Left: “Scott Taylor 7 years playing with trucks near front steps of house 790 Orizaba Ave. L.B., CA 9-’80”. L.B. is for Long Beach
Right: “Scott-7 & Bob-13 working on their pumpkins. Halloween 1980.”

Left: “Scott-6 Bob-12 on his stilts… Mark-14 (790 Orizaba Ave.) 11-’80”. These two are some of my favorites from the entire collection. And how was I ever denied of stilts as a child?!
Right: “Mark-14 on stilts & Bob-12. 790 Orizaba Ave. L.B. Nov. ’80”

Left: “Scott Taylor – 7 yrs. trying out his roller skates. 4/81”
Right: “Scott Taylor – 7 yrs. Setting up train on his tracks. 4/81”

Left: “El Dorado Park 5/9/81 – 2nd try to fly remote control plane.”
Right: “CABIN – Scott relaxing on his bed in his upstairs bedroom-Big Bear Lake-Sept. ’81.”. As a child, my family and I frequently visited Big Bear during the fall and winter as well. It’s Southern California’s answer to a winters-wonderland dream.

Above: “1/9/88–Scott Taylor (14 yrs) with his ‘AIRWOLF’-helicopter”. Oh Scott, I’ve grown a bit attached to you. I first saw you as a 5 year old, and now you’re 14 years old and I barely recognize you. (This is also the only Polaroid photo out of all the Kodak instant photos of this set).

Above: “Scott playing Monster Mash record on his 6th birthday”. This is one of my absolute favorites, so I will leave you with this final shot. It is the only photograph that is missing a date.

P.S.- I found an interesting Tumblr blog while doing some research for my own blog entry. It’s called Instant Impossibilities and you can visit it by going to:

I thought their About page was interesting:

“Evolution of the visual arts has been a journey to seek greater realism. From cave paintings to charcoal sketches, artists have used their own hands to depict the world as they saw it. Not until the photographic revolution did they fully harness technology in their quest. But even with this mechanical assistance, the journey has not ended. Photographers are still seeking greater quality and convenience in picture taking. Sometimes the cost of this effort is artistic quality. Although we have better ways of taking pictures, we have not become better picture takers. The instant film revival is a rediscovery of this desire for art in its purest form and the magic of instant gratification.”  —Instant Impossibilities

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