My father travelled all over the world exhibiting and selling medical instruments. He always took pictures of the cities he visited, as I’ve mentioned before. When my father passed away, I was lumped with the arduous task of selecting the best of his slides. I’m embarrassed to admit that I ended up throwing away two shopping bags full and keeping about 500 slides, which I then had digitised.
As a child, I loved looking at my father’s slides, partly because we didn’t own a TV, but also because it was so intriguing to be transported to places that looked so different from our own home town, Johannesburg. My father knew exactly where each picture had been taken, so there was never any need to mark the slides, because he always gave (extensive!) running commentary. However, I recently found my eleven-year-old daughter staring at the digitised images on my computer, just as I had done as a child. “Look at those old cars and the funny clothes,” she said. “Where was this taken?”
I was stumped. In most cases, all I could muster was an educated guess. I could almost hear my father laughing out loud from on high: “127 cities on five continents, boy! Why weren’t you taking notes?”
So, without further ado, I’d like to share some of the photos with you, in the hope that you can help me identify the cities and, if possible, the exact location where the photo was taken. Hopefully, this will help lay my father’s laughing spirit to rest …
Photo 1 – The above photo may have been taken in Paris, but I have no idea where. The vendor is selling “Marrons chauds” and “Cacahuettes” from what looks like the front end of a miniature steam engine cut in halfby a giant chainsaw. The sign on the building in the background reads “Pasoir”, I think.
Photo 2 – This could be almost any city in Spain or Italy, or perhaps even somewhere in South America. Madrid? Rome? Buenos Aires? There’s an interesting cross hanging above the street, behind the “Globus” sign. Or is it on top of the church in the background?
Photo 3 – This looks like a movie still from a 1960s spy thriller! Who knows what that elderly agent is carrying in the deep pockets of his black coat … The clue here is in the background, shrouded in mist. Could it be Istanbul? Or perhaps further north, judging by the glistening street? Warsaw? Belgrade? And is that the actor Matt Damon (or perhaps his father) crossing the street on the left?
I look forward to hearing your wildest guesses and best assessments. Don’t be alarmed if you hear laughter ringing out. It’s only my father looking over your shoulder.