Fun Discovery From My Family Archives

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craiginthecorn

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May 8, 2017
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Sugar Grove, IL, USA
I spent a few hours yesterday sifting through family photos and mementos. One that delighted me was this photo of my great grandfather, Harry Carlton Cummins working in his art studio in LaPorte City, Iowa in roughly 1888, while smoking a corncob pipe. He was an interesting fellow best known for his work creating circus art for U.S. Tent and Awning in Chicago, which supplied Barnum and Bailey. Folks from Chicago might also remember the facade of the Aladdin's Castle Funhouse at Riverview. That was his work as well.
The paintbrush behind his ear reminds me of Brian Levine, who stashes his pipe cleaners there.


 

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scloyd

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May 23, 2018
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That is very cool.
I haven't thought about Riverview Park in a long time.
I grew up on N. Kilbourn near Belmont until 1969 when our parents moved us all out to Crystal Lake. We lived like 3 miles from Riverview. My parents took us to Riverview a few times. I was a little kid and have faint memories of it.
Thanks for jogging my memories.

 

mso489

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Feb 21, 2013
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Boy, that photo rings some bells from the distant past. It's a great portrait of your great grandfather, really showing him in his life and element. I remember the Aladdin entrance from old TV ads and photos. When I was commuting to college in the late sixties, I remember sighting Riverview Park, then long-closed, the roller coaster and parachute drop, and then of course one day it was gone. What a tremendous visual family legacy.

 
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cortezattic

Preferred Member
Nov 19, 2009
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Chicago, IL
Great history there, Craig. I went to Riverview several times during the mid to late 50's, and a little more frequently to the roller skating rink across the street on Western Ave. The American Pickers reality TV show did an episode or two involving circus and tent art -- apparently highly collectible stuff.

 

craiginthecorn

Preferred Member
May 8, 2017
1,183
204
Sugar Grove, IL, USA
It looks to me like he’s wearing a beret. Allegedly, he had an offer from a benefactor to go to Paris to study, but his adoptive mother begged him not to go.
The most famous of the circus banner artists is Fred Johnson. His work is extremely valuable. I found a book which mentions that it was my great grandfather, whose health was failing, who was Johnson’s mentor. Johnson had no formal art training.

 

mau1

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
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Canada
Now that is special. Try and imagine what life was like back in 1888. Your great grandfather looks like he was in his mid-twenties. Thanks for sharing both pictures.

 
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mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
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Jeeze, craig', it took me a second look at the original post to realize how strong a resemblance you have to your great grandpa! It could be the younger you dressed to play the part. Complete with pipe.

 

snagstangl

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Jul 1, 2013
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I live about an hour and a half south of LaPorte City. My grandparents lived near there in the 80's

 

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