Ellie Kelly

To make up for the two-year break in between posts: a new batch of timeless photographs.

The main character here is my grandmother’s mother, Ellie Kelly, as a little girl in the 1920s and early 1930s.  She’s easy to pick out of the crowd in most shots, as she had an affinity for wearing enormous bows in her hair.  She also loved scrap booking, cutting photos into weird shapes, and creating playful collages.  Not the best for archival purposes.  But the oddities are what help shape my idea of who Ellie was, much more so than any set of mint-condition photos would.

You can learn a lot about someone from looking through their photographs.  The images below provide just a small glimpse into my great-grandmother’s childhood.  But, like all of the other pictures I’ve dug up over the years, these will leave their mark.  It’s a valuable thing to know where you came from and to have the opportunity to look back.

Whether it’s every day or every two years.


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road trips.

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black and white photos from may

taken with an olympus om-4 35mm and 135mm.





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though it doesn’t feel like summer…

I wanted to post some beach-related photos that I found – not in the garbage, but under my old bed at my parent’s house in NJ.


“Edward [Halligan]’s wife Helen & son”

The actual size of this photo is so small, that I initially thought it was a rifle on the baby’s lap.  Nope – it’s a little acoustic guitar instead.  I would’ve preferred the rifle, but the photo is still great.  There is something brilliant about the tradition of discreetly placing random items in baby’s laps, then taking a photo of them – everyone has one of those that they can thank their parents for.


“Mabel & Bella on log, Front Row: Edward Halligan, Rita and Joseph McDermott”


“Bella with Edward, Mabel with Rita”


“Mabel & Joseph McDermott, Bella Halligan, Edward Halligan, and Rita McDermott”

The actual dimensions of this photo are probably something like 1″x 1.5″ — smaller than the wallet sized school photos — so I’m glad to see that the quality is there after scanning and enlarging.  The woman all the way to the right, with the bathing cap on, is my great-grandmother Bella.  Looking at this photo, I realize that my mom really resembles her… same eyes, same nose, same mouth… same Irish stoicism!


Labeled “Rita, extreme right in tree.”  This is a great group shot — any family members reading this recognize the others?

The following photo is great, but it’s the caption on the back that really makes it…



“This is what happens to people after they indulge in a quarter of ale from Andre’s.  June, 1934”


Bella looking sassy with her hand on her hip.

oldbeach_0008This is one of the oldest photos I found.  Taken in Atlantic City, April 16, 1916.  The back of it has a stamp from a photo lab in Hoboken, NJ.

I really love this one – the blurry image of the little boy against the sea is really haunting and beautiful.


No labels on this one…


I like the way everyone is arranged in this photo, well proportioned, and the two old shops in the background.

oldbeach_0003“Annie, Bella, Jimmy, Eddie G, Marge, Edward”


Jimmy Halligan, my great-grandfather, and Eddie G.

Looks like this was taken on Barley Point, but I can’t be sure..


No label on this one.


One last group shot.


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found next to garbage

Walked around the West Village on Saturday and found these VHS tapes scattered on the sidewalk.  A decent collection, including When Harry Met Sally, Married to the Mob, and Jaws 2.  My grandfather definitely worked on the original Jaws or one of the many installments of the series, just not sure which one(s).

Any family members reading this know?



Fajitas Camarones were the lunch special that day. The plates are knock-off Fiestaware - my parents have a huge collection of the authentic stuff. I love their Fiestaware salt & pepper shakers, tea cups and saucers, and any of the chartruese and jade green pieces in their collection.


A busful of bachelorettes barreled down Washington Street.


This adorable little person was dutifully pushing her stroller across the lawn at Riverside Park.

I spotted these PEZ dispensers lined up along the top of someone’s door-frame. My friend Jason Polan visited my blog later and told me that this is the home of one of his good friends! Jason is a really talented artist that I met while working one weekend at Partners & Spade gallery. He draws people in New York (see: http://everypersoninnewyork.blogspot.com/).
Jason also sat in the front window of the gallery for 7+ hours one day and drew on demand almost anything that people requested. All they had to do was fork over $20 and fill out a form. Here’s what we sent out to everyone on our mailing list. We had so many requests and the shop was so busy that day that Jason had to finish a bunch of his drawings at home that night.  Two of my favorite drawings that day were: the contents of a man’s dob kit and a toy car (requested by Stacy Wall’s son, who couldn’t have been a sweeter kid).


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what did the deep sea say?

My grandfather won the Bahr’s shark tournament by catching an enormous hammerhead shark on July 8, 1984 – the day I was born.  If it had been a Mako shark my mom would have named me after it.  Instead, I acquired the nickname ‘Hammerhead’ among my family, and my mom decided to name me after a Fleetwood Mac song.

Here are some boating-related photos I dug up.  The first few taken in the Bimini Islands, the rest were taken in or near Monmouth County, NJ.


Flying into Bimini.


That belt.


Red Snapper.


Captain’s chair.


Hammerhead – but not the one I’m named after.


Just some casual shark hunting.


The Sea Bright bridge, NJ.  The Bait/Tackle shop is a Dunkin’ Donuts now.


Jimmy and John Hal.


Atlantic Highlands Marina.


Barak – Rumson, NJ.  John’s get-up IS the late 70s.  Hope I don’t get in trouble for this one.


Photo op in front of 33 Center St.  The Pine tree is long gone.

njboating_0009You can just tell the weather was perfect that day.


BARAK II, the second Bertram.


Side view.


Hammerhead.  Raising hell on the Bertram at a young age.


Another top 10 photo.

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the 30s.

Bella Halligan, my great grandmother.

Photos from the 1930s.


Bella in middle.


Dr Seuss inspired.


Looks like she’s about to take a hit out for the Jersey mob.

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