Kaleidoscope: A Snapshot in Time

Museum exhibit reveals the photography and adventurous spirit of Alva Day

Every year in the 1930s and 1940s, Alva Day recorded the annual Mount Hood climbs guided by the American Legion.

Matt Carmichael
Every year in the 1930s and 1940s, Alva Day recorded the annual Mount Hood climbs guided by the American Legion.

“Bear Wallow, 12:50, 11-6-39”: so says the caption on the Autographic camera image of a smiling man clothing a hat while standing in a field. The rustic, plain-faced image befits its subject, the photographer Alva Day (born in Colorado, 1887, died in Oregon in 1955, and buried at Idlewilde Cemetery).

Alva Day’s images — frozen rivers, trains on tracks and derailed, pilots, power workers, farmers, falconers, builders of Columbia Gorge Hotel — are an important chronicle of the Gorge and eastern Oregon in the early to mid-20th century.

The museum funded the digitalization of the Alva Day Collection through grants from Google and the Oregon Heritage Commission.

Visiting the exhibit

Get a close look at Alva Day’s photos, see his cameras and others of the early 19th century, and have your photo taken at a replica of the avid hunter’s tent camp.

All of this is part of the experience of “A Snapshot in Time” at The History Museum of Hood River County, a celebration of one of Hood River’s most prolific photographers of the 20th century.

The museum is open Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — closed on Thanksgiving Day.

Admission is free.

The museum is located on Marina Drive, in the Port of Hood River, accessible via Button Bridge Road and exit 64.

New permanent displays at the museum also include the Luhr Jensen gallery, chronicling the life and work of angler and businessman Luhr Jensen Sr.

“These images are a unique glimpse into everyday life in the early 1900s to the mid-1950s. The pictures depict fishing trips, hiking, and home life as well as an eclectic look at the electrical revolution,” said Connie Nice, museum coordinator. “We had thousands of images to choose from and it was so difficult to narrow it down to just a few.”

The museum possesses every negative Day ever shot and kept.

“He was remarkably good at framing the shot, at getting the exposure right, the focus right,” said Arthur Babitz, who collated the exhibit along with photo collection manager Matt Carmichael.

“We have so many photos in our collections where the focus is terrible, but in his collection, almost none have bad focus.”

The Day collection is also a celebration of a long-defunct Kodak camera system known as the Autographic, which enabled the photographer to inscribe notations about each image directly onto the negative frame. The camera and film were made from 1916-1955, and Day used it from 1917 to 1955. Babitz said, “Basically, the Autographic spanned Alva Day’s lifetime. A lot of people bought the film but didn’t use the function, but he used it all the time and it’s almost like this is who they made the film for and it lasted his lifetime and they gave up when he died. I don’t think they had any more customers.”

For the gallery photos, Babitz cropped the notations out to maximize the size of the image, but the effect can be seen on the photo of H. Avery, this page. Photographs provided by History Museum, with special help by Arthur Babitz for this article. For more photos got to the photo blog at historichoodriver.com

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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