With a certain curiosity and reverence, I started scanning my grandfather’s negatives awhile back and I’m delighted to share a few of them now. I’d always known that my father’s family struggled quite a bit while living on the South side of Chicago in the 1920’s and 30’s, but through a long overdue conversation with my father, I learned that my grandfather, Lawrence Hensil Godman, always managed to keep a job, even through the depression years. He worked in the parts department of Ford Motor Company at 12600 S Torrence Avenue in Chicago (which surprisingly is still a Ford assembly plant) and then during the war, built aircraft engines for the B-29 in the Dodge plant at 7401 S Cicero Ave, which was the largest free span factory in the United States, and was later used by Preston Tucker to build his infamous Tucker ’48.
My grandfather started making pictures for the same reason most people do, to document family, friends, and daily life, and thankfully the activity was passed on to my father and then me. When I look at these images I feel a strong sense of wonder and kinship for someone I never knew. A kinship not just as family, but also knowing that nearly a century ago my grandfather was making photographs as I do now: observing, chasing light, arranging people, hurried before an opportunity escapes, fiddling with the camera, and maybe even forgetting the lens cap was on for a few exposures. And at times, surely with a windswept brow and dangerously cold hands in a brutal Chicago winter. I hope you enjoy my grandfather’s pictures.
South Side Beach, Chicago circa 1923
From the train, circa 1921
The Wrigley Building, North Michigan Ave., Chicago circa 1921
Esther in Jackson Park, Chicago 1920
Michigan, August 21, 1928
My Great Grandmother Parks, 1930
The Big Snow, Jackson Park, Chicago