Girl On A Bike -Sepia Saturday #162

This is my second photo for the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge, click on the link to see the full collage. I didn’t put the actual picture in the collage because it is a Sepia Saturday entry. The prompt is in the bottom row towards the center. It shows some young telegraph boys with their bikes in front of part of a sign saying “Telegraph”. You can click the collage to enlarge it.


Here we have a rather blurry photograph of two mystery girls and a bike. It was in my box of Cleage photographs but I don’t recognize them as relatives. Sometimes the Cleage photographers took street photos of random people so perhaps this is one of those.  Looks like they are on a big street passing a  store of some kind.  Looking in the window I seem to see a fan over the shoulder of the walking girl.  The partial sign seems to be for a hardware store advertising “scales, ladders, shot guns and crock(ery)”.

From looking at the clothes and shoes the girls are wearing and the lettering on the signs, I think it was taken in the mid to late 1940s. I am open to more informed opinions on that. Just a minute while I locate the original photograph so I can describe it. The paper this is printed on is thick. There are some matte photos printed on thick paper. This one is glossy, there seems to be a glossy layer added. It measures 5″w x 3.5″h. Of course there is no identification on the back.

While looking for the photo to describe it I came across several photos that will be excellent for future SepiaSaturday posts. I even found a nice birds eye view shot of two girls riding a bike but I will have to save that for the inevitable next bicycle prompt.

For a more personal look at bikes and biking read my old Sepia Saturday post Biking at Old Plank Road, 1962.

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28 thoughts on “Girl On A Bike -Sepia Saturday #162

  1. Dear Kris,

    I think that there’s a relatively easy way to precisely locate and generally date this photo. If “Cherry 0785” is a Detroit telephone number, you could ask a librarian at the Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library to do city directory lookups for a few years in the 1940s. (In the 1960s, our home phone number began with Townsend, or TO [86]).

    As you probably know, some of the older directories include phone number listings. This was done as late as 1965 , as it was in my West Side Detroit city directory.

    Wonderful post … as usual. My best to Jim. I have the honor to remain

    Your Li’l Bro’,


    1. Thanks Paul. I did a google search of the cherry exchange and found it was indeed in use in Detroit. There is an interesting discussion of 6 digit telephone numbers here

      CH(erry)-0785 would be such a number. They were in full use by 1946 and phased out during the 1950s. All of the phone numbers that I remember were 7 digit numbers.

  2. Yes, I had similar thoughts of the “0785” street number or telephone number. could this be in Detroit?

    1. I am assuming it was in Detroit because that is where the family lived. I don’t think a street number would start with a zero so I’m going to go with phone number, especially after my reading at the link above.

  3. Brilliant research, Kris. If you want to contact Burton for a directory lookup, write to Mark A. Bowden: . He’s the head of the collection, but will assign someone to do the lookups. Good work, and good luck!

    P. S.: I often find good stuff on the Web site where you found the information on the six-digit Detroit phone numbers. It’s culturally narrow, to be sure, but sometimes has helpful little gems like this.

  4. Are the girls in uniforms? I wonder if the jars hold screws, nails, nuts and bolts. Hardware stores/general stores of that era did that kind of thing as I recall. The girls look a bit miffed about having their pictures taken, as if they didn’t know the photographer. Thought provoking photo. I love your site and all the wonderful letters, in particular, that you’ve posted. I know more about your past and your family than I do about many friends I’ve known for years!

    1. I couldn’t really tell about the uniforms. That was something I wondered about. The walking girl does look a bit grumpy. The one on the bike is smiling. Maybe the grump is because she had to walk instead of ride. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. You probably know more about me than my friends who don’t read the blog!

  5. “… inevitable next bicycle prompt” – I’m still laughing because I have thought the same thing. What? Another bike? Another soldier? Another hat? Another uniform? My problem is I’m too literal and too obvious and almost always miss the subtle theme possibilities. This week I totally missed the idea of telegrams and mail.

    This photo is interesting to ponder, and I especially liked reading the tip from one of your readers who suggested phone number.

    1. So did I Wendy. Did not think about telegrams at all. I wouldn’t have thought of using a telephone number to date a photograph.

  6. For some reason that photo captivated me — starts of all sorts of stories swirled in my head. Thanks.

    BTW, a while back I posted a bit on phones that I remembered. I even remembered and posted the old telephone number, Tuxedo 4-9501, which dates back many years ago. I was surprised how many people commented and sent emails about their old phone numbers with those exotic prefixes.

  7. Three birds with the one stone, Kristin, I’m impressed: Sepia Sat, FH challenge and the Feb Collage! I like this photo a lot even though it’s blurry -adds to the sense of action. I agree with you about friendship and blog reading 😉

  8. I bet it w as a phone number! Some places had names in the beginning- or just letters, my very first phone number I still remember and I was age 3 when we moved there, and 10 when we moved away, began with OR6- funny why didn’t they just put the # but they didn’t. It was in Michigan too. I like that you featured a girl’s bike!

  9. I guess there were a few places in Detroit in the 1940s that you might need to purchase a shot gun. An intriguing shot, but a shame you don’t rcognise the subjects.

  10. I suspect you are right with your guess at the date of the photograph. I always send up a little hymn of praise to ancestors who took random photographs – they provide us all with a little mystery in life.

  11. Great photo, Kristin. What I notice in this one vs those posted this week about bikes around 1900 is that this bike is smaller and more to the size of the rider. I wonder when they began making child size bikes? I wonder if the girl on the bike was friends with the photographer, she sure is giving us a big smile.

    I enjoyed your collage too.

    Kathy M.

  12. I just had a similar experience trying to date something with a phone number. I sell things online ( and I was listing a small painting. If something is vintage, it sells lots better than something new. On the back of the painting was the phone number of the framer – only 5 numbers. I was able to call the painting vintage and it sold right away.

  13. I would be appalled if I went to the hardware store
    and found shotguns there.
    Maybe it’s just me,
    living in a different world…

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