Newspaper photographers have a tradition: They end each year by examining the pictures they produced in the past twelve months and picking their favorites. Sometimes newspapers publish these images in a “Best of” collection. (The PG recently published its photographers’ best work of 2016.) In past decades, photographers often slipped the negatives from their best work into an envelope and saved them for contests or exhibitions.
The images here were scanned from negatives in one such envelope, now housed in the PG archive. And they represent a few of the newspaper’s best photos of 1964.
Who shot the pictures? Well, we know at least one was taken by the PG’s Morris Berman because his name appears in the credit of the published version. It’s possible he shot all of the images — he had a habit of saving his favorite negatives. No name is attached to the negatives, though, and with only one exception, published versions of the images contained no byline.
The picture credited to Berman shows a group of chaplains saluting a bronze statue of a Union soldier. It was published Feb. 3 with the caption, “Four chaplains of different denominations who went down with a torpedoed troopship after giving their lifebelts to others were honored by the American Legion in ceremonies in Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall.”
The Beatles were big news in ’64. They appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in February and Fab Four fever swept the nation. Folks in Pittsburgh snatched up Beatles wigs at G.C. Murphy’s on Fifth Avenue. On February 15, the store reported selling 12 dozen in seven days. A PG photographer snapped a picture of one young man trying out the Beatles look.
Another picture shows “one of the strangest funeral processions ever seen in Pittsburgh,” according to the published caption. A collection of 30 motorcycles are lined up side-by-side while pall bearers carry a casket through Allegheny Cemetery. Robert Postreich, a 22-year-old Lawrenceville man, was killed while riding his motorcycle in Butler. His widow requested friends from two motorcycle clubs accompany Postreich’s casket on its journey from a funeral home to the cemetery.
We’re suspicious of a picture showing a shirtless man about to get jabbed by what appears to be a massive hypodermic needle. Nearby, a boy can’t bear to look — he covers his eyes with his hands. The picture appears to be staged. The lighting and the boy’s stiff body language suggest to us it was choreographed. A date is etched on the negative — “4-14-64”. We searched the PG archive for a published version and found none. An April 13 news story reported that musicians for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra would be getting typhoid and tetanus shots in preparation for an 11-week tour of Europe. Perhaps that’s what the picture depicts.
A group of Amish men and women cross a Downtown street in a picture made Nov. 9. A different photograph from that same situation was published the next day. The caption explains that the visitors were en route to Maryland by bus and stopped off for lunch and a bit of sightseeing.
The most delightfully fun picture in the envelope shows boys tossing a kite to the wind on Mt. Washington. We found no published version of this photograph. The negative is dated March 15, 1964, a Sunday.
One stunning image was made at night and shows Gateway Center ablaze with light. Nearly every window in the Golden Triangle is illuminated. No information accompanied the picture, and we found no published version. It looks to us like the picture was taken from the roof of Gateway Towers, which opened in 1964. Perhaps a PG photographer climbed to the roof of the new building for a unique view of Downtown.
If you have information about any of these pictures, let us know and we’ll pass it on to readers.
— Steve Mellon