Donna Darling Collection – Part 77

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at two pages from the Donna Darling Collection[i]. On the pages were eight photos that I’ll look at and hopefully identify during this article.

Donald Larson from the summer when he turned one. The person cut out was probably Donna (Montran) Kees. I used the surname of “Larson” from when I was born until about 12 years old.

The first photo is an easy one. It is me, from the summer when I was turning one. Sadly, the person with me was cut out. It was probably my grandmother Donna. My stepfather cut Donna out of many photos. In 1951, I had the surname of “Larson” as my mother had married a Larson, and using the same surname as a stepfather was common in those days as it made things easier.

Russell Kees, Age 1

Russell Kees, standing with a chair

This is clearly my uncle Russell Kees, probably when he probably about one. He is clearly standing, but he looks like he needs the chair’s aid to do so. Russell was born in August 1927, so this photo appears to be from the summer of 1928.


Donna “Darling’s” puppy (on left) Gypsie.

Next is a photo of Gypsie, Donna’s Pekinese, as a puppy of 5 weeks. With her is a littermate. We’ve seen Donna and Gypsie before. When Donna and her show were in Canada, having pictures taken while scantily clad in the snow, Donna had Gypsie with her. (See the Donna Darling Collection Part 9[ii].)

Donna & Gypsie

Donna “Darling” and her dog Gypsie circa 1926

We also see Donna holding Gypsie in what appears to be a beach on a cold day. Donna is wearing a stylish hat and coat.

Donna & Friend

In this photo, Donna is with an unknown woman. I’ve seen this woman in enough pictures that I’m sure she is a regular in Donna’s show. Donna was always keen to keep other people’s names out of her acts, so determining who this is for sure may be difficult. For now, I’ll call her “Woman Alpha.”

An unknown couple that were friends of Donna Darling and Sammy Clark in the late 1920s.

Friends of Donna

The next photo is of Woman Alpha with a man. For the sake of keeping track of them, I’m going to call him Man Alpha and the two of them Couple Alpha. I suspect this is probably a ferry.

Sammy Clark (Amsterdam( is on the left and Donna “Darling” (Montran) is on the right. The couple between them is unknown, but I call them the “Couple Bravo.”

Donna, Sammy, and Friends

Next is a photo of four people in swimsuits. Sammy is on the left; Donna is on the right. I’m confident the other woman is “Woman Bravo.” As such, I’m going to call the man with her “Man Bravo” and the two of them “Couple Bravo.”

Donna, Sammy, and the Gang (c. 1926)

The group of six people includes an unknown young man, Donna “Darling” (Montran), the man from who I call “Couple Bravo,” Sammy Clark, the woman from who I cal “Couple Bravo,” and a final unknown man in a shirt, tie, suit and hat.

This group of six includes an unknown young man, Donna “Darling,? “Man Bravo,” Sammy Clark, “Woman Bravo,” and a final unidentified man in a shirt, tie, suit, and hat.

I suspect that Couple Alpha and Couple Bravo are the same couple, but I can’t tell for sure. I’ll be looking for more evidence regarding their identification in future research.


Besides this blog post, I’ve added metadata of this information to the photo images using Vivid Restore.  More about that in a later blog.


  • Over the past few months, I’ve begun to improve my skills in photo identification. Clearly, there are two couples that should be identified. Are they the same couple? I’ll try to do so in the coming months.


[i] The originals images were: DSCN1473 (original).tiff, DSCN1523 (original).tiff, and SCAN0188 (original).tiff. Additionally, I have a tiff of each of these photos.

[ii] I didn’t learn that “the Peke” was actually Gypsie, the Pekinese dog until much later.

The Great War – Over There – 7 April 1918

By Don Taylor

Wartime Wednesday
This week, I continue with images from the New York Times this time from “over there.”

(© Underwood & Underwood.)New York Times – 7 April 1918

This first image is one of the most iconic images I know of regarding the Great War.  The desolation of the landscape, the smoke of the diesel engines of the tank, the trench fortifications, all add together to provide an image of war.

Next, American Troops in the Aisne Sector, believed now to
be among those fighting side by side with the French and
British against the German Drive halting on a
hillside for “chow.”
New York Times – 7 April 1918

I found the photo of the American troops eating “chow” on a hillside very interesting.  It doesn’t appear that any of the people are interacting. No smiles, just serious eating or personal contemplation gazing off in the distance.

These soldiers didn’t know that a few weeks later, on May 27th, the Germans would have a major attack along the Aisne River and overrun the French and British positions along a forty-mile front.

The French, owing to the scarcity of horses, making
increasing use of dog teams.  Here is an American husky
hitched tandem fashion to one of the new French rubber-tired
 ammunition carts in use on the Front.
New York Times – 7 April 1918

Finally, I am reminded that “necessity breeds invention.” According to Wikipedia, the first practical pheumatic tire went into production in 1888, Thirty years later they found use in ammunition carts and, as we can see, gained further use as the basis for dog drawn transportation. For some reason, this image brings a smile to my face. I can visualize myself riding in a cart like this. It would be fun today, but, I’m sure, wasn’t fun in 1918 France.

An image of the entire page in context is available from The New York Timespages on  My images for this date are here.

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