|George Ginsberg at Quaker Photos in the 1930's|
Everyone loved George, not Raymond.
Imagine yourself in 1920.
You have a small photography studio in Philadelphia
called Quaker Photo that you started by yourself. Work consists of commercial
projects like photographing the Philadelphia Police Department when they get
delivery of their new Chevrolet police cars or events like the sesquicentennial
in 1926 celebrating 150 years of independence. You have a wife and one daughter
and another on the way who, on May 22, 1927, became Beatrice Ginsberg, also known
as my mom.
|Quaker Photo Service Camera Truck |
George Ginsberg, my maternal grandfather was a marketing genius
before anyone even knew the word marketing. My evidence is his camera truck. An idea that was about 75 years ahead of his time and the tune up his business needed. Once he started driving his camera truck around, everybody knew Quaker Photo.
|George Ginsberg photographs the Philadelphia Police Department in 1940|
as they receive their new Chevrolet 1940's police cars
It was a simple idea. Pop understood that he needed to promote his photography company if he was to keep the cash flowing. Having recently moved from Bay Shore, Long Island to Philadelphia, Pop thought that the sesquicentennial celebrating the 150th year of our country would be a boon for business. He had
little money to advertise but he did have his truck that he used to haul the
heavy photographic equipment and lights to and from events. He wanted his phone number, Walnut 4444 to be synonymous with commercial photography in the city of brotherly love. This camera truck put his business into overdrive.
So, with a few
friends from Chevrolet and some wood, paint and spit, he put together the
Quaker Photo Truck. This enduring vehicle’s image has been part of my life
since I was a young boy. I never quite
realized his genius where promotion was concerned. Perhaps the truest test of
Pop’s genius and enduring legacy is that today in 2012, more than 15 years after his death at 96, and 112 years after his birth, I’m still thinking about him and telling stories of his life.
|The original Foto Truck from the early 20's |
He created this mobile marketing idea in the 1920’s and was decades ahead of
the Oscar Meyer Weiner mobile. He knew that he had to find a practical,
inexpensive way to get people to recognize his company and name and to easily
be able to find his business. Remember, this is a time when even the telephone and
radio was considered modern technology.
|George Ginsberg and his two daughters|
Annette and Bea
Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1930
I remember my grandfather regaling me with stories about how
many friends and new acquaintances he would make with his camera truck. He would pull up to take pictures for a client
in a new neighborhood and before he knew it, people would be standing outside
around his camera Chevrolet. It was the kind of camaraderie that helped him
instantly pulled people close to him. George was like a photographic magnet that
along with his larger-than-life personality, drew people close to him like honey to a bee. In a flash, Pop would draw you close and you were hooked. I still feel his presence around me everyday.
|Fanny Ginsberg and her two daughter's|
Bea (my mom) and Annette (my beloved aunt)
In Philadelphia on March 5, 1933
Pop built a business that still stands today, delivering
quality photographs at affordable prices. Of course today it is all digital but the same basic principle applies as you capture the moment.
I always marveled at the brilliance
and simplicity of my grandfather's promotional idea since it allowed him to literally be his own
advertising for his business. The truck was a moving advertisement that looked
like his camera and bellows on his 8X10 camera. It makes me shutter to realize how insightful this idea was almost 100 years ago.
|Letting George be George|
Doing his best Chaplin imitation
George Ginsberg was always a character. With his Charlie Chaplin mustache and his Groucho Marx personality, Pop could always find the sheer joy in every moment. As an orphan who came to the United States from Russia at age ten, by himself, you can imagine the life force that ran through his bloodstream. I'll doubt I'll ever meet another person in my life like Pop nor have a creative inspiration quite like him. His obit even ran in the NY Times when he died in 1996 that told the story of his penny philanthropy where he gave away a dollar or two to hundreds of charities.
Marketing like its 1920. Today there are vehicles promoting lobster business, ice
cream and of course hot dogs. A truck pulling an billboard with an ad is not an odd site. But there will never be a better marketer than
|Ice Cream Truck |
|Oscar Weiner Mobile|
George Ginsberg. Marketing genius circa 1920. And you can drive that idea straight to the bank.
|George Ginsberg and Jeffrey Slater|
Labels: Family Moments, Family Photos, George Ginsberg, old photographs Philadelphia, Photography, Quaker Photo