Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Camera District, Bromfield St., Boston, 1964




Zeff was on the second floor of what was still Boston's "camera district". It was the "camera district" back in the 1930's when my dad lived in Boston. Zeff didn't need a ground floor location because it was a pro supply place, catering mostly to the portrait and wedding studios. You could buy frames and wedding albums, and they'd get the albums gold stamped with the bride and groom's names because the guy who did it was on the second floor right across the street.

It was a place where you could get replacement dark slides for your sheet film holders. They even knew where to send the holders to get the felt light traps renewed, or put new hinge tape on the flaps.

Ektacolor film was new at the time but they carried lots of B&W film and papers and chemicals by Ansco, DuPont, Agfa, Gavaert, Luminos, and of course Kodak. Sheet film was stocked up to 8X10 but a few customers had 8X20 and 12X20 "banquet cameras". Only one emulsion for them was in stock. I got my supplies at cost and got some great deals from the other dealers on the street. The repair guy across the street flash synched some old shutters for me at next to nothing.

Then Murray came up with this bright idea of switching health insurance companies. I wasn't on the plan because frankly for what they were paying me I couldn't afford it. The snag they had was that in order to set up "a group" they needed one more person, me. It would save them all a bundle compared to individual coverage. I ran the figures (never hire a bright stock boy!) and concluded that if they all got together and paid my premiums for me they'd all still be money ahead. So would I...LOL They didn't go for it.

I started asking around and within a week I had a new job in a photo lab, and it was $20 more a week. A decent amount back in 1964! Twenty bucks would buy a 500 sheet box of 8X10 Luminos paper or a 100 roll bulk pack of 120 Gevapan, and in either case you still had enough change for lunch and a pack or two of Camels.

That's Leo with his ever present pipe, and the two girls in the office, I can't remember their names. I guess it was Leo's brother-in-law, Murray, that co-owned Zeff with him. There was another guy, fiftyish, who was a salesman also. I was the stock boy, delivery boy, that sort of thing.

I shot the pix with my just purchased Minolta Autocord.

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