Lance Avery Morgan was going through an old photo album when he ran across some striking pictures of his relatives. He was particularly taken with what looked liked candid shots of his family parading down Congress Avenue.
If your family grew up in midcentury Austin — in the time before malls — they likely shopped on Congress Avenue, dressed in their best attire.
“(One) photo is of my mother, older brother and my grandmother, who was in from San Antonio, in 1952,” Morgan said. “Of course, shopping on Congress was all there was then, and Monday through Saturday, everyone dressed up, as in these photos.”
Morgan, a native Austinite and magazine editor, wanted to pinpoint the photographer in question, since, as other local history lovers know, his parents were far from the only ones documented on the hoof in this way. Wisely, he checked with the Austin History Center, which supplied plenty of clues.
“According to community archivist Amanda Jasso and photo archivist Nicole Davis, it was likely taken by Studer’s Photography Studios, owned by Benjamin Studer, located at 916 Congress Avenue on the east side of the street,” he said. “It promoted the studio’s services. This was before instant development, so the likely subjects were given a business card to claim their photo at the shop. Studer’s had labs in Austin and several in San Antonio.”
Morgan showed the image with the stroller to his mother, who responded with sharp memories of that crisp winter day in 1952.
“We were all dressed up in our suits, and as you can see, my mother wore a hat with a veil,” Carolyn Nichols Morgan Montgomery said. “She was also wearing gloves — in fact we may have been shopping for gloves or a new dress. I, without gloves and a hatless head, represented a little rebellion. Not a surprise, since my mother called me Miss Independent growing up.”
You can’t understand New Austin without delving into Old Austin. One digital avenue for that quest is Austin Found, a series of historical images of Austin and Texas published at statesman.com/austinfound. We’ll share samples here regularly.