In September of 1950 little sister Martha came on the scene, and it was my idea to photograph the girls and a Christmas branch from our tree with three spherical ornaments and vignette the girl’s pictures into the ornaments. This was a 5-exposure card: one printing the tree branch with the centers of the balls left unexposed, then projecting one at a time the three girls into the vignetted balls. Then the Merry Christmas and The Kimmells 1950 were exposed through a mask.
In 1951 Kimray was making its place in the market, but sales did not support both me and those who were assembling and selling valves. I decided to take a consulting job to put beans on the table. The job was building a comprehensive well testing unit for Findley Engineering Service Company. Bill Findley of the company actually stayed in our house during most of 1951 and helped with the construction of the unit. By working 10 – 12 hours a day at $2.00 an hour, we were able to eat and pay our bills. Christmas was approaching, and the unit was not finished. Findley didn’t want me to take time to make a Christmas card, so he used my camera to take a snap shot of the family in the den. The picture was a one-shot enlargement – Merry Christmas and The Kimmells 1951 imprinted by lettering Merry Christmas and The Kimmells on glass and using it as a mask. This is only one of two one-shot cards in the collection.
In 1952, Vera had the idea that it would be nice to feature the three girls looking at a star. We set a photoflood lamp on a high stand and posed the girls looking at it. The calligraphy and star were printed full-sized on a piece of kodalith and used as a mask to imprint the notation on the card.
The card for 1953 was again a jointly developed idea. First Lutheran Church had just refinished the pews, and we decided to take the picture while it was still light outside so the stained glass would show in the pictures. We put the three girls in the front pew with a permanent kneeler and highlighted them with photofloods that gave a contrast between the church sanctuary and the three girls. It took several pictures to get them all with a worshipful expression and with hands folded properly. I remember – they always wanted to do their own thing!
In 1954 Kay broke her arm while riding in a friend’s car that had a minor accident. It was her left arm, so she could still write and color and pretty much take care of herself. With the necessary photographic capabilities, we built a fire in the fireplace in the new den at the back of the garage and had the girls hold a piece of chalk in a writing position. We then matched the script of Merry Christmas and the exclamation mark to terminate at the end of the chalks, which they were holding. This was a fun card to do.
I think that this is the 1877 Skinner Bible. Glen Skinner was Vice President of Black Sivals & Bryson at the time I worked for them. He died shortly after I started Kimray; and his wife, Lucille, gave me their family Bible. (Kay has the Bible now.) The idea was to have Barbara read the Bible to her two younger sisters at a table with a candle.
In 1956 we decided to venture into a rather elaborate “table-top” card. We had acquired a nice, silver pair of pan balances, and we decided to use them to state a full measure of Christmas joy. Each of the girls was photographed independently, posed as on the card. The prints of the girls were about 10” high, carefully cut out and attached to props so that they would appear to be standing (Martha sitting). Then the scales with the decorations and the girls were set up in front of a draped window on the dining room table and rephotographed. The trick here was to create shadows that would make it appear that the girls were in a three-dimensional situation.
In contemplating a card for 1957, it occurred to Vera and me, the term “joyous noel” had three “o’s.” The three o’s could be used as little picture frames for the three girls, so we designed the card. The border is a composite of two pictures of holly, which I photographed against a flat, black background. The prints of the rows of holly were assembled for the border and rephotographed. Pictures of the girls were arranged in a precise geometrical position to fit the “joyous noel.” This was a three-exposure card.
By 1958 Martha was the last to know about Santa Claus. It was Vera’s suggestion that we take their picture in front of the den fireplace and place on the card as a notation, “Now we are all in the know.”
In the fall of 1959, Barbara went to Stillwater as a freshman at Oklahoma State University, and there was considerable telephone communication between the gals at home and the one at school! Vera’s contribution to the card was showing the girls using the telephone, and I put them in an outline of the state of Oklahoma with a bow on the handle.