by Joan M. Mohr
Andreas Brown Award Photography and Photographers
San Diego Historical Society 1987 Institute of History
I share with many people the feeling that there is a sweetness and consistency to light that falls into a studio from the north sky that sets it beyond any other illumination. It is a light of such penetrating clarity that even a simple object lying by chance in such a light takes on an inner glow, almost a voluptuousness. This cold north light has a quality which painters have always admired, and which the early studio photographers made the fullest use of. It is this light that makes some of the early studio portraits sing with an intensity not bettered by later photographers with more sophisticated means at hand.1
THE four Blackfoot warriors dressed in doeskin hides and decorated with intricate patterns of war paint had been sitting rigid for hours. Beyond them towered an amphitheater of cliff under the rich blue Montana sky. Lou Adelaide Bigelow squinted into the sun, and then looked back at the waiting men. She rubbed her hazel eyes with her fingertips to ease the strain, and tried not to dwell on the heat. If she felt this hot, she could not imagine how the Indians fared.
This had always been the one aspect of Roland Reed’s sessions that she liked the least. He took forever with his subjects. Reed had a reputation as a perfectionist, and Lou knew why. Everything had to be perfect, from the pose to the background.2 It was easy to find the correct light up here in the clear Rocky Mountains. Montana skies looked unlike anything she had known before, so crystalline, so perfectly blue.
Reed glanced up at the sky, then down to the crest of the hill and back into the camera. By his attitude, Lou could tell he was ready for the exposure. She held her breath. Lou continued to be amazed that Roland Reed had asked her to tag along with him. Why would the famous National Geographic and Sunset Magazine Indian photographer want her? Just assisting in the darkroom back in the Kalispell, Montana studio had been enough of a learning experience for her; but now, even that would change. All day Lou had been confused and excited. Would she have the courage to do what he asked? Could she leave her family again to follow this famous man all the way to California? In her heart, she knew the decision had been made the minute Reed suggested they become partners. The shutter clicked.
Watching the husky Blackfoot braves amble slowly down the mountain trail that day in 1913, Lou Adelaide Bigelow could not possibly have realized what lay in store for her in the coming years. She only knew that she, like her younger sister Ada, had always been different from other women their age and that they were truly their father’s daughters.
Lou thought of St. Joseph, Missouri and the bicycles that her father, Lyman, had proudly presented to his children. Lou, Ada, and their little brother, Herbert, glided down the street on these new contraptions giggling, their chestnut hair blowing loosely in the breeze. Lyman Bigelow watched, his face lit with a father’s pride. But the neighborhood women frowned and whispered as they saw the two young Bigelow girls pass by, their skirts tucked tightly around their legs. Herbert never seemed to surprise the neighbors as much as his older sisters, Lou and Ada.3 The girls’ father only laughed, making them feel even more special.
This was nothing new. The Bigelows had always been known for their eccentricities. Lyman, the talented patriarch, invented the Bigelow Revolving Photographic Background, which he sold years earlier to the Scoville Manufacturing Company. Later, this invention would become an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution. After he discovered, patented, and sold the Bigelow Calcinated Retouching Flour, a Mr. Eastman from New York had invited Lyman to come to work for Eastman’s company.4 But like his daughter Lou, Lyman Bigelow was too independent and greatly enthralled by the possibilities for studio photography to accept the offer; he turned it down.
By the time Lou Adelaide was born on November 24, 1884, Lyman had become known for his beautiful studio portraitures in both Detroit, Michigan, and St. Joseph, Missouri. His wife, Ada C. Dickenson, had also been interested in photography. Earlier, she moved from New York to Detroit, hoping to find a job as an assistant in a photography studio. Ada became Lyman’s studio assistant four years before she became his wife.
The Bigelow women all worked with Lyman in his studio, but Lou, the eldest child, showed the most talent. She even proved to be the most help. Patrons preferred dealing with “Rosebud,” as she became known, because of Lou’s great enthusiasm and interest.5 She had a boundless energy making her seem larger than her five-foot, four-inch frame.
Lyman Bigelow always found enough money to employ a housekeeper, since the Bigelows never seemed to have enough time for “such things.” But it was “such things” that young ladies were expected to know, and Lou was not the least bit interested in cooking. Somehow, housework never mattered, either. She preferred to look through the lens or develop a clear image to baking a cake or sweeping, the porch. Because of their endless curiosity, the chores just never seemed to get finished when left to the young Bigelow women.
This same Bigelow curiosity finally brought Lyman, his wife, Ada, and Lou to Ronan, Montana for a try at homesteading.
Where to go was decided by an article in the evening paper, which stated that the government would, on a certain date, open to settlement the lands of the Flathead Reservation in Montana. All veterans of the Civil War were privileged to sign their applications by mail, which would relieve me from the crowd at the recording station at St. Ignatius, Montana. The town was flooded with people, and hundreds were forced to camp in the streets. My luck held, and I secured good accommodations.6
Lyman and Lou opened another studio in nearby Ronan. The family shrunk to Lou and her parents since Herbert and sister Ada had earlier married and moved away. The family homestead, located four miles outside of town, became Lou’s second love. She discovered shortly after graduation from high school that she preferred the life of the photographic studio to everything else. She corresponded with male friends and socialized from time to time, but the camera always seemed to occupy her thoughts.
The way light was caught in time and developed into an image in the darkroom fascinated Lou. She had an eye for shadow and texture, and, though Lyman approached portrait photography with a technical touch, Lou’s innate artistic sense soon outstripped her father’s capable talents. She spent far less time setting the shot, and yet she seemed to know the proper amount of light and shadow to weave into a pose. She combined this talent with a feel for how long an exposure should be. These skills dumbfounded Lyman, who had spent years perfecting the use of studio light and camera angles. The professional combination of father and daughter talents soon became well known throughout the area surrounding Ronan.
One day, an elegantly dressed gentleman stopped at the studio reception desk and demanded to see the proprietor. He carried a massive portfolio in his arms, and appeared to be in a hurry. As the two Bigelow photographers hurried from their studio darkroom, the gentleman announced that he was Roland Reed. “I was most surprised to hear that there was a photography studio in this area,” he continued. Set behind the spectacles resting on the bridge of his nose were two piercing blue eyes. He explained his need for studio prints to be made on an enormous scale. Reed had been commissioned to photograph and produce life-sized Indian portraits, and he needed their help.7
In the months that followed, the Bigelows befriended Roland Reed and developed prints of his photographs. Reed’s commission to photograph the Blackfoot Indians had been secured for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. He already purchased a well stocked studio back in California to enlarge his prints. Such a project had never occurred to Lou. Just hearing Roland Reed describe his adventures filled her with excitement. When Reed finally asked Lyman for permission to take Lou on to Kalispell, Montana to help with the printing process, Lou was more than enthusiastic. Lyman had given his daughter all the knowledge a father could, and he knew that Reed would be able to teach her new ways of seeing through the lens of a camera. Lyman Bigelow agreed to let his eldest daughter go.
Set off at midnight at the touch of President Woodrow Wilson, 3,000 miles away, a rainbow of light suspended 1,500 feet in midair, covering an area of three rows in the sky and punctuated by the bursting of bombs, flashed the news near and far that the Panama-California Exposition had been officially opened and that San Diego with her Magic City was ready to play host to the world for the coming 365 days.8
Roland Reed’s exhibition opening became an immediate triumph. Orders were continually placed for his life-sized Indian portraits, and within a few short weeks, demand far outstripped supply. The photographer and his assistant, Lou Bigelow, worked frantically the following months filling these orders, but this pace left little time for anything else in their lives. Through the weeks and months following the exposition opening, Reed became bored and impatient. After all, he was a photographer, not a print-maker. His heart remained in the Montana mountains with the Indians he left behind, not in Southern California confined to a studio.
Lou, however, felt content. The studio had been supplied with every piece of equipment imaginable. She loved the California weather, and the island of Coronado quickly became home. Only one thing concerned her: Reed’s talk of a partnership remained just that, talk. Finally, in his impatience to return to his field photography, Roland Reed agreed to part with the Coronado studio at 1115 Orange Avenue, and all of its equipment, for only a small down payment. Lou Adelaide Bigelow had become a businesswoman.9
She did little to change the studio since it had the perfect north light that she needed, but she couldn’t decide what to name it. Somehow, the name, “Lou Adelaide Studios” sounded silly. Lou decided to take her father’s middle name, and by the close of 1915, a sign bearing the name “Lou Goodale Bigelow, Camera Artist” hung outside the centrally located Coronado studio.
The workshop across from the Coronado Bank Building seemed to be designed especially for a photographer. It faced the street, with the reception desk directly across from the entry way. Along the south wall the entire length of the studio ran a row of windows that slanted to meet the ceiling at the roof. The opposite wall had been completely wood-paneled. This side of the studio remained conspicuously bare except for a large library table. Unable to move the mammoth Kodak camera abandoned by Roland Reed, Lou left it facing west to a simple chair with a backdrop.10 At the rear of the studio the washroom substituted as a darkroom filled with dripping prints hung crisscrossed from clotheslines.
Later, Lou had many separate pieces of furniture built for her by local carpenters. She designed false pillars, columns, and backdrops similar to stage props she had seen as a child to give even more atmosphere to her pictures.11 Despite all of these new additions, however, clients still preferred one studio set over all others: the patio area behind the building. In the center of the patio stood a pepper tree under an archway of firebrick. This background, combined with the photographer’s Maryland setter and collie, came to be considered one of the most beautiful uses of settings on the west coast.
In 1917, Lyman and Ada joined their enterprising daughter. All three, together again, moved into a house located directly behind the studio at 1034 B Avenue in Coronado.12 Mr. Bigelow helped Lou run the studio until he retired in 1921, when Nadine Robinson, Lou’s niece, arrived from Kansas to learn the family business.
During the war years, the Hotel Del Coronado, located one city block south from the Bigelow Studio on Orange Avenue, became one of the most popular resort hotels on the Pacific coast. The rich and famous from the west coast as well as back east and Europe escaped the cold winter months at home by relocating to the Hotel Del Coronado. Soon, friends and relatives followed these “snowbirds” to their refuge attending society balls, polo matches, and other social affairs given at the Hotel.
Within two years, Miss Bigelow knew all her neighbors and the hotel staff.13 Two of her acquaintances became very important to her studio career. Eileen Jackson, society columnist for the San Diego Union, often covered these gala affairs, as well as small, private parties given by noteworthy visitors to the San Diego area. It seemed to Lou that Eileen knew just about everyone of import to either visit or live in San Diego. Eileen often worked in tandem with the public relations person at the Hotel Del Coronado, Cora Moreland, who wrote newspaper releases for the Hotel. Cora’s position brought her into daily contact with the national press. Many columnists from other parts of the country relied upon Cora for information covering their own local vacationing society.
Almost immediately, Bigelow Studios entered into a working relationship with these two women.14 Lou received hotel visitors who wanted their photographs taken. With her customers’ approval, these prints, in turn, found their way to both Eileen Jackson and Cora Moreland for publication. Although Lou Goodale Bigelow never received payment for these reprints, the name of her studio appeared under photographs of the rich and famous in newspapers around the country. By the early 1920s, the patrons of the Hotel Del Coronado flocked to the Bigelow studio to get their pictures taken by “that talented lady photographer,” Lou Goodale Bigelow.
Through Cora Moreland, Lou became acquainted with another Coronado photographer, Mr. Harold Taylor. He had a permanent studio in the Hotel Del Coronado, and was quite famous for his action shots of men racing polo ponies, their mallets raised high, or of ladies at lawn parties smiling from under large-brimmed hats. Lou often recognized his pictures next to her own studio photographs in Eileen’s local society column.15 The combination of these two different styles gave Eileen’s column much more impact. With many aspects of their professional lives in common, the two photographers quickly became close friends.
When Miss Lois Jaffa, daughter of San Francisco society people, arrived at the Hotel with her racehorse, Coffee John, on September 2, 1922, Harold captured the young lady streaking by on horseback, head down, on the beach. But the Lou Bigelow’s picture of the young debutante sitting astride her superb mount with an air of careless supremacy became the hit of the national papers. Later in the year, Miss Jaffa won both the Tijuana and Reno racing seasons.
Although Miss Bigelow knew and liked many of the people she photographed, she seldom accepted their invitations to socialize, unless she was needed to take photographs. She preferred working into the night or socializing with the business people who lived and worked near her in Coronado.
Her day started early, about 5:30, first with a regimen of exercise, a large breakfast, and then a quick romp with the family collies. She loved those dogs and took them with her everywhere. Then she would race across the back alley and into work. Never did she seem bored with her work. It was her life and she loved spending a lot of her time at it.16
One day, as Lou readied the studio for a photographic session, a tall, slender beauty walked into the reception area. Nadine Robinson, Lou’s niece and assistant, led the young woman into the work area, seating her in front of the large, old camera. The young woman’s name was Mrs. Earl Winfield Spencer, Jr., wife of a naval commander on North Island Naval Station. Lou posed her in profile, moving the two side lamps around to catch the straight, regal nose, the soft, dark hair, the long eyelashes, and the high cheekbones. Mrs. Spencer moved when directed while gazing off into the distance.
Lou slipped the glass exposures from the security of their envelope and locked them into a wooden frame. She slid the frame into a space at the rear of the ancient camera, and then bent to peer through the camera lens. This woman seemed aloof, perhaps even a little melancholy. Lou Bigelow gave instructions to the young bride, moving her this way and that, until they both agreed on the shot.17 Lou took several exposures, flashing the bulb at the end of the camera bellows. She moved the bellows backward and forward until the desired image came into focus. When the moment seemed correct, she lifted her head from the camera and counted. Lou then slowly squeezed the bulb held in her palm, completing the shot.
After the young Mrs. Spencer had said her good-byes, Lou Goodale Bigelow removed the exposed plates from the camera. She placed them against a sensitized paper and loaded them into yet another frame. The frame then became attached to a printer. This machine, sitting in the rear of the studio, had to be exposed to light in order to transfer the image to paper. During this process, phantom forms slowly turned into the hoped-for negatives of the subject. Lou held her breath as she watched the subtle lines and shapes take form. Once the image showed itself, the photograph could still be ruined by overexposure. Lou let her sense of light and shadow dictate the amount of light needed.18
In the darkroom, the negative print had to first be placed into a tray of developing solution. Lou Goodale Bigelow could not have known as she watched the image of Mrs. Spencer slowly take form that this was destined to be the most important photograph of her career. Under the yellow safelight, the young woman’s face in the photograph took on a mysterious glow. The print had to be left in this mixture for two to three minutes, and then quickly moved into a tray of stop wash. This liquid solution arrested any further development. Lou proudly looked overhead at her day’s work dangling from the clotheslines. All the poses proved successful, but none was more appealing than that of the commander’s young wife.19
Sometimes during sessions with patrons, Lou would want an outdoor setting. For these backgrounds, she often used the wishing well in San Diego’s Balboa Park, the lawns surrounding the Coronado Wegeforth home, or the Japanese Gardens of the Hotel Del Coronado. These field trips gave Lou yet another outlet for her interest in photography: teaching. She began to instruct amateur camera enthusiasts on the use of shadow and light in location photography.
Most of her students already had a sense of the science of the process. They could time the exposures to get a fairly decent shot, but Lou never bothered. She fixed her shot and stared and then just took it; no timing, in fact, nothing technical about it. When you saw the picture, though, it was always special compared to the others. She just saw things differently, that’s all.20
The Bigelow family grew larger in Coronado. Sister Ada and her family had arrived in the mid-Twenties, and brother Herbert settled in Coronado soon after that.21 Ada and Lou loved to go for quick drives into the back country. Neighbor children often accompanied them. Her “special car” invited stares, but townspeople got used to seeing Lou, always dressed in either tan or brown, drive by with a carload of children and family pets.22 She also loved to drive up the coast to see a photograph exhibition or to meet old friends who lived in Los Angeles. Her favorite trips, however, took her through the orange groves of El Cajon.
By the time she neared her thirty-fifth birthday, Lou Goodale Bigelow felt content with her successful career. She had friends living all over California, and she received a great deal of support from the family surrounding her in Coronado. Through the years, she had socialized with various men and, in certain cases, had continued correspondence with many who lived in other parts of the country. One gentleman, however, wrote to Lou consistently through the years.
Ben Krout remained in contact with Lou after the Bigelow family left St. Joseph, Missouri years earlier. He traveled the country extensively, sending her long letters that described his adventures as a salesman on the road. Ben liked the life of a salesman. He stopped in a different town practically every night, and connected with men like himself, swapping funny stories, or exchanging quick good-byes until he met them again somewhere else. But life on the road had also been rootless and lonely, and Ben Krout found each year harder than the last.
One day, Lou received a letter from Ben in which he asked Lou to meet him in Denver, Colorado. He would be there on another business trip, and hoped that they could catch up on old times. Happily, Lou did as Ben asked. They spent the week together touring the sights of Colorado, reminiscing about childhood days in Missouri. While they drove through the mountains, Ben proposed.23 Lou did not have to think very long before she accepted. Impulsively, they were married in Golden, Colorado and returned to Coronado, where an enthusiastic welcome awaited them.
The sudden marriage had not startled anyone, but the Bigelow family became concerned when Ben decided to quit his travels to become Lou’s business manager.24 Since the publication of the photograph of the Duchess of Windsor the preceding year, Lou had become nationally known, and her services been even more in demand. In 1937, Lou hired another assistant to help Nadine and Ben in the studio. Jeanette Atkinson knew how to paint portraits, and this talent, combined with her knowledge of photography, made Jeanette the perfect person to retouch prints at the Bigelow Studio.25 Bigelow Studio. 25
The three women worked very well together. They soon decided to open a small adjunct studio in La Jolla. Appointments would be set at the Coronado studio for specific days, when Lou and an assistant could be scheduled in La Jolla with private sessions. As the months passed, however, the La Jolla experiment became more and more of a headache.26 Most of Lou’s patrons still preferred to drive to Coronado. After one short year, the La Jolla studio closed, a miserable failure.
Ben also began to worry Lou. He stayed out evenings drinking with salesmen he had known before their marriage. Lou’s reluctance to socialize with clients irritated him, since he loved a good party. His drinking became a serious obstacle, and after several near accidents in the darkroom, Lou worried about Ben’s bumbling attempts to develop negatives. If prints became ruined, her business would begin to suffer. Vulnerable for the first time in her career because of the failure of the La Jolla studio, Lou began to fight with Ben. They remained in the house on B Avenue with Lyman and Ada, but the fights continued.27 As time passed, the relationship deteriorated until there seemed little left to salvage.28
Ten years after they were married, Ben Krout moved out of the Bigelow home. He remained close to Lou, but suffered from the effects of alcohol until his early death. Lou threw herself even further into her work, learning how to paint portraits from Jeanette Atkinson. Lou, a long-time citizen of Coronado, had become an established member of the San Diego business community. Her failed marriage seemed to deepen her interest in the art of photography and the developments that constantly occurred in the industry. Even so, the ancient Kodak continued to remain the cornerstone of her business, because she preferred the grainy textures she could produce with the camera.
Lou’s interest in portrait painting drew her into the use of color for the first time in her career. She and Ada still traveled the back roads of San Diego County, and during one of these painting sessions, Lou decided to buy land and retire near the El Cajon orange groves that she loved to paint. In 1947, with the memory of another photographer years ago who had done the same thing, Lou Goodale Bigelow left the studio in Coronado and all its equipment to her assistant, Jeanette Atkinson. 29
Lou moved to 1618 East Chase Avenue in El Cajon, situated on the slope of a hill overlooking the orange groves she enjoyed painting.30 Later in that same year, Ada and her husband joined Lou in El Cajon, where they purchased a house on the adjoining lot.
The two Bigelow sisters often sat for hours on Lou’s porch, talking while Lou painted the changing landscape. In the early morning haze, Lou would study the rising sunshine and try to capture the valley as it turned from a deep purple gray to a vast sunlit garden of coarse greens and yellows to a dull grayish blue at day’s end, when the sun’s rays were dying in the west. At dawn on one of these mornings, Ada arrived as usual to sit quietly and watch the rising sun over coffee with her sister. Instead, Ada discovered Lou lying lifeless in bed. Lou Goodale Bigelow died quietly in her sleep during the night.31
Eileen Jackson’s society columns are now only yellowed clippings in San Diego historical collections around the county, but the photographs that accompany them, though aging, remain a legacy to Lou Goodale Bigelow. Her talent for sensing the subtle effects of light and shadow upon the human face remains a mystery. In her camera studies, Miss Bigelow captured the character hidden within by revealing an inner light that only she could see.32 To this talent the people of San Diego County are both proud and indebted.
1. See Irving Penn’s Worlds in a Small Room, page 7, for this quotation. Irving Penn used similar techniques and studio equipment to pose and photograph people of many cultures the world over during the same period that Lou Goodale Bigelow photographed her subjects in Southern California. They both discovered the very same use of light and shadow, whether in California or Fiji.
2. It is explained by Roland Reed’s “Camera Scalps: Trophies of a Photographic Indian Campaign,” Sunset Magazine, June 1915, pages 1159 to 1163, that his photographic sessions with the Blackfoot and Piegan Indians could go on for hours, while they posed and he waited for the “perfect moment” for both attitude and light. Interestingly, he felt that the Indian subjects were extremely cooperative in his attempt to record them on film.
3. Herbert, who was four years younger than Lou and two years younger than sister Ada, is not mentioned in any of the family literature or discussions. In Lyman Bigelow’s A Self Biography, Herbert’s father does not once mention him. Neither does Herbert’s name appear in the list of surviving relatives in the San Diego newspaper obituaries for either Lyman or Lou Goodale Bigelow. During an interview conducted on October 2, 1985, Ms. Jeanette Atkinson, former assistant to Ms. Bigelow, explained Herbert’s peculiar absence. He had become estranged from the family after “borrowing” a large sum of money from the Bigelow household and leaving his wife and children behind in Coronado. It was only after the deaths of Lyman, Ada, and Lou Bigelow that Lou’s sister Ada Tilly found Herbert in Ben Lomond, California, where he lived with his second family, a family the Bigelows never knew.
4. An excellent explanation of Lyman Goodale Bigelow’s interest in photography and inventions, is found in Lyman Bigelow’s A Self Biography, pages 9 to 15. Unfortunately the biography was never published, and has been handed down from his daughter to her children.
5. This description remained consistent in all interviews conducted, but was best described by Nadine Robinson on October 5,1985, at her home. She remembers her aunt as a short, energetic woman who “chirped orders” in the studio while “tiptoeing bouncily.” The patrons felt comfortable with her and could be seen to physically relax in her presence. She had a reputation for being a real professional, especially when it came to handling children. Lou Goodale Bigelow was capable of entrancing children into showing the innocence and “inner light” that seldom came through unless they were totally trusting. These pictures often show a child clutching a favorite toy or petting one of the Bigelow family pets.
6. For a full description of the Bigelows’ move to Montana, see Lyman Bigelow’s A Self Biography, page 18.
7. Jeanette Atkinson explained in an interview on October 2, 1985 at her residence that Lou Goodale Bigelow often discussed this exciting meeting with the famous Indian photographer for National Geographic and Sunset magazine.
8. For an in-depth description of the opening ceremonies of the Panama-California Exposition, see the San Diego Union, January 1, 1915, page 1. Roland Reed’s life-sized photographs were displayed in the building referred to as the Indian Arts Building.
9. Clarence Alien McGrew, in City of San Diego and San Diego County: The Birthplace of California, II, page 337, has a short description of the beginnings of Lou Goodale Bigelow’s occupation of the studio at 1115 Orange Avenue, Coronado, California.
10. In an interview conducted with Eileen Jackson, former society columnist for the San Diego Union, on October 23, 1985, she explained that Reed left equipment he easily could have liquidated for cash, if he had wanted to do so. The Kodak camera he left for Lou Goodale Bigelow was, in turn, left to Jeanette Atkinson when Ms. Bigelow retired. Part of the reason it remained with the studio was not because of anyone’s generosity, but because of its huge size. Lou Goodale Bigelow purchased a small portable camera and its attachments for use in the field.
11. A discussion of her props can be found in the San Diego Union, August 2,1968 (no page number available).
12. For deed information pertaining to the purchase of the property known as 1034 B Avenue, Coronado, California, see the Index to Deed Books, Grantee A-C1, 1914 to 1927, page 696, B-21.
13. In Harold J. Peterson’s The Coronado Story, pages 123 to 124, the Orange Avenue businesses are described. Lou Bigelow’s studio was directly across the street from Ms. Lelah Elgin’s dress shop, which attracted wealthy patrons looking for elegant wear. Lelah and her husband, Fred Fuhrman, were Lou Goodale Bigelow’s landlords at the studio. They became lifelong friends. Connie and Winifred Taylor owned a decoration shop where Lou often purchased picture frames. Harold Taylor was their brother.
14. Mrs. Eileen Jackson, during an interview conducted on October 23,1985, explained that this three-way professional relationship among Lou Bigelow, Cora Moreland and herself was never one-sided. Cora helped to further the Hotel’s image and her own career by furnishing the eastern papers with photographs of the rich and famous at play. Eileen’s column was much more popular when it ran alongside a photograph. Never were any of these pictures reprinted without the Bigelow name appearing below. This, in turn, attracted new patrons to Lou Bigelow’s studio.
15. A long list of newspaper clippings using the Bigelow photographs as a centerpiece can be found at the Regional Center for History, San Diego State University, in the Society Book, number 275. The Jaffa photograph appears in an article from the society column, September 22, 1922, the Evening Tribune (no page number available). Within days, this picture was reprinted in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, among other cities.
16. This quote was taken during an interview with Ms. Jeanette Atkinson on October 2, 1985, at her residence.
17. This famous photograph can be seen in the Wall of History at the Del Coronado Hotel. When in 1936 King Edward VIII announced that he would abdicate to marry a Mrs. Wallis Simpson, Lou Bigelow remembered the twice-divorced woman she had once photographed as the naval commander’s wife, Mrs. Winfield Spencer. The world press was taken by surprise, with no good photograph. Lou gave a print to Eileen Jackson, and within days it appeared in papers around the world.
18. In an interview with Mr. Larry Booth at the San Diego History Center, held on November 3, 1985, Mr. Booth explained that these cameras were equipped to take several exposures. It would have been highly unlikely that Lou Goodale Bigelow, a professional photographer, would have taken less than six exposures.
19. The interview with Jeanette Atkinson, Bigelow Studio assistant, and the interview with Mr. Larry Booth, at the San Diego History Center, agree on the process of photography, printing, and developing described here.
20. This quote came from the interview with Lou Bigelow’s niece, Nadine Robinson, conducted on October 5, 1985, in San Diego, California.
21. According to Nadine Robinson, interviewed on October 5, 1985, Nadine’s mother Ada and her father settled kitty corner from the studio. Herbert brought his family from Missouri, but soon left Coronado under suspect circumstances. Ada Tilly had five children, which often caused money to be scarce. Lou helped the family with packages and contributed as often as needed.
22. During a discussion with both Nadine Robinson and Jeanette Atkinson, considerable time was given to Lou Goodale Bigelow’s idiosyncrasies. The Dort automobile was designed in cloverleaf fashion so that one entered between the two front seats to settle into a half-circular rear seat. The car, however, was chosen not for its unusual form, but for its tan color. Lou Goodale Bigelow owned only tan and brown clothes, and, it appears, purchased only items she felt would match her auburn hair. She also taught herself to read at age four, and continued to use peculiar self-taught pronunciations. Along the way, she picked up a habit of mixing her cliches, so that they came off as a mix of two cliches: “It was just like rolling off a molehill.”
23. The studio is listed in the 1937 San Diego City Directory under the name of Mrs. Lou G. Krout for the first and only time.
24. Six months before this trip, Lou, Nadine, and Lyman sat playing with an Ouija board. Nadine, teasing Lou, asked the board if Lou would ever marry. It surprised everyone by answering “Yes.” Then when Nadine asked where the wedding would take place, the board spelled out “Golden, Colorado.” Everyone laughed, especially since none of them even knew where Golden could be found on a map. They forgot about the incident. But on the day that Ben Krout proposed marriage, he also asked Lou where she wanted to get married, and she answered, “Golden, Colorado.” This story was told in an interview with Nadine Robinson on October 5, 1985, and verified by Jeanette Atkinson, who often heard the story repeated by those directly involved.
25. Jeanette Atkinson had been newly divorced; but besides needing her skills in artwork, Lou wanted to help her out, because Jeanette was the sole support for her children. Their relationship lasted for many years. It is interesting to note that from the interviews with Nadine Robinson, Jeanette Atkinson, and Eileen Jackson, one gets a sense that networking was a system already very familiar to the working and professional women in those years. The stronger, more successful women helped others along when it was possible.
26. Jeanette Atkinson, Lou Goodale Bigelow’s assistant, described these problems in an interview held on October 2, 1985.
27. Lyman Goodale Bigelow died on April 26, 1945 at the age of 98, according to the San Diego Union’s obituary section (no page number available).
28. Eileen Jackson, in an interview on October 25, 1985, explained that within Lou’s small, close circle of friends, it was common knowledge that she was unhappy with her husband’s drinking problems.
29. For more information, see J. Harold Peterson’s The Coronado Story, page 124.
30. This address, with a short description of the surrounding area, can be found in the obituary section of the San Diego Union, August 2, 1968 (no page number available).
31. The San Diego County Hall of Records Office, Death Certificates, on July 31, 1968 records the cause of death as myocardial infarction (heart attack). Nadine Robinson verified that it was her mother, Ada Tilly, who first discovered the body the following morning.
32. For background information concerning the Hotel Del Coronado, an interview was conducted on October 9, 1985, with the hotel historian, Mr. Steve Ayers, at the hotel’s Wall of History. Brian Coe’s Cameras From Daguerreotype to Instant Pictures, 1978, described a great deal concerning early cameras, photographic equipment, and techniques used by the first photographers and those who followed in their footsteps. The Genealogical Society Library was consulted for both Lyman and Ada Bigelow’s Revolution-era family background, but the information does not directly impact upon this subject and was therefore not included in the text of the paper. Also consulted for background information on the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 was the San Diego Union, January 1 through February 28, 1915.
Atkinson, Jeanette. Interview with author. San Diego, California, 2 October 1985.
Ayers, Steve. Interview with author. San Diego, California, 9 October 1985.
Bigelow, Lyman. A Self Biography. Self-published, 1925.
Booth, Larry. Interview with author. San Diego, California (San Diego Historical Society, Balboa Park), 3 November 1985.
Coe, Brian. Cameras From Daguerreotype to Instant Pictures. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1978.
Jackson, Eileen. Interview with author by telephone. San Diego, California, 23 October 1985.
La Farge, Oliver. The American Indian. New York: Western Publishing Co., 1973.
McGrew, Clarence Alien. City of San Diego and San Diego County: The Birthplace of California, II. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1922.
Obituaries. San Diego Union (April 26, 1945).
“Panama-California Exposition.” San Diego Union (January 1, 1915): 1.
Penn, Irving. Worlds in a Small Room. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 1974.
Peterson, Harold J. The Coronado Story. San Diego, California: Coronado Federal Savings and Loan Association, 1959.
Reed, Roland. “Camera Scalps: Trophies of a Photographic Indian Campaign.” Sunset Magazine, 34 (1915): 1159-1163.
Robinson, Nadine. Interview with author. San Diego, California, 5 October 1985.
San Diego City Directory. San Diego, California: San Diego Directory Co., 1937.
San Diego City Recorders Office. Index to Deed Books (1914-1927). Grantee A-C1: page 696, B-21. San Diego, California.
San Diego County Hall of Records. Death Certificates. San Diego, California. July 31, 1968.
San Diego Evening Tribune (September 22, 1922). Society Book of Clippings. San Diego, California: Regional Center for History at San Diego State University.
San Diego Union (August 2, 1968). Society Book of Clippings. San Diego, California: Regional Center for History at San Diego State University.
Wall of History, Hotel Del Coronado. Displays a newspaper clipping and photograph of Mrs. Wallis Simpson (newspaper name, article title, and page number all unavailable). San Diego, California.