Who was the “shutter bug,” Alfred James Bowers?
By Alan Mueller
An abundance of post card size photo’s in the
Greece historian's office file have the
notation, “Bower’s Collection”. This cryptic note always aroused my interest in
learning more about this basically uniform cache. A small amount of research and
some comments from long time Historic Society members revealed that the photo’s
were taken by one man, Albert James Bowers Sr. Born near Twinkenham, Englandabout 1878, he married a local girl by the name of Annie Mae i
n the early 1900’s.
Bowers, along with his wife and five year old son, immigrated to the U.S.A. in 1915 just after the start of World War I. They settled in Rochester and Albert obtained anentry job as a janitor at Eastman Kodak Park. They rented a Kodak house on DeweyAvenue only blocks from work. One year earlier Eastman Kodak had introduced thenew Autographic, bellows, folding camera. There was a clever innovation on theback of this camera. A small rectangular flap could be raised and a metal stylusremoved from a clip enabled the user to inscribe a small notation such as date andlocation on the undeveloped film.
By the following year Mr. Bower’s decided he want
ed one of the Autographic models(several styles were available). A model 1A could be had for the list price of $8.00 to$10.00 (not including the employee discount). For the next four or five years Bowers
would snap hundred’s of photo’s all over his neighborhood of the family’s newly
adopted country. He ventured to Irondequoit, Sea Breeze Park. Take an excursionboat to Glen Haven on the bay. He went into the city and visited Maplewood,
Highland and Genesee Valley Park’s. Closer at hand he and Annie Mae and young
Alfred Junior ventured to Ontario Beach Park or take a ride on the Manitou Trolley,with stops along the way.
Every outing produced more photo’s to his collection and
found their way into an album. While many duplicate copies would be sent to the
family and friends left behind in “The Old Country” to give them
a glimpse of howthe Bower
s were “getting on” in the new country. The years just before and during
the first World War would see a great change in Greece. In a few short years Greecewould forever be changed from a farming and rural community to a fast growing areaof street after street of tract homes beginning in the early nineteen twenties andcontinuing to the present.We are so fortunate to have this amazing collection of about one hundred images.Part of the collection being made available by Alfred Bowers Junior for use in theSociety's
publication “Eight Miles Along The Shore” by Virginia Tomkiewicz and
Shirley Cox Husted. The balance of the collection was donated by Alfred Juniorswidow Loretta.
ng collage of Bower’s photo’s is
just a tiny sampling from thisimportant treasure trove.