My Dad in 1913

This is the second-oldest photo I have of my dad. According to an annotation on the back, it was taken on Essex Street in Brooklyn in the fall of 1913. (View the full-size photo.)

I don’t know who the little girl is. She could be one of my dad’s sisters, but given that his eight siblings were older, I doubt it—one of his sisters would likely be taller.

In any case, the two of them are beaming as they pose in front of a pair of Flying Merkel motorcycles (slogan: “If it passes you, it's a Flying Merkel”).

I wish I knew the backstory behind this photo. Who took it? Who are the two people whose shadows appear on the left side of the shot? Who owned those bikes?

Those details are lost forever. But what I do know is that within a few years, my dad would be singing in Nickelodeons—and that a few years after that, he’d move to California, where his careers in acting and radio would begin.

As for his wife—my mom—she would’t be born for another six years.