And no, we're not related!
Every photograph I own is a favorite for one reason or another. This photograph is my favorite because my Grandfather, Edward J. Greene, was the photographer.
When I get my children to sit still long enough to go over the things they would like to have when I'm gone they agree on most everything, except this photograph. All three of them want this one, the original.
That's Clark Gable between takes on the set of the movie San Francisco (1936). It's just after the earthquake scene where Blackie Norton (Clark Gable) is searching San Francisco for Mary Blake (Jeanette MacDonald) and believes she is dead. He and Father Tim (Spencer Tracy) find Mary at a Salvation Army Camp where she is comforting the mother of a dead child, in song of course.
I've heard the stories of my Grandfather's friendship with both Gable and Myrna Loy (also pictured on the vehicle above). It was said that Gable and my Grandfather exchanged Christmas presents every year. Each got the other the same bottle of whiskey (an inside joke?).
It is also said that they spent a lot of time together at Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F). In those days the store didn't market youthful apparel as it does today. It was a "real" man's store. A store for the rugged outdoors man.
The family story goes that Gable and my grandfather spent a lot of time at the bar in A&F. I have found no historical reference to a bar in the store, but it had everything else.
"Where the Blazed Trail Crosses The Boulevard," read the sign outside the Madison Avenue store. The basement housed an armored shooting range while on the mezzanine (main floor), there was paraphernalia for skiing, archery, skin-diving, and lawn games.
The second through fifth floors were reserved for clothing that was suitable for different climates or terrains. A&F outfitted Charles Lindbergh for his historic flight across the Atlantic.
On the sixth floor, there was a picture gallery, a bookstore (focused on sporting themes), a watch repair facility and a golf school (fully equipped with a resident professional).
The seventh floor was recognized as the finest gun department in the world. It included a gun room, stuffed game heads, and hundreds of shot guns and rifles. It's said that Ernest Hemingway bought the gun he used to committed suicide in this department.
The eighth floor was dedicated to fishing, camping, and boating. The fly-and bait-casting instructor had a desk on this floor and gave lessons at the pool, located on the roof. The fishing section of the store alone was stocked with over 48,000 flies and more than 18,000 fishing lures.
On the roof, Fitch had ordered the construction of a log cabin; he often used it as a townhouse. Beside it, there was a casting pool where customers tested the company's collection of rods and flies.
How close were my Grandfather and Gable? I don't really know. Grandfather worked for MGM, and was associated with the vehicle above. That I can substantiate. I have photographs of Gable and Myrna Loy. This one taken by my Grandfather. That I can substantiate. Clark Gable hung out in A&F. That I can substantiate. Were they drinking buddies? Family lore I can't substantiate, but they met on at least one occasion, to take this photograph. Yes, I'll chase the leads and perhaps one day have an answer. Until then, it's a pretty good family story and Gable has a great Smile For The Camera.
Wikipedia - Abercrombie and Fitch History. Accessed on 08/08/2008.
History. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. Accessed on 08/08/2008.
A&F Catalog Cover. ca. 1909. Edward Brewer. Wikipedia. Accessed on 08/08/2008.
Clark Gable by Edward Jesse Greene. Print. ca. 1935/36. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.