Color photo from ca. 1942

1942 Minicolor print front v2I’ve recently seen a few color photos from World War II, but I thought that must have been a rare, expensive, and exceptional technology. Today I found a small (2¼ by 3¼ inch) color photo of my grandmother, Harriet (Askew) Prettyman, from around 1942.

The photo is of Harriet (on the right) and an unidentified woman (perhaps Valborg Marie “Vollie” Berdahl) with an unidentified man (perhaps Harriet’s half-uncle and Vollie’s future husband, William Leighton “Bill” Askew) between them, sitting on a sandy beach. The women are are barefoot and are wearing two-piece swimsuits, and the man is wearing trunks, a white t-shirt, sandals, and has a towel over his neck. The two women are each holding a slice of watermelon. There’s a bottle of what is presumably tanning oil next to Harriet’s feet, and a pair of sunglasses to the left of the other woman.

1942 Minicolor print front v2

1942 Minicolor print back

There’s no date on the photo, but there are a few clues:

  • The photo was taken at a sunny, sandy, presumably Pacific Ocean beach (Harriet first came to California in 1941);
  • Harriet’s hair is done in a style I’ve only seen her wear in photos from 1941 to 1943;
  • It looks like Harriet is going for the look Betty Grable had in one of her promo shots (from the 1942 Song of the Islands, I believe—see below);
  • The back of the photo states “This is a MINICOLOR PRINT made by EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY”—a format offered by Kodak beginning in 1941.
Betty Grable, ca. 1942

Betty Grable, ca. 1942

Kodak Minicolor print ad 1941

Kodak Minicolor ad, 1941

Kodak Minicolor print ad 1942

10 thoughts on “Color photo from ca. 1942

    • Good eye! Well, that’s a rather large hint, given that it appears to be on her left ring finger…. Can you tell if it’s her engagement ring or her wedding ring?

      Harriet told me only a little about meeting Bill (Bill Askew and Bill P came to visit Harriet when they were in town), and nothing about his proposal or their engagement. Do you know any of these details?

      My guess is that this pushes the date to around 1944 (if it’s an engagement ring), or obviously after June, 1945, if it’s her wedding ring.

      Sleuth on!

      • Michael…………….We got together for Father’s Day, June 16th, 2013 at Big Pine Lake and my father John Gordon Askew and my mother Geraldine C. Askew both thought the man between Vollie and Harriet on the beach is Bill Prettyman. I will forward the picture to Bill Askew’s children who all live in the Sacramento area to see what they think. My parents did think the women on the left was Vollie. They didn’t think it was Sis and Pete Engh.

        Steve Askew

        • Hi Steve,

          Thanks for the note. I haven’t seen enough photos of young Bill Askew and Vollie to be able to tell on my own. I’m nearly certain the man isn’t Bill Prettyman (my grandfather), but I’d be very interested to hear what Bill Askew’s children have to say. Hope your Father’s Day was a good one!


  1. Engagement rings are the big deal. Wedding rings are in many cases just a band. But it usually matches the engagement ring and makes the set and I believe that was the case with Mom. Doesn’t Polly have both rings? I think you are right about it being Bill and Vollie. They were going to have a big wedding but it goy put off. When Dad hopped three military planes and flew straight through the only ones around were Frank and Florence and so they were best man and bridesmaid. As you see in the pictures in front of the church.

  2. Picture at the beach Vollie, Bill Prettyman and Harriet. I have a picture of Vollie (Mom) seating on a log taken that day. I think it is baby oil in the bottle that’s what we put on our bodies in the 50’s.

    I live in Sacramento and my daughter Perrie & family live in San Mateo. I am down in the bay area a lot. We would love to meet you.


    • Hi Diane,

      Pleased to meet you! I’m so glad you found my blog and left a comment. I’d very much like to meet you, too. My wife and I live in Berkeley, and swing by Sacramento several times a year. We’ll have to find a way to meet up in the not-too-distant future.

      So you also think that’s Bill P. in the middle? Steve thought so, too, but he looks so unlike my grandfather from all the other photos I have of him from that time period. It sounds like you’re sure it’s not your dad, so either I’m wrong about that being my grandfather, or maybe it’s yet someone else. I know that a boyfriend named Clyde followed Harriet out to California and wanted to marry her, so that would be my next guess. It looks like I’ll be spending some time this weekend comparing photos to get to the bottom of this!

      Great to hear from you!


  3. Valborg Marie “Vollie” Berdahl then Bill P and Harriet. My mom has the same photo. Your blog is wonderful. Thank you for all your hard work.

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