Sue Stevenson sent me this postcard of four men:
In the front row are supposedly(left to right) Lance Melson (1907-1988) and Elmore Melson (1896-1938). It’s a real-photo postcard—a photograph with a postcard back.
Sue’s big question doesn’t concern the men’s identities, but the mysterious single glove on each man in the front row. Before looking at that puzzle, let’s backtrack and look at the other clues.
Let’s start with the postcard back. One of my favorite postcard sites is Playle’s Auction Site. It has an online directory that details the stamp box designs.
According to this site, the AZO box with upright triangles in the corners appeared from 1904 to 1918. Uh oh—if Lance Melson was born in 1908, he’d have to be 10 in this photo. That doesn’t add up.
The men’s clothing is a bit odd. Are their pants legs rolled up, or do they just have very wide cuffs? Cuffed pants were common on casual clothes in the early 20th century, but the cuffs on these pants are a bit extreme.
Neckties are the other interesting clothing detail. The man on the right in the front row wears a soft polka dot tie, a pattern that first appeared in the late 19th century. This style may be unique to his area, since it’s not the type of tie you’d see in most of the country in the early 20th century.
Based on a working date for this image between 1904 and 1918, it may depict Lance’s and Elmore’s fathers, rather than the boys. More family history information would be necessary to verify that conclusion.
As to the one glove? It’s curious that one man wears a glove on his right hand and the other on his left. This could indicate their dominant hands. I haven’t found other images like this, but I suspect these heavy leather gloves were worn for work. Or perhaps the men were just clowning for the camera.
Sue’s right about their ears, though. This facial similarity indicates the men are likely related.
If anyone else has a photo of men wearing one glove—decades before Michael Jackson made it fashionable—send it along to me.