Daytona Beach, Florida, land of sand and surf and numerous little motels which fell victim to the wrecking ball over the years. Someone familiar with the Daytona Beach motel business was John G. Von.
He was born John G. von Feilitzch in 1906 in Germany. I'm not sure when he came to America, but he eventually settled in the Daytona / Ormond Beach area and became a photographer.
In the summer of 1993, my family and I traveled to Daytona Beach. I brought along some old postcards of my 1960's family vacations and noticed the name John G. Von listed as photographer. I looked in the phone book, was amazed to find his name, and gave him a call.
At first, he probably thought I was a nut, but we later became "pen pals" and Mr. Von sent me dozens of old postcards made from his photographs for clients in the Daytona area. In return, I sent him books on various subjects in which he expressed interest.
In the summer of 1994, I paid him a visit. During our conversation, I mentioned that my mother had an old snapshot of my father and a group of fishermen after they returned to Inlet Harbor from a day out fishing.
A 1965 vacation snapshot. My father, Harvey McCollum, holds the sign showing the date the photograph was taken.
Mr. Von told me he had been the official photographer for Inlet Harbor and, if I could identify the date and boat, he would look through his negatives and send me a print. (If you look closely, my father is holding a "ship's wheel" sign with the date. The other sign clearly shows the name of the boat.)
Another snapshot of my dad, Harvey McCollum, taken on the same day. He caught one of the large amberjacks in back.
So, sure enough, a few days later I received the photo below taken by John Von on August 12, 1965. You can't tell by these website reproductions, but Mr. Von's photo has much greater detail than the one above taken with the family Polaroid.
A photograph received 29 years after it was shot. What a coincidence that I happened to make friends with the photographer.
Mr. Von passed away in 1996, but I think he would be happy to know that some of his work lives on. You can view many of the postcards he gave me at www.daytonapostcards.com.
Update I....a reply from a viewer in Florida:
I came across your delightful web site while googling "John G. Von". Thanks for the pleasure.
I received a photo some years ago of the store I co-operate. Now a boat store but the original photo was from "John G. Von Studio" of the same property possible mid 60's as a A&P grocery store. The photo came from a poorly attired gentleman on a bicycle. He had stopped and was checking out the building while looking at something he carried. This went on for awhile as I was mistakenly thinking "another street person looking for a handout".....
He actually was trying to match photos he had saved from cleaning out a widow's garage to the actual building. We prize this photo and often share the shot with those that shopped the A&P or even worked inside.
730 U.S. 1
Holly Hill, Florida
Thanks, Monica, for sharing!
Update II from Donnie Moses of Atlantic Beach, Florida...
I remember almost every one of those motels as my family and many other families in our community would spend at least one week every summer there beginning in the early 1960s, progressing to a week early in the summer and a week later in the summer by the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. It will come as a surprise to some to learn that we lived just 90 miles away in Jacksonville yet went to Daytona to vacation instead of the beaches in the Jacksonville area.
In 1966 the Holiday Shores Motel held a watermelon eating contest for the kids. Photographer John Von was there to document the event and shot the above photograph and the ones that follow.
Photo contributor Donnie Moses, poised to attack a large slide of watermelon.
The Holiday Shores Motel also sponsored a pie eating contest.
I am the one on the right, celebrating my victory in the Watermelon Eating Contest with my cousin Tommy. Yes, that's a baby alligator my cousin Phyllis is holding on the left, her prize for having won the Pie Eating Contest or something.
Evidently, Mr. Von had been commissioned by the motel operator to cover the contests and if you wanted to buy the photos afterwards, he would make them available. What a brilliant photographer he was. This photo (above) is 45 years old and looks like a high-definition image.
You might remember the Holiday Shores Motel. It was next to the Silver Beach Inn at the intersection of Silver Beach and Atlantic.
Many thanks to Donnie Moses for sharing his photographs and memories of a wonderful time and place.