Once upon a time, Arthur Fellig, a.k.a. “Weegee,” cruised around New York in a 1938 Chevrolet, waiting for the police radio he monitored to guide him to his next destination. From 1940 to 1945, his photos of accident and crime scenes appeared in the pages of daily newspaper PM, where he was a staff photographer.
A priest stands over two body bags, administering the last rites. An ambulance driver holds the priest’s hat and one of seven firemen pulls the drawstring on a body bag. The other firemen, framed by the night’s blackness, stand ruefully gazing at the bodies; their wet turnover coats shine with the reflection of the photographer’s flash bulb. I kept staring at the fireman to the left of the priest. It is my grandfather Charles F. Hale.
Hale’s efforts to identify the date and details of the photo led him to the basement of an FDNY firehouse on East 18th Street, the International Center of Photography and the New York Public Library’s microfilm room. To learn what he discovered, click here.
[Image of January 1962 Hale obituary via: artistswithoutwalls.com]