Luther J. Wallace died on June 4th of this year at the age of 96. I was able to find his death notice, but the Detroit funeral home did not post any bio or obituary. Apparently, after he died there was an estate sale and an eBay seller went and found an old scrapbook that Luther (or someone on his behalf) put together back when he was a young man in the 1930s. Joey at the always-excellent blog Anonymous Works took notice and posted about the notebook with a link to the eBay auction. I was in the bidding for much more than I thought I'd be, but ultimately lost after the bidding went above $200. Fortunately, it is possible to save screenshots of the auction photos and share those even though I wasn't able to obtain the full album, which seems to chronicle Mr. Wallace's career during the mid-1930s as a gentleman of leisure, or, at the very least, a consummate ladies man:
One of my favorite things about eBay is that incredible stuff like this gets posted to learn from and enjoy (even if you don't win the auction), but it's pretty messed up that it disappears after 30 or 60 days or whatever it is.
I understand server space is an issue when dealing with such a massive enterprise, but it seems crazy that eBay deletes item descriptions and photos so quickly after an auction ends. It seems that certain categories of eBay take on an archival nature by default: the antique photo and art categories, as well as the ephemera and antique advertising categories and countless others. You have all these individuals scouring estate sales and musty shops for unique items, documenting and submitting them to a central archive, curating lost treasures in a way, but all that "work" essentially disappears after a few months. eBay ought to archive and save old auctions from these types of categories, if you ask me.
If the buyer of this item ever sees this, I would love to see any other photos among the 141 that were in the scrapbook, and would give you full credit for helping tell more of Mr. Wallace's story here if you could send me some scans. If anyone finds this who knew or is related to Mr. Wallace, I'd love to know more about his life and share it here. In the end I am left thinking about that old man who died here in Detroit a few weeks ago, how he lived 96 years and kept this scrapbook full of reminders of the pleasures of youth all those years and left it for someone to find after he died. I figured out where he lived and went and took a picture of his house, one of those lonely Detroit houses with more pheasants nearby than people:
I can almost picture him there like any of the old men I see on their porches or out in their lovely lawns in the warm Detroit dusk. There is something quite life-affirming and inspiring to think that any of the octogenarians you pass might be hiding histories as young, sophisticated gentlemen of leisure deep in their past.
Source: eBay seller Workindogg (via Anonymous Works)