Page 33 - Apr2017

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Capturing Galveston on Film
Joseph M. Maurer
By Kathleen Maca
mong the most popular vintage photos of Galveston
are those that feature 1920s bathing beauties in the
International Pageant of Pulchritude. These panoramic
shots spotlight young ladies who came from Galveston
from around the world to compete for the beauty title that would
eventually come to be known as the Miss Universe contest.
Appropriately, a native Galvestonian captured the images of an
event so uniquely associated with the island. Joseph Michael Maurer
made a career of capturing scenes of Galveston—architecture, local
events, famous visitors, and everything that made his home city such
an important part of American culture during his lifetime.
Maurer was born in Galveston April 8, 1876, to parents who each
ran their own successful business. His father, John, made a name
for himself in Galveston as a contractor who worked on many of
the city’s early buildings including the Ursuline Convent, the Texas
Star Flour Mills, the old Jesuit Church, and the dome on the old
Ball High School.
Karoline, Maurer’s mother, was a florist and “dealer in goldfish” who
created arrangements for the most prominent homes and events
on the island. She also owned a local nursery on the lot next door to
their home at 3020 Avenue P. In later years, she kept her son’s studio
decorated with potted plants and goldfish in a bowl.
Maurer attended St. Joseph’s School at 22
and Avenue K until he
was 13 years old, when he began St. Mary’s University under the
Jesuit instructors. One of about 150 students at the university who
studied practical business skills, he decided to leave after just two
years to seek employment.
First communion portrait of
Fides Senechal, May 1904
Part I I i
Past & PresenT
APRIL 2017 |