Kodaking in the 1930s

It’s interesting to me how certain words that start off as nouns become verbs. For instance, we often talk about “googling” something, which means, of course, using the Google search engine to find it.

Did you know “kodaking” used to be a verb? Obviously, Kodak is a brand of camera, so kodaking meant “taking pictures.” I came across this term in my Grandmother’s diary from when she was a teenager.

February 3, 1935. To Sunday School again. 6 in class. Home with Thelma. Very good time. Went kodaking on river up to the cedars. Pretty!! Came home on motorcycle at 8:30. Preaching day.

My grandparents’ families lived in the same community in southwest Oklahoma when they were teenagers. Grandmother was a senior in high school in 1935. Granddaddy had graduated a couple years earlier. They dated for several years and were married in December 1936. So this diary entry was from their courtship years.

The church in their community had Sunday School every week, but they only had preaching occasionally as they didn’t have a regular pastor. I can’t remember if the preacher came every other week or once a month. Something like that. Apparently this particular Sunday was a preaching day.

Grandmother mentions going home with Thelma. That was her future sister-in-law, Granddaddy’s older sister. Presumably Granddaddy would have been there, too, but I guess it was more proper to say she was going home with her girlfriend, rather than her boyfriend. I’m sure they all hung out together. Great-aunt Thelma’s “boyfriend” (and future husband) was Grandmother’s older brother, so they often double-dated.

kodaking copy

After dinner they went to the river for their kodaking session. The Red River is just a few miles from where they lived. The few times I’ve been to the area the river has mostly been dried up with just a few puddles in the river bed here and there. I can’t imagine it was much different, except possibly even drier, during the years of the Great Depression. It must have been a fun destination for a Sunday afternoon outing. I don’t know who the “Kodak” belonged to, but I would guess it was a Brownie box camera as that was the common-use camera of that time. I expect the pictures above were the result of the kodaking that day.

The “motorcycle” was a 4-cylinder Indian motorcycle which belonged to Grandmother’s brother. Granddaddy told me he borrowed it in 1936 to go down to Texas to work for his uncle for a few months. Here’s a “Kodak” of Grandmother and two of her friends posing on the motorcycle.

Motorcycle gals 1934

Can’t you just see a bunch of girls taking similar selfies and posting them on Instagram these days?


  • Kathy

    This is an adorable post, love the ‘kodaking’ what a blessing to have your grandma’s journal and such wonderful old Kodak photos,..she looked a bit of a free spirit, how fun! Visiting from Christian Women Bloggers Facebook today!

  • A Romantic Porch

    That’s a neat story Karla. I’ve never seen those pictures of mother. Where did you find them. ..and her diary too? I’ve never seen it. I love that one of mother and daddy standing together. Look how photogenic they were. If there was a bad one, they couldn’t delete it! 🙂
    P.s. I did see one of her diaries and she wrote “same old routine” on a lot of the days, so when I got a diary I thought I should write that too!! Haha

    • KarlaCook

      The pictures were on the CD of pictures Mother scanned from Grandmother’s albums. I don’t know who has the originals now.

      I’ve had the diary for awhile. It was a 5-year diary but only the first year-and-a-half or so were filled in. Just 3 or 4 sentences each day. The cover is missing. I thought you knew I had it. I transcribed it several years ago.

      Wonder what her “same old routine” was? That’s funny!

  • Ryan Reeves

    I have been reading a lot of newspapers (I would call them newsletters, printed in an 8 1/2 x 11″ format) from the 1920s and kodaking was a popular actvity then, too.

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