Teenie Harris & the Great Appalachian Storm


Charles "Teenie" Harris, Man, possibly Charles "Teenie" Harris, digging car out of snow at Harris's home, 7604 Mulford Street, with Giarusso Bros. grocery store in background, Homewood

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Man, possibly Charles “Teenie” Harris, digging car out of snow at Harris’s home, 7604 Mulford Street, with Giarusso Bros. grocery store in background, Homewood

Much news attention has been given to Snowmageddon and the Polar Vortex, but in 1950, the Great Appalachian Storm dumped over 30 inches of snow during Thanksgiving weekend in Pittsburgh. The city was essentially shut down for days, the Allegheny County coroner warned those over the age of 45 against shoveling snow, and most of the newspapers ceased to print for a day or two. And Teenie Harris (who was used to being everywhere all of the time) was possibly stuck shoveling out as well.

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Mulford Street buried in snow, with man shoveling in center, Homewood, c. 1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Mulford Street buried in snow, with man shoveling in center, Homewood, c. 1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Child seated in snow drift in front of house at 2606 Mulford Street, Homewood, c. 1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Child seated in snow drift in front of house at 7606 Mulford Street, Homewood, c. 1950, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

I asked Charles A. Harris, Teenie Harris’s oldest son, what his dad thought of snow:

“I was very young when my father took me aside and talked about people who liked snow because it was so pretty. He really impressed upon me that though it may be pretty to look at from inside, there was always someone trying to go to work; many many accidents are caused by snow for people who don’t have a choice. In addition, there are ambulances that have to travel dangerous streets on their way to the hospital. In a word, he HATED SNOW!”

And it shows—out of over 70,000 negatives that we’ve cataloged so far, there are only around 120 that feature snow. Throughout his career, snow impeded his photojournalistic work…

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Long line of protesters walking during snowfall carrying placards that read, "We Protest Kutchman's Appointment", with Kay's Furniture and Areford Brother's Real Estate, street no. 62 in background, c. 1950–1965, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Long line of protesters walking during snowfall carrying placards that read, “We Protest Kutchman’s Appointment”, with Kay’s Furniture and Areford Brother’s Real Estate, street no. 62 in background, c. 1950–1965, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Car, Michigan license plate, with front smashed in, on street during snow storm, 1963, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Car, Michigan license plate, with front smashed in, on street during snow storm, 1963, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

…but also provided subjects for photographs…

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Woman wearing earrings, light colored scarf, coat, and dark heeled boots, standing with hands in pockets on snowy lawn looking down into hole or well with stone walls, c. 1961, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Woman wearing earrings, light colored scarf, coat, and dark heeled boots, standing with hands in pockets on snowy lawn looking down into hole or well with stone walls, c. 1961, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Portrait of Elaine Coles wearing light colored coat and dark gloves, holding snowball, and squatting in snowy yard with light colored brick house in background, February 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Portrait of Elaine Coles wearing light colored coat and dark gloves, holding snowball, and squatting in snowy yard with light colored brick house in background, February 1958, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund. This one ran in the Pittsburgh Courier on February 15, 1958, with the caption: “Um-m-m-m Valentine! – Pretty Elaine Coles… a fine Valentine Day choice (or a ‘fox in snow’), smiles for the Courier photographer despite February’s icy blasts. Too bad the weather forced Miss Coles to snuggle in her winter coat. She has the figure to match her lovely face…”

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Man, possibly Brother Pharaoh, in Muslim dress posed barefoot in the snow, 1955-1975, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Man, possibly Brother Pharaoh, in Muslim dress posed barefoot in the snow, 1955-1975, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Car covered in snow and ice parked in front of row houses at 2325 Centre Avenue, Hill District, c. 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Car covered in snow and ice parked in front of row houses at 2325 Centre Avenue, Hill District, c. 1959, black and white: Kodak Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

But though he didn’t like the stuff, it’s no surprise that Harris still managed to capture some joyous images of those who did:

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Child lying on sled, sliding down hill, with other children standing at top, with tall chain link fence on right, Watt Street, Hill District, c. 1946, black and white: Ansco Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Child lying on sled, sliding down hill, with other children standing at top, with tall chain link fence on right, Watt Street, Hill District, c. 1946, black and white: Ansco Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Young women throwing snowballs with one story building in background, c. 1940-1945, black and white: Agfa Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Young women throwing snowballs with one story building in background, c. 1940-1945, black and white: Agfa Safety Film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles "Teenie" Harris, Two children jumping into snow in front of Bedford Dwellings, with truck parked in background inscribed "B. Portnoy's Market, groceries, meat, produce, 2232 Centre Ave.," Hill District, c. 1947, black and white: unknown safety film, Heinz Family Fund

Charles “Teenie” Harris, Two children jumping into snow in front of Bedford Dwellings, with truck parked in background inscribed “B. Portnoy’s Market, groceries, meat, produce, 2232 Centre Ave.,” Hill District, c. 1947, black and white: unknown safety film, Heinz Family Fund