M. D. McCARTER COLLECTION
M. D. McCARTER COLLECTION
MALCOLM “MAC” McCARTER
AUGUST 26, 1923 – DECEMBER 12, 2016
Authored by Mac’s daughter, Susan
As a young man, Dad had a newspaper route. One of his customers was a Mrs. Lentz. Dad became friends with her. Mrs. Lentz told her two sons about Dad. Her two sons owned Lentz Bros. Studio in Peru, IN.
The Lentz brothers were impressed with Dad and he started working for them in 1940, keeping the coal furnace stoked and shoveling the snow off the sidewalk. Dad already had some photographic experience as his mother operated a studio out of their home. Soon Dad was helping the Lentz brothers with portraits and working in the darkroom developing film and prints.
When it was time for Dad to go into the service, he went in as a Photographers Mate. When dad got out of the Navy in 1946, he went back to work for Lentz Bros. Studio. A short while later he bought the business. One day a pretty young woman came into the studio to have a portrait made. They hit it off and were married in 1949. They ran the studio until January of 1956 when they sold out and moved to Tucson, Arizona.
They operated a studio in Tucson until moving to Phoenix, AZ in 1960 where they bought a hobby shop. They operated it for several years until Dad’s business partner, Eugene VanDusen, bought them out. Van traded his collection of railroad negatives for dad’s half of the business. Dad worked for two hobby/craft distributors after that. Dad’s sales territory covered Arizona, New Mexico, and a corner of Texas. By the time dad finally retired, his first wife had died and he had remarried, and he had worn out several cars and a motor home. He and his second wife bought a new motor home and each summer they would pack up the motor home and head off to the train meets across the country.
The Nickel Plate Railroad went thru Rochester, IN where Dad was born. Dad developed a love for trains at an early age. Dad told the story he was taken down to the local grocery store by his aunt, to sit on the watermelons and watch the trains go by, while his brother was being born at home. The trains were a block away from the grocery. The grocery store workers knew dad and his family and kept a close watch on him.
That love for trains continued and in 1953 he and 9 other men pooled their money and purchased Indiana Railroad lightweight interurban #65 and founded the Illinois Electric Railway Museum in Union, IL. The museum is now known as the Illinois Railway Museum and is a large operation today. Dad attended the 50th and 60th anniversary celebrations.
Dad was a life long member of many railroad museums. He was always willing to make a donation to help a museum.
When Dad was in the Navy he would spend any leave hitchhiking around the country, photographing trains. He met many nice people, some of whom became lifelong friends.
When Dad met my mother, they would pack a picnic lunch and spend many a Sunday taking pictures. As I was growing up, we would still pack a picnic lunch and spend many a Sunday tracking down an abandoned trestle, roundhouse, etc. for pictures. And I also remember getting chased off railroad property by a grumpy security guard once or twice.
After getting out of the service, Dad started selling prints from his negative collection and kept collecting more and more negatives. By the time he died, he had been in business for over 75 years, had over 53,000 black and white railroad negatives, 2100 color slides and over 46,000 prints . He also had an extensive research library. His collection covered Canada to Central America, East Coast of the United States to the West Coast, and some European. He also had negatives covering circus, covered bridges, and Chicago World’s Fairs. He was able to take a hobby and turn it into a profitable business.