Long passionate about Milwaukee history and ghost signs and vintage photographs, Adam Levin has been a collaborator with me on a number of OnMilwaukee posts covering these topics.
In 2020, Levin – who created and moderates the popular Old Milwaukee group on Facebook – collected his vast array of Milwaukee ghost sign images into his first book for The History Press, “Fading Ads of Milwaukee.”
Now, based on his Kodachrome Milwaukee Facebook page and his ever-growing collection of vintage images, The History Press is reading a new book for publication.
“Kodachrome Milwaukee,” due out in mid-July from The History Press, has 150 brilliant photographic time capsules of the city, from parades and festivals, to storefronts and landmarks, to sporting events and family snapshots and more.
All of the images are from Levin's personal collection, acquired from estate sales, donations, antique stores and the like. None of the photos was downloaded from the internet.
It’s a vibrant and fun stroll back in time in Brew City via Kodak’s innovative 1935 Kodachrome technology .
I caught up with Adam to ask him about the book.
OnMilwaukee: Tell us about how this book came about?
Adam Levin: In the summer of 2022 I had an idea to write a book about the vast and rare Kodachrome slide collection I own of Milwaukee's bygone eras. Since I wrote "Fading Ads of Milwaukee" in 2020, I asked Arcadia Publishing if they would be interested in another book.
At first they were leery about the subject matter since the concept was a first for them. A few emails and weeks later they gave me the green light to proceed. I started writing in August 2022, and completed it four months later.
Did you ever think you'd do another book after the first one?
I was 90 percent sure I wouldn't write another book. Now I'm 100 percent sure I'm done.
So there won’t be another one?
Taking pictures of ghost signs and preserving Kodachrome slides are two hobbyies of mine I'm very passionate about.
What is it about the Kodachromes that you find especially interesting? Is it the technology, the subject matter?
I'm fascinated with the timelessness in color and tone of Kodachrome slides. Seeing these time capsules that haven't seen the light of day in decades intrigues me. The images are pure Americana. It's a way of life that doesn't exist anymore.
When I see a box of slides at an estate sale or donated, I often wonder if the families discarded these collections for lack of interest or in error. Nonetheless, I'm glad I can bring them back to life.
Do you have some favorites in the book that you can tell us about?
No favorites, but I could've easily included 200 images in the book, but the limit was 150.
Adam Levin will do a book launch event at Boswell Book Company, 2559 N. Downer Ave., on Friday, July 21 at 6:30 p.m. The event is free, but reserve your spot online here.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.