There are a few people in each family that seem to leave people smiling and wondering. I believe Ray Hinz did that. He grew up in Indianapolis at 1514 South Talbott Street in the 19 teens and 20s, the third of five children of John and Julia (Kuhn) Hinz. He was a first cousin of my mother and her brothers and sisters, a nephew of Harry and Otillia (Kuhn) Weber. We are all related through my maternal great grandparents, Charles and Mary Anna (Risch) Kuhn.
When his cousins talked about him, Ray was a “character,” a guy that usually rode his motorcycle wherever and whenever he had the opportunity. He never married. He was known as a favorite cousin and enjoyed his family and life in general. I recall my Mom speaking of good times with him and telling me about Ray nicknaming my brother Don, “Si.“ (I wish I had asked why!)
Ray pursued a career in photography, capturing thousands of commercial photos in Indiana for the Bass Photo Company. That may be the reason he was missing from some of the group photos of the Kuhn/Hinz family. He was probably at the gatherings, but behind the camera.
In my photos in this post you see Ray at 11 years old with two cousins, Bob and Peg Weber. Below is an appropriate sample of his work – his cousins are posing on his motorcycle – and I’m presuming he’s taking the shot.
Ray is remembered for his kind demeanor, his wit and his photography talents. I was happy to have a chance to visit with him in the late part of his life. He welcomed me warmly into his room at the retirement home. We talked about his 48-year career as a photographer for the historic Bass Photo Company in Indianapolis. He stated that he had taken many of the photographs of various buildings and street scenes in Indianapolis, as well as other Indiana sites. He took photos during and after World War II of Fort Benjamin Harrison (Indianapolis) and Camp Atterbury (southern Indiana). There is a tremendous Bass Photo collection available at the Indiana Historical Society website. I’m including a link below to that collection. Although we can’t tell exactly which photographs were taken by Ray, we know that he is represented there.
I’m thinking now of how Ray saw dramatic changes in the world of photography during the 1920s through 1960s. His lens captured family and friends at work and play, a city in peacetime and wartime -- the everyday developments around him for 48 years. Wow! I sure wish I had had more conversations with him. Writing about his footprints in our family history needs to be continued. There’s more to discover about him, more to smile and wonder about.
Interested in knowing more about Bass Photo Company? Here’s a link to an interesting history at Historicindianapolis.com Then, go on over to the Indiana Historical Society and have some fun looking through the Bass Photo collection. You will be seeing some of Ray’s work there.
Research To Do: Additional details about how Ray learned to be a photographer and information on whether he left behind a photo collection of his own. Continuing interviews with family.
I love hearing from you about these family stories. So leave me messages in the comments section below or email me at nancyhurley1 at gmail dot com. Thanks for visiting with us at Indiana Ties!
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