photograph showcase

Photograph Showcase: One Last Image of John Costello

COSTELLO, John, by truck, 1949
John Costello, 1949


If I have counted correctly and not overlooked any images, this is the 13th photo of John Costello in my collection.  The 13th, and possibly final, photo I will ever see of my great-grandfather.

The Costellos weren’t big on photos.  John didn’t like to have his photo taken.  He didn’t even like his photo to be shared.  So, there weren’t very many to start with and there aren’t very many that remain.

This photo isn’t good.  Unless of course, you are interested in that bracket on the truck – then it is excellent.  I would prefer some nice crisp focus on Grandpa Costello’s face, darn it!


The truck details are very interesting to me.  Is this truck the one that Grandpa used for work?  1949 is the last year that John Costello had an occupation listed in the Spokane city directory.  He is listed as an “expmn” or expressman.

His occupation in Spokane varied between these different names that all likely refer to the same general business:

  • junk business
  • junkman
  • junk dealer
  • salesman
  • expressman
  • express driver – proprietor wagon
  • used tires
  • operator retail tire shop
  • self-employed

The back of the photo just states his name and the year of 1949:

COSTELLO, John, by truck, 1949 - photo back

The lettering on the driver’s door of the truck is puzzling.  I think it reads:




Ummmm… that really doesn’t make sense.  Here is a zoomed crop of the door:

COSTELLO, John, by truck, 1949 - original - door crop


Any thoughts for me on what else it might say or what on earth it means?


UPDATE – my awesome cousin Heather made a very logical suggestion down there in the comments.  I think she is correct – the door very likely reads “UNDER 2000 GROSS”.  Thank you, Heather!


Strange lettering aside, this seems like a very good candidate to be his work truck.  What do you think?

Maybe I shouldn’t be too disappointed that Grandpa Costello’s face isn’t in focus.  After all, I might not have thought much about the truck otherwise.  😉

Every one of those 13 photos is a blessing – a different glimpse into the life of my very mysterious great-grandfather.



Happy Thursday!!  I hope you will preserve and share a precious photo very soon.  xoxo




9 thoughts on “Photograph Showcase: One Last Image of John Costello”

  1. I searched the 1950 Spokane directory on Ancestry to see if there was any business that started with “Under” but had no luck. I think the last word looks more like Gross than Cross, but it could be the font. I can’t make out the middle word at all.

    1. I agree – definitely “Gross”. That is what I typed but the capital Gs on my blog are easily confused with capital Cs. Hmmm…I should consider switching that font. 😉

      Thank you for checking! My cousin Heather suggested that the middle word is probably 2000 and that having that on the door may have prevented him from needing to weigh his truck or something along those lines. Numbers hadn’t crossed my mind at all! I’m glad she suggested it. Under 2000 Gross makes WAY more sense!

  2. I believe the second set is numbers, maybe 2000, because 2000 pounds makes a ton. I also believe that the weight the truck could carry made a difference in regards to licensing, so it was displaced on the door so the authorities would know if it needed to go through the scales or not. (or something along this line) I have seen it on old trucks before. so the door Could read UNDER 2000 GROSS.

    1. Thank you, Heather! That makes WAY more sense!! Numbers hadn’t even occurred to me. 🙂

    1. Thank you for the input!! That makes a lot more sense than “Under FOOD Gross”. Haha! Numbers hadn’t occurred to me. 🙂

    1. Hahaha!! So true about the eyebrows. They are far less prominent in this photo for sure. You noticed that cap last time too. It’s nice and distinctive. 🙂

      I wish there were more photos, but I’m happy to have any. I was in my mid-twenties when I saw a photo of him for the first time. Before that, I just didn’t think there were any. 13 is a huge improvement over 0. ❤️

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