I’ve been on the lookout for interesting Photomatic photos for a few years now, and have found a few on eBay and at photo shows, but I’ve never seen one quite like this. It features a flat frame and customized back panel like many Photomatics, but the photo isn’t one that was taken in a traditional Photomatic booth.
Instead, it looks like the machine was set up inside a “Can-Do-Special” (“Can-Do,” “C and O,” very clever), a “full-size replica of a 490 engine cab” from the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, according to this photograph and description found on the Cleveland State University’s Cleveland Memory Project site.
The unnamed little girl poses as though she’s operating the train, and the Photomatic’s flash is seen reflected in the window to her left. We can see part of the control mechanisms, a sign reading “C and O,” and a few lines from some handwritten documents hanging on the wall above her. It’s a wonderful photograph, recording an exciting moment in this girl’s life, but also capturing the heyday of two technologies now consigned to the museum: the steam engine and the Photomatic photobooth.