And Now You Know: Floyd and Christine Yocum were Orange’s First “Camera People”

Published 10:00 am Monday, May 20, 2019



In 1942, Floyd and Christine Yocum were on a trip with friends. They were pulling a house trailer from their home in Philadelphia to Florida with a side trip to Houston.

On the return, they encountered some heavy rain and decided to stop in Orange. They pulled into Payne’s Trailer Park on Western Avenue and were “marooned” for six weeks by heavy rain.

Orange was booming with the wartime shipbuilding. Floyd and his friend were photography enthusiasts and had installed a small darkroom in the trailer to develop the pictures they were taking on the trip.

They noticed the only photographer in Orange had a sign that said he was not taking pictures of school-age children.

This was due to the high cost of film and wartime rationing.

Floyd started advertising by word of mouth that he would take baby pictures. Soon they had so much business that they built a portable trailer to work in.

After two years, they went back to Philadelphia. Things there had changed, and it no longer felt like home. Floyd asked Christine how she felt about going back to Texas. She replied that she was ready to go back.

Floyd had been the manager of a small bus company making $75 per week. He had made as much as $500 per week taking pictures in Orange. He felt that he could make a good living doing photography full time in Orange.

Back in Orange, Floyd carried his camera around and took pictures of people at work and doing other things. When he showed the pictures, he had taken he often sold them for 35 to 50 cents each.

They were living in Fuller’s Trailer Park and working out of their home. Floyd took the pictures and Christine helped with the developing.

“There was no camera shop in Orange and people were asking us if we could get them a camera. In 1950, we moved to DuPont Drive, bought a home and continued to operate out of our living room until 1952 when we bought a 15 X 40-foot building from Consolidated Steel and moved it to a lot next to our home.

The building was used to sell cameras and supplies. We still did the developing in our house,” said Christine.

In 1958, they got a loan and enlarged the building.

Floyd died in 1960 and Christine managed the business alone. She no longer did studio photography. The business just sold cameras and supplies.

Most of the chemical plants and shipyards had started their own photo departments but bought their supplies from Yocum’s shop.

In 1968, she incorporated the business and her daughter Rose Etta, and her husband Ken Thayer became her partners.

In 1992, the business relocated to Sixteenth Street in Orange.

Rose Etta established her own school of dance adjacent to the camera shop. She had taught at Mary Ingram’s dance school for several years. She still worked in the shop with her husband, Ken, serving as manager.

After Christine’s death, the Thayers continued to operate the shop until the economy changed and competition from bigger stores made the small shop unprofitable and they closed the business.

“And now you know.”