Ok, so just who the heck is Ed Hanna and how does he fit in with a site about phoobooths?
If you happen to be from Utica, NY. you already know the answer to this, but for those of you that don't, let me enlighten
Edward Arnold Hanna was born in Utica on April 7, 1922, 1 of 7 children of immigrants from Lebanon. His father, was a
carpenter who later became a home builder, building contractor and owner of a lumber yard as well as dabbling in real
Ed had several jobs as a boy, like being a paperboy, working in a grocery store and picking vegetables on summer
vacations. He left the Utica Free Academy just before his junior year, went to work and then joined the Marines. He was
wounded in the war in the Pacific and received the Purple Heart. He returned to Utica and in 1947 and married.
Hanna opened a candy store which turned into a candy factory that producing a popular bar called Coconut-Treat and
was distributed throughout the Northeast.
I dug a bit more into the Hanna history and tried to find if I could get a
bicture of the Hanna Building as it looks today and was very
surprised! The picture was posted by a real estate company of pretty
much a vacant lot covered with debris. As it turns out 103 Pleasant
St. in Utica NY. became the home of Manny's Cheesecake Factory
which in turn became a local icon for outstanding baked goods until it
burnt down in 2011. I wonder if anyone in Utica knows that, that is
where their infamous Mayor began his empire?
In the late 1940s, he caught the photography bug and became a local
distributor for coin-operated, automatic photo studios where one sat on
a stool behind a curtain, deposited a quarter, and got a strip of four
In 1951, Hanna became a distributor of a direct positive photo line for
Eastman Kodak in Rochester and later became one of its consultants.
He was also the distributor for Ansco film and after acquiring the secret
formula to Auto-Photo chemicals he tweaked it and manufactured his
own line of photo booth chemistry. The company operated as Photo
Reproduction Masters out of the "Hanna Building" at 103 Pleasant
Street in Utica NY.
That evolved into the Hanna Manufacturing Corp., a company that
produced a variety of products, from photo chemicals and rope ladders
to ice-cream machines, stainless steel kitchen items and vending
machines under the banner "Creamatic Corp". Like the Vine-O-Lite
which distributed 2 x 2 pic plastic sleeves for your photobooth strips for
10 cents, and a machine that vended St. Christopher Medals. I have a
flyer from him for a machine that he was developing called the "Big
Shot" that actually did 16 x 20 prints, there was no picture of it in my
files and although I know prototypes were made and tested, I cannot
find if it actually ever went into production. He also started a photo
booth pen pals business called Photo Pals where you would send in a
photo of yourself and a bit of money and they would send it and your
letter off to a member of the opposite sex.
Ed was a colourful character and the most important thing to him was
customer service! He always shipped orders the next day, the same if
possible and had a "hotline" direct to his house should you ever need
As I dug into the story of Ed Hanna I was quite surprised by the other
stuff that I found out about him. As it turns out Ed had an affinity for
public service and served as State Parks Commissioner, Assemblyman
and later was the 2 time Mayor of Utica, NY. And from what I have read
he handled the jobs with the same zest as he did with his business
My family had a business relationship with him from the early 60's and
the last letter we would receive from him was dated 1986.
The St. Christopher
Letter from W.G. Allen
Big Shot Ad Card
Big Shot 16" x 20" Ad