BROOKSVILLE, Maine — When local volunteer DJ Duncan Bailey bought an old Kodak camera at the WERU-FM rummage sale in Brewer last spring he didn’t realize its contents would develop into a mystery involving a dinosaur.
Vintage Tri-X black-and-white film lay undeveloped in the gully of the Pony 135 point-and-shoot that Bailey selected from a box of old cameras and purchased for $2.
“I looked at the back and saw it still had film in it, an old roll of Tri-X from the late ’60s or ’70s,” Bailey said. “Eventually, my dad said, ‘Why don’t I give it a shot?’ and develop it.”
Steve Bailey, also of Brooksvillle, took the film to his home darkroom and developed the film the Baileys believe is around 4 decades old.
“We were looking at the negatives and said, ‘What is that?’” the younger Bailey recalled on Saturday. “It was a dinosaur with a family. It was the last thing I expected.
“We’ve been trying to find out who is in the pictures ever since,” he said.
Eight of the 10 grainy, overexposed and mostly unfocused photos feature a fiberglass brontosaurus that Duncan Bailey believes is the mascot for Sinclair Oil Corp., which is nicknamed “Dino.”
The dinosaur is mounted on the roof of the family car, and several of the shots show kids riding the prehistoric herbivore.
The now-antique car appears to have the words “Maine 73” on the license plate with the registration number 211-075.
“My girlfriend, Jordan Ruff, called the DMV [Department of Motor Vehicles] and they said they don’t keep records back that far,” Duncan Bailey said. “It looks to me like an old Oldsmobile.”
The family photos, which feature a young girl with curls and her two younger brothers, one of whom is a toddler, and their father wearing a suit, give a few clues.
“In the background of one of the shots there is a billboard for the Maine milk committee and another one for franks” or hot dogs, Bailey said.
The billboards and a picture of a river or lake literally filled with logs are other clues to the photos.
“It was before the ban on billboards” in Maine, which occurred nearly four decades ago, Bailey said. “They stopped those [river-run log drives] in ’76 so that puts an end bracket on when it could have been.”
The last photo that does not feature the brontosaurus shows a duck pond with a small white house in the center of the water.
Bailey is hoping to find someone who recognizes the people in the photos and knows the story behind the dinosaur.
“I hope the kids in the photos find the shots in the Bangor Daily and are really happy about it,” Bailey said. “I hope we find out the background story about the family trip and the brontosaurus. It might be possible the dad is still alive because that could be only 40 years ago.”
The film was developed in the fall and Bailey has been showing the photos around and also posted them on Flickr, looking for clues.
“A lot of people say they like the photos but nobody has any leads,” he said.
Those who have information about the mystery pictures can contact Duncan Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see the photo album on Flickr, visit bdn.to/dinos.