Brains and Brawn… Bob Peoples and his trip to Motor City – Part 6
Published 11:40 pm Thursday, April 21, 2022
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Here was Bob Peoples, the strongest man on earth standing in a dark alley contemplating whether to knock on a door that could make his life a dream… or a nightmare.
He was seeking an audience with the greatest photographer of physical culture in America. A king maker who launched the career of many famous men such as Steve Reeves the modern-day silver screen Hercules.
Now, Peoples wondered if he might do the same for him.
Mr. Deadlift took one final furtive glance down the street before deciding to knock on that door. The reason he had to be so careful is that he was warned that the authorities were keeping an eye on this mysterious artist, Douglass of Detroit.
In fact, very few people even knew his real name as he often just went by his business pseudonym. Peoples decided destiny had brought him to this city, to this point in his life, so he figured he would walk through this door of opportunity.
As the cold wind bit into the hardened face of the Tennessee Hercules, he rapped the bony knuckles of his monstrous fist against the door… and waited.
Douglas of Detroit was actually a very shy and unassuming man named Douglas Juleff. He had learned about photography by working in the photo department of the famous Hudson’s Department Store in Detroit.
Hudson’s was 33 stories and over 400 feet of the largest department store on earth. It boasted over 2.2 million square feet of floor space, a 7-story tall American flag that took a mile of rope to hang it, 10 restaurants that served 16,000 meals per day, and 60 operators that handled 32,000 calls daily. But the part of the store that Juleff was most interested in was the photo lab.
Juleff learned quickly and soon became a master of what was then called “touch up photography” (today it is often referred to as retouching).
Many people have heard of Photoshop to alter pictures and you can often do this effortlessly on your cell phone, but retouching a picture in the 1940’s took so much skill. Photographers added highlights, took away parts of the picture, smoothed wrinkles, and so much more by using paint brushes, pen and ink, gelatin, paste wax, and many other creative applications.
Back then, taking a picture was only the start of the process. The artist could spend many more hours doing the retouching to produce the most appealing images.
This is where Juleff excelled. Soon, he wasn’t just working in the photo department at Hudson’s Department Store but doing side jobs after hours. Before long, he was known as the master of the human form.
Every handsome and athletic man in America that wanted to be the next sensation went to Juleff for pictures.
Now, here was the strongest man in the world, Bob Peoples, making his way from the hollers and hills of East Tennessee to this dark alley in the sprawling metropolis of Detroit to take the same journey that so many before him had done.
As he waited for someone to answer the door, Peoples kept taking glances down the alley. He heard that the authorities were watching Juleff. He wasn’t exactly sure why, but he was getting an uneasy feeling. He was prepared to turn and walk away, when he heard some footsteps creaking the floorboards from inside.
The door cracked open, and a shady pair of dark eyes greeted the Tennessee strongman. Cautiously he allowed Peoples inside before he stuck his head through the door and looked both ways down the alley before closing it behind.
Facing Peoples was a trim man with dark hair and smooth features. To hold the future of so many prospective stars in his hand, he was a very unassuming man.
He usually worked in dress pants and a plain white button-down dress shirt with his sleeves rolled up.
Now, he was ready to go to work on Bob Peoples, the strongest man in the world. But these weren’t just a few photos to keep around the house, give to friends, or sign for his adoring fans.
This man could get these photos in the hands of powerful people in Hollywood, LA, and New York. With the right photo, Peoples’ life could change forever.
But if these photographs ended up in the wrong hands, his life would also change… but for all the wrong reasons.
To be continued…