• Steven D. Desmond

Weber's Mustard — turning back time to the 1950s

Updated: Oct 16, 2021

Restored slides reveal the Weber family at work and play

Joseph C. Weber, co-founder of Weber's Mustard company, stands in his kitchen in the 1950s.

Weber’s Mustard has been a beloved Buffalo company since its founding at the Broadway Market in 1922. Today, nearly 100 years later, their manufacturing plant is based in South Buffalo, where they continue to ship products all over the world.

Co-founder Joseph C. Weber left the business to his granddaughters after his passing in 1984. Several years ago, photographer Steve Desmond was given more than 1200 personal slides from the Weber family. Most were dated between 1951-57, although some date back to the 1940s.

“There were 12 metal boxes filled mostly with travel slides, faded and out of focus,” Desmond said. “Last fall, I began looking at them and discovered about 200 family photos. I edited those down to the best 70 or so.”

From there, he culled the collection further. Using modern technology to enhance old slides, Desmond set about to meticulously restore these images. He estimates he spent more than 160 hours editing 44 photos. Some took about 30 minutes, but others required nearly a full day’s work.

“There’s one photo of the family in the kitchen. I had to rebuild the walls, the ceiling, and the dishes. I spent almost seven hours on that.”

These photos reveal the day-to-day life of an upper class family — from their home along Lake Erie in Hamburg, N.Y, to the fashions, styles, and automobiles of the mid-20th Century. Color slides in that era were rare, used only by the wealthy.

“In 1935, Eastman Kodak released Kodachrome film,” Desmond said. “This was the first color film commercially available to the public. That year, the cost of a roll of film and processing was the equivalent of $54 today — expensive and out of reach for the average person. For the next 30 years, only the wealthy could afford to take color photographs. My dad was a photographer in high school and didn’t start taking color photos until the 1960s.”

As we celebrate the holidays, join us on this trip through the past…

(And scroll to the end of the photo essay for a radio interview about this story...)

The Christmas spirit

The 1955 company Christmas party. The steel mixer shown here was purchased in 1953 and was used until 2002.

Joseph Weber, with his wife Laura. Note the Christmas cards dispalyed on the mantle.

Christmas, 1956. Eugene Weimer, who married Joseph and Laura's only child, Ruth.

Ruth Weber opening presents for the holidays. Many photos from this era show people smoking cigarettes.

Traveling Lake Erie, the Atlantic Ocean, and Europe

Welcoming guests from the family dock along Lake Erie's shore.

Joseph and Laura Weber say "bon voyage" to daughter Ruth as she boards the Queen Elizabeth en route to Europe.

Ruth Weber on board the Queen Elizabeth ocean liner.

Ruth on vacation.

Traveling to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Ruth is on the left.

Ruth Weber along the canals of Venice.

Cars of the Era

Laura behind the wheel with Joe as co-pilot in front of the family mansion on Lake Shore Road in Hamburg.

Laura and Ruth.

Joseph and Laura, circa 1941.

Gene Weimer, circa 1957.

Ruth Weber, age 16, sitting atop a 1940 Cadillac in 1941.

Lounging at home

Joseph playing with the family dog.

Ruth with the same dog.

Family party photo. Laura is wearing pink; Joseph is sitting on the couch to the right.

Laura and Joseph, framed by a doorway in their home.

© 2019 photos by Steven D. Desmond

WECK Radio Interview

On February 1, 2020, "Buffalo legend" Steve Desmond appeared on WECK radio to discuss the history of Weber's Mustard, Buffalo Tales, and this photo feature. The interview lasts 16 minutes, and can be heard by clicking the link.

Radio interview

It's a New Year!

Happy holidays from Buffalo Tales. Thank you for making our first full year exciting and memorable. We appreciate the time you spend with us.

If you haven’t already, please join our site (click the box under the buffalo's tail on the home page) and convince your friends to join as well. Or find us on Instagram. We do accept advertisements, so if you want to promote a product, let us know. We're looking forward to 2020 — we have several exciting stories to share with you in the new year, so stay tuned!

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—Jeff Schober

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