The "What in the World is Happening in this Photo?!?" Caption Contest Exhibit 

The Valentine

Ever seen a funny or poignant photograph and thought “If only I could add a caption…”? This exhibition does just that. The Richmond community was asked to help curate this photography exhibition. We provided the images. The community selected the photographs and gave the cheeky or insightful commentary.  Browse through the exhibit to see the winning captions, plus each photograph’s actual description.

The Valentine Richmond History Center’s Richmond Times-Dispatch Photograph Collection consists of approximately 12,000 photographs given to the History Center from 1936 to 1991 by Richmond Newspapers, Inc., publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Richmond News Leader. In this exhibit, see the range of subjects – from silly to serious – that this collection holds.

Want to see more? Through a generous grant from Media General, the Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection is newly digitized and viewable through the History Center’s online database at www.richmondhistorycenter.com.

There's got to be a genie in ONE of these.

Submitted by Pamela Ehrlich

“Capt. Tompkins' Silver Is Admired By Relative”

Young Benjamin Tompkins, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Tompkins, polishes a silver tea set owned by his great-great-great aunt, Capt. Sally Tompkins, the only female officer in the Confederate Army.

Richmond, Virginia, July 21, 1966

Two officers, a police dog and a horse, and they still did not catch the guy stealing home!

Submitted by Parker Winborne

“Preparing for a Big Move”

Richmond policeman R.W. Grove steadies his horse Prince as police dog Fritz prepares to leap aboard. The service animal act was presented at Parker Field during the annual Richmond Policeman-Fireman show. Fritz's trainer, O.A. Martin assists Officer Grove.

Richmond, Virginia, July 31, 1969

Vegetarian speed-dating.

Submitted by Kathryn DiPasqua

“Young Virginians Celebrated In Lively Style At John Marshall”

Warren Keeling, Diane Dumville, Gloria Keeling and John Lockes dance during an inaugural ball for Virginia Governor Linwood Holton at the John Marshall Hotel.

Richmond, Virginia, January 17, 1970

Poise. Girls use books, guys use bricks.

Submitted by David Martel

Brick worker William Hopkins carries a load of bricks on his head during work on the construction of the Richmond Coliseum.

Richmond, Virginia, February 18, 1970

Seriously, this is the last time I use Mapquest for directions.

Submitted by Britt Parrack

Two men inspect the Marshall Street Viaduct in downtown Richmond.

Richmond, Virginia, July 21, 1970

Edna discovered a clever way to put a stop to her nail-biting habit.

Submitted by Angelicia Ventura

Mrs. Irving Mann shows off some of the thimbles in her collection during a talk for the Valentine Museum Textile Resource and Research Center.

Richmond, Virginia, October 22, 1970

Rev. Desmond's fiery sermon was his last.

Submitted by Will Vehrs

“Demolition of Ancient All Saint's Church Begins”

An interior view of the demolition of All Saint's Church, 300 block of West Franklin Street.

Richmond, Virginia, November 1961

Early strides in GRTC's history.

Submitted by Starlet Knight

A German Shepherd on a leash pulls three small children in a dog cart down a suburban street. 

Richmond, Virginia, October 16, 1961

Are you ready to rock, River Road?!

Submitted by Jeff Gaynor

“Dinwiddie's Answer to Beatles”

Four members of the Namozine Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary dress as the Beatles for a fundraising event.  The women are, left to right: Mrs. Louise Dayvault, Mrs. Flossie Hayes, Mrs. Florence Moon and Mrs. Lucille Mayton.

Dinwiddie, Virginia, March 19, 1964

It's got color, bouquet and boldness, but it can't match the jolt of that white lightning in the jar.

Submitted by Barbara Gestwick

“Tasting And Testing A.B.C. Liquor”

J. Bernard Robb, director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board's division of chemical analysis, inspects a tumbler of brandy before taking an official sip.

Richmond, Virginia, March 16, 1951

Long before the Brazilian Wax, there was the Richmond Burn.

Submitted by Will Vehrs

“…For a 'Blanket' Course”

Clifford W. Roberts, chief of the protective section and safety officer, uses himself as a model during a fire-fighting course for McGuire Veterans Administration Hospital staff members. 

Chesterfield County, Virginia, October 5, 1965

Frank quickly found out that reading the directions would have been a good idea.

Submitted by Jeff Woodson

Mr. Charles F. Thompson, vice-president of International Rollcall Corporation, repairs a voting machine.

Richmond, Virginia, December 9, 1965

Gallery 5 has always been known for its cutting edge live shows.

Submitted by Christopher Munton

Go-go girls Jane Armstrong and Robin Ferguson dance to the guitar music of Chard Haynes and Sandi Fralin during the Valentine Museum live exhibit, “Discotheque, 1967,” part of “Gala Nights in Richmond’s Past.”

Richmond, Virginia, April 12, 1967

Ralph convinced his wife he came to the park for the fresh air.

Submitted by Michael Connor

“Warm Weather ‘Warning’”

A couple sits on a bench in Forest Hill Park and watches two sunbathers.

Richmond, Virginia, May 3, 1978

Yes, you're now a “bride of Christ” but I think these wedding presents are a little extravagant.

Submitted by Barbara Gestwick 

“Gifts Aid Sisters’ Campaign”

Sister Louise, Mrs. Marie Hardy, Sister Ita Mary and Sister Marcelle examine silver service gifts received by the Little Sisters of the Poor during their fund drive to build a new home for the aged in Henrico County.

Richmond, Virginia, September 9, 1972

I know I saw that kid throw a cracker in here.

Submitted by Mike Tatum

“The Old Ostrich Act”

A small white duck investigates an opening in a Byrd Park fountain.

Richmond, Virginia, August 2, 1976

The original “To the Bottom and Back Bus.”

Submitted by Kathy Hamby

“School Bus Saves Gasoline For Richmond Symphony Supporters”

Mr. and Mrs. D. B. Pantele and Mr. and Mrs. E. P. Riley board a West End Transit school bus on River Road, en route to a Richmond Symphony event.

Richmond, Virginia, January 14, 1974

Dozens line up for Richmond's first hands-free car wash.

Submitted by Kate Mundy

Cars pass cautiously through the flooded Lombardy Street underpass. 

Richmond, Virginia, October 29, 1973

Still from a lost Christmas-themed M*A*S*H episode.

Submitted by Harry Kollatz

“Santa Leaves [Reindeer at Home]”

Santa Claus arrives by helicopter to Hening Elementary School.

Chesterfield County, Virginia, December 10, 1979

Back in the day, Lucinda cut the grass with her patented moves.

Submitted by Will Vehrs

“Oh, If Only…”

A woman using a cane watches a group of dancers perform during a preview of June Jubilee events.

Richmond, Virginia, May 18, 1979

That's him, officer. That's the one who ate my Kibbles and ran off with my water bowl.

Submitted by Robert Antonelli

A Richmond police officer introduces a toddler to his police dog during a Woodland Heights community event.

Richmond, Virginia, June 12, 1976

Richmond debuts Synchronized Phone Calling. The Olympic Committee was not impressed.

Submitted by Richard Hayes

“Hello, Out There”

Davin Daniels and Salina Bates talk on pay phones outside a fast food restaurant at Leigh Street and Chamberlayne Avenue.

Richmond, Virginia, May 20, 1976

This cookie wants...YOU!

Submitted by Sharon Lewis

“Cookie Crumbles Into Camp Funds For Girl Scouts”

Girl Scout Johanna Crowder displays a Trefoil cookie.

Richmond, Virginia, January 11, 1971

To say the least, Hefner was disappointed with the Richmond Playboy Club.

Submitted by Don Talley

“Easter’s Here”

Members of the Get Together Social Club, Mrs. Mildred B. Norris, Mrs. Agnes B. Lipscombe, Mrs. Maxeine Pervall, Ms. Laverne Norris and Mrs. Virginia Jones, prepare to distribute Easter goodies to children at E. G. Williams Hospital.

Richmond, Virginia, April 9, 1977

VMI did NOT prepare me for Capitol Cat detail.

Submitted by Starlet Knight

Officer Seawell of the Virginia Capitol Police feeds milk to a kitten.

Richmond, Virginia, January 22, 1971

eHarmony's greatest success story.

Submitted by Leigh Ann McKelway

“Seeing no shadows”

Ida Currie holds a “nature cake” made for a Groundhog Day party at Westminster-Canterbury House.  Hans von Schlieben holds Saucy Woodchuckle, a guinea pig substitute for the groundhog.

Richmond, Virginia, February 2, 1984

Exhausted, Mike finally understood what “up a creek without a paddle” meant.

Submitted by Michael Connor

“Hot, dry and tired”

George Bowls stretches out in his canoe on the shore of the James River after traveling from the Huguenot Bridge to Brown's Island.

Richmond, Virginia, August 15, 1983

The new Broad Street Fountain is not a hit with local pedestrians.

Submitted by Kate Mundy

“A real gusher”

A broken valve causes water to gush skyward at 7th and Broad Streets.

Richmond, Virginia, August 11, 1983

Tim Kaine and Mark Warner decide to pair up as Starsky and Hutch for their Halloween party.

Submitted by Amy Bridge

Male Medical College of Virginia nursing students stand outside the Nursing Education Building.

Richmond, Virginia, May 4, 1973

Eric Cantor...the forgotten years.

Submitted by Don Talley

Virginia Commonwealth University students Scott Sarter, Mark Maslow and Mike Lickey have a jam session in their dorm room.

Richmond, Virginia

December 1, 1975

Time machine travelers describe the Richmond of the future as “not that different” than it is now.

Submitted by Kate Mundy

Caroline Wiley, William A. Patton, Richard H. Jones, Louis Salamonsky, Thomas B. Lawrence and Janet Kane pose during a tour of the Virginia Mutual bank vault.

Richmond, Virginia

September 21, 1977

Bill Lane, photographer


Gee, Dad. Wait ‘til I tell my friends that you got a haircut from “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Submitted by Richard Hemby

A boy shows concern during his father’s hair cut.

Richmond, Virginia

August 19, 1971

Bob Brown, photographer



Last thing the Mayor said, officer, was “If I'm lying, may God strike me down!”

Submitted by Ed Drain

“A hole in one”

A Richmond police officer and a construction supervisor inspect a hole that formed when part of the street collapsed at an intersection in Church Hill.

Richmond, Virginia

July 17, 1985

Bob Brown, photographer


Todd's ability to not get called on was legendary.

Submitted by Jes Simon

A little boy expresses his disinterest in a June Jubilee event.

Richmond, Virginia

June 10, 1987

Bob Brown, photographer


As an honorary member of the Clean Plate Club, commitment had taken on a whole new meaning for Little Johnny.

Submitted by Corey Staley

“It's what??!!”

William Fox Elementary School second-grader Lynn Robinson reacts to a sample of sushi he was asked to try during a class on Japanese culture.

Richmond, Virginia

March 11, 1988

Don Long, photographer


Fred patiently waited in line at the Emergency Room.

Submitted by Michael Connor

“No pumpkins here”

Hobgoblins line up along East Cary Street in Shockoe Slip during the Downtown Presents' annual Great Big Pumpkin Party.

Richmond, Virginia

November 1, 1987

Bruce Parker, photographer


Sorry sir, the Navy recruiter got to us first.

Submitted by Leslie Bobb

Douglas Smith, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, speaks to Wayne Cravey, James Griffin, Gary Lawrence and Robert Tribbey, a group of U.S. Navy Sea Cadets, at a "Patriotism Day" event in Byrd Park.

Richmond, Virginia

September 12, 1987

Lindy Keast Rodman, photographer


Club Velvet: The Early Years.

Submitted by Will Vehrs

“Business Boosters”

Freeway, a golden retriever, lies at the back entrance to The Strip Joint, a furniture refinishing shop.

Richmond, Virginia

July 19, 1987

Robin Layton, photographer


Joe did not quite grasp the telework concept.

Submitted by Mike Tatum


Virginia State Senator Onico Barker pushes a leather desk chair across Capitol Square.

Richmond, Virginia

May 22, 1989

Bob Brown, photographer


Sure, we still have a smoking section, but you've got to really want to get there.

Submitted by Starlet Knight

“A political mole?”

After completing repair work, Steve Crouch, a Capitol Buildings and Grounds employee, crawls out of a passageway underneath a pay phone in the Virginia State Capitol building. 

Richmond, Virginia

January 29, 1990

Bob Brown, photographer


Ty was self conscious that he had a large nose, but his winning smile was always what most people noticed first.

Submitted by Monty McFadden

“Head-ing to work”

An unidentified person walks along Robinson Street wearing a carved jack-o-lantern head.

Richmond, Virginia

October 31, 1988

Gary Burns, photographer


Sometimes it was hard to tell if the legislature was in session or if the circus had come to town.

Submitted by Will Vehrs

A parade of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants travels north on 9th Street toward the Richmond Coliseum.

Richmond, Virginia

March 6, 1990

Wallace Huey Clark, photographer


Hold on! Hold on! I KNOW that receipt is in here somewhere!

Submitted by Sharon Lewis

Lorraine Hardware's store cat Hero investigates a customer's purse sitting on the counter, while store employee Mark Robertson talks to a customer on the telephone.

Richmond, Virginia

July 19, 1987

Robin Layton, photographer


Sadness grips construction worker as he realizes that he left his hammer in his truck.

Submitted by John Norton

“High iron rest”

A workman sits on a pier for the new Robert E. Lee Memorial Bridge.

Richmond, Virginia

August 14, 1986

Gary Burns, photographer


Converting the CFB tower into Facebook's North American headquarters was a relatively simple operation.

Submitted by Harry Kollatz

“Landmark letters take off”

A helicopter removes the last “C” from the top of the CFB building as Central Fidelity Bank becomes Signet Bank.

Richmond, Virginia

April 27, 1986

Don Long, photographer


Sure the badges are fun...but the ladies loooove the uniform. Booyah!

Submitted by David Martel

“New Scouts Register On Day Age Limits Drop”

Charles Wheatley, Sterling Harrison and Jimmy Holder were the first Boy Scouts in their age groups to register for the year.

Richmond, Virginia

September 2, 1949


Members of City Council engage in their favorite tie-breaking measure.

Submitted by Robert Sobecke

“Heave Ho In A Tug Of War”

F.J.D. Mackay, James Bolton and Richmond Mayor Sterling King pull on a rope on the docks of the Richmond Intermediate Terminal. 

Richmond, Virginia

October 19, 1949


Seriously? I pull Timmy out of the well every week and you think I'm the one who needs training?

Submitted by Eric Jarrard

“There Are Also School Days Ahead For City's Dogs”

Jacqueline Powell and Cary Gibson prepare for dog training classes while Connie the Dachshund and Lance the Collie look on. 

Richmond, Virginia

September 10, 1949


Been in an accident? Call Allen & Allen.

Submitted by Judy Duarte

“Would You Drive Your Car Off the Central National Bank Building's Sixteenth Floor?”

The imagined path of a car driven off the 16th floor of the Central National Bank building. 

Richmond, Virginia

December 3, 1950


Richmond spends $57 million dollars to try and set “World Record Domino Effect.”

Submitted by Michael Connor

“Toll Road Swings Around Main Street Station, South Over James River”

Cement pilings mark the projected path of the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike bridge over the James River.

Richmond, Virginia

September 22, 1957


No, darling, we found you under a CABBAGE leaf.

Submitted by Fred Orelove 

“Corner in Tobacco”

Mrs. H. T. Crumley and her daughter admire tobacco plants near the entrance to their apartment.

Henrico County, Virginia

October 2, 1957


The argument over Sally Bell's versus Ukrop's cupcakes turned ugly.

Submitted by Fred Orelove

“Charge! Lancer Ray Jackson…Knight Edwin Wolfe, Go Full Tilt”

Two men on horseback joust during the half-time show of a football game at Parker Field.

Richmond, Virginia

November 30, 1957


Just pretend you like it, Harry.

Submitted by Susan Bower

“Unique Form of Continuity…”

Mr. and Mrs. Harry L. Winston of Detroit admire an abstract sculpture from their collection on loan to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Richmond, Virginia

December 14, 1957


Psst. Did you hear what happened to Rudolph in last year's parade?

Submitted by Leigh Ann McKelway

Two inflated bears and a skunk are readied for the annual Thalhimers Toy Parade.

Richmond, Virginia

November 19, 1957


Mr. Smith didn't have the heart to tell Jimmy he had caught someone else’s bait.

Submitted by Yvette Goudelock

“Smile Weighs More Than Fish”

Richmond Department of Parks and Recreation official Norman Hood weighs a fish caught by Alvin Glenn.  The fish was the first caught at the annual fishing rodeo sponsored by the Richmond Junior Chamber of Commerce at Swan Lake in Byrd Park.

August 19, 1957

Richmond, Virginia


Listen up, shepherds. We had complaints after last year's pageant, so let's do a bit more tending to your flocks and a lot less fraternizing with the angels.

Submitted by Leigh Ann McKelway

Mrs. Banks prepares the cast of the annual Christmas Eve pageant at the Carillon in Byrd Park. Richmond, Virginia

December 24, 1959


The Bev's Homemade Ice Cream eating contest came down to the wire as the two women above attempted to finish their 60th cone.

Submitted by Kate Mundy 

“Fun For All”

Miss Virginia Withers and Mrs. Hunsdon Cary enjoy ice cream cones underneath a Japanese umbrella.

Richmond, Virginia

June 17, 1960


So, what's the horsepower under that hood, 'cause I think I can take you.

Submitted by Mair Downing

“Milkman's Horse Resents Invasion of Motorized Deliveries On Few Remaining Truckless Routes”

Prince, the milk wagon horse, meets his replacement, the milk truck.

Richmond, Virginia

February 18, 1941


I wish the budget allowed for more park benches around here.

Submitted by Pamela Ehrlich

Colonel Mills Neal, director of Virginia's Selective Service, exercises in Capitol Square.

Richmond, Virginia

June 8, 1942


Untimely sneeze from onlooker has devastating consequences.

Submitted by John Norton

“You Hit The Nail On The Head”

Virginia’s First Lady Mrs. Colgate W. Darden drives the first spike into a model of the U.S.S. Merrimac being built as a recruitment headquarters for the Navy’s Lee Volunteer campaign. Lt. Charles L. Kessler holds the gold spike for Mrs. Darden.

Richmond, Virginia

July 16, 1942


Credits: Story

Sponsor — The Richmond Times-Dispatch
Sponsor — The University of Richmond
Special Thanks — To everyone that participated in the contest

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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