A Few of My Favorite Things

Submitted 10 months ago
Created by
Matthew Powers

From the Collection

I love old photos. Of course, this has been fostered by my being in the museum field for almost 19 years. Every place I have ever worked has had a photo archive. Generally, these archives have been organized by subject and are in relatively good order so that you can find what you are looking for. Most have a portion of the collection digitized (scanned into a computer) which also makes searching more productive. I have found, however, that it is more fun to jump into a file and see what you can discover. Especially the ones that have been digitized. If they have been scanned at a high enough resolution, you can view an image to its smallest detail. A good example of this is a photo that I just love entitled: Vaughan Tin Peddler at Rhodes' first house. 

I am not sure where this is, but I don't care. When you "blow" up the photo you can see literally see a story unfold in front of you. Mr. Vaughan, the peddler, and his granddaughter pay a call to the new owners of a local house. And you can write something from there...

The Woodstock History Center has a wonderful photo archive. It has been named in honor of George Goodrow as the George Goodrow Memorial Photographic Archive.  George's good work (amongst many others things) led to the development of a "digitization lab". This was basically a room that held a very expensive, very big camera which took pictures of original photos which could be converted into negatives. These were then developed in an on-site dark room to create new ones. Seems so simple now but back then it was cutting edge. George was essentially developing a community archive and was willing to share with anyone. A very noble thought indeed! Times changed and after we lost George many years ago, historic places like ours became very possesive of their collections. I am glad to know that things have cycled back again and we view ourselves as not only keepers of the collection but are willing to share. It's a balancing act and we have to be careful of being taken advantage of. There are lots of folks who like to make a buck off of others. But for the most part, we like sharing what we have. And boy do we have a lot of it. Our photo archive continues to grow almost weekly. Families and individuals donate their collections and also allow us to digitize what they have. We consider this a service we offer, as we often send those that have generously given us items with electronic copies. The way I see it is the more of the same images are out there in the world, the better chance someone will enjoy them in the future.

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But the jist of this article is really about the photos that I really enjoy (like Vaughan Tin Peddler at Rhodes' First House) and I find myself returning to them over and over like old friends. They have been generously given into our care but need to be seen beyond my own eyes. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.

Here a few of my favorites...

This photo is of Clarence "Tink" Day in an Alumni Day Parade in Woodstock from June 16, 1951. Tink was from the class of 1925 and I hear it, was quite the character. The entire photo is just fabulous!

I love this photo of "hay tumbles" on the Billings Farm near the Ottauquechee River. While the photo is not perfectly in focus, it invokes great notasgia for the past where a good day's labor (conducted mostly by hand) in summer would feed others through a long, hard New England winter. There's something special about the hand cutting of a good hay field.

Sometimes I find humor in photos. This photograph was taken of a local high school class. Don't you just want to reach in with your present sensibilities and say, "Look at the camera!"? But those were the times. I just love it as it is. Every single one of them looking in different directions. Even the dog...

Don't you just want to step into this photo and talk to these guys? Lute Raymond (in front) and several other men are working on improving a sidewalk near the Green. The hard pack that they were laying that day is still there. I saw it one day as I was walking past a modern road crew fixing a drain on the same spot. History is layered, literally...

This bridge, house and the beautiful trees are long gone (actually, I stand corrected, the house in the photo was moved down the street). Progress (in this case the contruction of new and improved bridge to allow trucking) is not always a good thing. We can dream of quiter times in this photo. If you have stood on a sidewalk in downtown Woodstock while an eighteen wheeler is going by, you know what I mean...

I walk this street nearly everyday. Almost all of the buildings, structures and trees on Elm Street are different or have been altered in some way. This photo reminds me that change is inevitable. But that okay. If nothing changed, what a boring life we would lead!

Someone was feeling artistic that day. I'm glad they felt that way because they sure captured that idylic moment.

My drive to the village from West Woodstock. You can see the cart and automobile tracks in the summer dirt of the road. I am sort of glad that I don't have drive in that now but deep down I wish I had to. Perhaps I would stop on the way to town to do some fishing, grab an apple right off the tree, and pick flowers for my wife.


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