Ipswich Public Library
It’s not really winter — the weather is mild, and we haven’t had any real snow here yet other than one surprise snowstorm in October when the leaves were still on the trees. (But even that was only an inch or so where I live.)
I don’t really like having to deal with the snow. I hate dressing for it, I hate shoveling it and I hate driving through it, but I do like taking photographs of it. The weather we’ve had so far this winter has just left us with something that’s not even winter. It’s no season at all: no light, no color, no flowers, no plants, no snow. Nothing.
In November, 2000, my daughter Meg and I were in England. I took this picture of an elderly woman selling poppies in front of Bath Cathedral for Remembrance Day, what we call Veterans Day. We saw people selling these poppies everywhere, and we bought and wore them, too.
On Remembrance Day, November 11, we had just boarded a train in London and were still in the station when we heard the announcement that it was 11 AM, and that the country was now observing two minutes of silence. Everyone on the train, staff and passengers alike, immediately stopped what they were doing and remained still for two minutes. It was really quite a beautiful thing.
[Reposted from 2008]
I have often wished that I had a photograph of the Dover Country Store as I remember it from my childhood, so I was happy to discover this postcard on CardCow. This was a favorite place of my family’s in the days when we lived in Westwood and Dedham. In the front part of the store, they sold random household stuff, lamps and dishes and decorative items, if I recall correctly. (I was never much interested in that sort of thing.) They also sold penny candy, including candy sticks, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Mint Juleps, paper strips with candy dots and my personal favorite then and now, red Swedish Fish. They also had old books, which we all loved, especially my father. Many of my parents’ old books that I still have came from there. In the back of the store, there was used furniture, which my mother loved. We bought a big, beautiful round pedestal dining room table there for $5 or $50 or something like that — I was seven or eight and don’t remember the details of the sale, I just remember how pleased my mother was with her bargain.
We used to like going for family drives in those days, and more often than not these would end at the Dover Country Store, followed by a stop at the Bubbling Brook for ice cream in season. My father died when I was nine and we moved to Worcester. My mother would still take us to the Dover Country Store once in a while, but it just wasn’t the same.
Happy memories, though, and seeing this picture really takes me back to that place and time. I look at this picture and can see my family standing out in front of the store — the kids with little bags of candy, my mother holding a lamp or ashtray, and my father with a pile of books — PhotoShop of the mind.
An early snowstorm struck the Northeast yesterday — it hit here in late in the day and lasted into the evening. I was fortunate to lose electricity only briefly, and to have no damage. Just a few inches of snow on the ground when I got up this morning — other parts of the Massachusetts got a lot more snow and even here many people are still without power.
I took this photograph of a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air on display at the Festival Italia in Wakefield, Massachusetts, yesterday. You can see the distinctive roofline of the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library reflected in the hood. I wish I had taken more photographs of this beautiful automobile, but I was feeling conflicted about it. My mother owned a red and white Chevy Bel Air, bought used in 1960, and that’s always been my idea of the ultimate cool car. Seeing this Bel Air reminded me of ours, but the differences between the models just made this one look not quite right to me.
I did a little research on the 1955 Bel Air when I came home last night — in other words, I Googled it. It was called “The Hot One” and its sales brochure suggested “Try this on for sighs.” Apparently young people loved it because “this car’s so perky it always looks like it’s going to a party!” And it was a powerful car: the Turbo-Fire V8 engine “put a heaping hoodful of fun under your foot — 162 h.p.!” I don’t know anything about engines and couldn’t tell you the horsepower of my current car, but who wouldn’t want a heaping hoodful of fun under his or her foot? But best of all, it was motoramic! I don’t actually know what that means, but it sounds so modern! 1950s modern, that is.
It’s amazing how little sales resistance I have even to advertising that’s over fifty years old.
Woburn, Massachusetts, is only about 25 miles from where I live, but I don’t know anyone who lives there, and I’ve never had any particular reason to go there. I think have only actually been in the town a few times. Recently, however, I realized that Woburn happens to have five of my favorite things:
#1: A Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Marker
I love these beautiful cast iron markers, erected throughout the Commonwealth in 1930, and have been photographing and documenting them for a few years. Many of the original markers have been lost over the years, and others are in rough shape or located in places where they’re seldom seen. This one, however, is beautifully situated in the center of town on the Common, surrounded by grass, trees, flowers and monuments.
Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Historical Markers — I manage a Flickr group for photos of these historical markers.
Although it’s now a Thai restaurant rather than a “real” diner, it’s nice to see it still serving food in the location where it’s been for over fifty years.
#3: A Colonial Filling Station
There are only a few of these beautiful domed Beacon Oil Company filling stations from the 1920s still standing, and this is the only one I have seen that still a service station — the others that I have visited are the Dairy Dome ice cream store in Stoneham, and Maria’s Pizzeria in Malden.
This is also the only one that I have seen topped by the original globe decoration — either original or a good reproduction.
#4: A Hiker Monument
Spanish-American War soldiers were known as “Hikers,” and this sculpture of a Hiker holding a rifle was designed by Massachusetts sculptor Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson to honor soldiers who died in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War and the Boxer Rebellion. Her Hiker monument was cast over fifty times, and can be found in public squares across the United States.
The Hiker Monument — I started a Flickr group for photographs of these monuments.
#5: An H.H. Richardson Library
The Woburn Public Library, built in 1879, was designed by my favorite architect, Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886.)