Whenever I walk around the village of Potsdam I see with a kind of double vision. I see what is in front of me now, and I see what used to be. This parking lot was where the World War I vets hung out on the porch of the Albion hotel, smoking cigarettes and swapping yarns, before wandering back into the tin-ceilinged, sawdust-floored bar for another beer.
And where the newly rebuilt DOT-standard bridges cross over Fall Island, I also see the graceful originals entombed within, with their post and globe lighting. I look at the hardware store and see the old Montgomery Ward where my mother worked, and I see where the same hardware store used to be, a block away, much smaller and with tiny hardwood bins lining the walls holding nails and screws, and even tinier drawers for washers, nuts and gaskets.
The handsome sandstone train station remains, but has been moved and converted into a restaurant. And long gone is the one-car Beeliner that used to see my mother off to visit her folks in Pennsylvania.
I could show you the pictures, had I taken any then. Which is one reason why NCPR has been out on the road talking to historical organizations around the region to build the foundations of a project that will document in photos the history of the North Country’s towns, villages and backcountry, with a focus on the changing working lives of people over time.
We also want to encourage all of you to dig out your shoebox of old photos, your albums and scrapbooks, and to send us photos of how it “used to be” with you and yours. We are calling this feature “Backward Glances” and you can submit photos and whatever stories you have to share that will bring them to life on this page. If you have submitted to Photo or Artwork of the Day, it will work exactly the same.
I have “salted the claim” with a few photos from our organizational partner archives here, so you can see what the feature will look like.
Tags: arts, history, listeningpost, photography
What a pleasing idea. I can’t wait to see what turns up. In particular, I have been unable to find a single photo of the Beeliner anywhere. Was it perhaps not very photogenic?
Not too photogenic. Here’s a picture of one in Michigan in 1955
The Beeliner is a Budd railcar – essentially a self-propelled passenger car that can be operated from either end. I think there are some still out there in service; the Pennsylvania State Railroad Museum in Strasburg had one the last time I was there a few years ago. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad has considered getting one I think. Some were all passenger seating, some had a mix of seating and baggage, some were all baggage. There’s more about them at http://www.budd-rdc.org