The gap in the record is in your closet

You may have noticed a new NCPR weekday photo feature called Backward Glances. In it we showcase the history of our communities in photographs that range from the dawn of the technology up to the late 20th century. Some we collected last year following meetings with organizational partners in St. Lawrence County, some by putting an intern on the road last summer to see what she could find in communities in the other counties of our region. And I have been adding items to the feature from the marvelous digital collections of New York Public Library.

Backward Glances has gotten decent traffic at and is even more popular on our Facebook page. But a couple things are missing. Our partner collections are long on the 19th century, but short on the 20th century, particularly the latter part. And we have lots of short captions, but not much that really tells a story.

siblings1955For that we need you. The photos we want are probably in a shoebox on the top shelf of your closet. The stories we want are the ones in your memory, or the one grandma told you while leafing through the family album.

So I’ll start. That’s me in the middle, in 1955, two years before we moved to the North Country–taken in Elmira, NY, I believe. I am sitting on the back steps with my older siblings Gerry and Linda. We are decked in the height of mid-50s kid fashion, my sister in something inspired by TV “cowgirl” Dale Evans, my brother in wide-collar loud-print splendor, and me in shorts with built-in suspenders, saddle shoes and a shirt with, God help me, a little white bow. It is probably a Sunday in summer, dressed for church.

family1959And this is my wife Terry (on the left) with her father Gabriel, mother Betty, and younger brothers Fred and Bob. They are on Varadero Beach near Havana. It is 1959, a few months before the Cuban Revolution and eleven years before I met Terry. Except for Fred, the youngest, none have been back to Gabriel’s homeland since the photo was taken.

We have a submission page for your own Backward Glances. It works exactly like our Photo of the Day and Artwork of the Day features. You tell your story in a comment and attach the photo to the comment. Or, as with our other photo features, you can always email them to me at [email protected]. Use Backward Glances in the subject line.


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