After October 1 each year, admission to Maine's state parks is free. On October 2, several classes from Helena Dyer Elementary School in South Portland took a field trip to Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal.
The children and teachers spread across the sunny bald at the top of the mountain to eat lunch, listen to stories, enjoy the view, and of course complete worksheets.. These boys claimed a rock of their own at the edge of the mountaintop; one of them insisted that his last year's teacher had said it was okay to sit there. Before this year's teacher could say no, two of them were up on the rock and the third had pulled out a camera to record their moment of boldness.
This year's teacher did eventually approve their place on the rock. Let's hear it for teachers with steady nerves who take children up to the top of a mountain in October!
With apologies to those among you who have been on this list since 2007, I am repeating here one of my favorite baby pictures, taken almost 30 years ago. As you can see, John got distracted, and Ted made his move.
The prize clutched in John's little fist must have been something really special, so tasty and/or entertaining that it would be coveted even by a six-month-old baby. Such as a nice little pebble or twig or clod of dirt.
I like this picture because it suggests something of the tone of brotherly, um, love among the boys as the family grew. Even much, much later, whenever one of the boys would come home from college, odds were high he'd take a few minutes to go through his brothers' stuff and perhaps make off with a little something that wasn't being actively protected. Always, there was a stupid rationale--for example: "But it fits me better than it fits him."
The quotation from Dr. Seuss is the title that San Diego-based photographer Dennis James Anzano gave to this picture, which he took during a 2004 visit to his grandmother's home village of Magpanambo in the Phillippines.
It seems straightforward enough: juxtapose innocence and danger, and there it is, Little Red Riding Hood. Also, I think, sculptors must like to do wolves. The bronze interpretation here is in Munich, the stone carving in Hermosillo, Mexico.
Twenty or so years ago, when our son Joe was in the first grade, he came home from school one day and announced that there was a boy in his class named Joshua who was his new best friend; Joe and Josh have been close friends ever since.
Josh met Keiko when she came to Tuscaloosa from Japan to go to school at the University of Alabama. They have been living in Japan for the past few years but may return to the United States next year; Josh hopes to start an MBA program.
School's out this week for February break, but there's basically no snow hereabouts for the kids to play in. For Joshua, Emily, and Andrew, a trip to the artificial snow at Seacoast Park in Windham, Maine, solved the problem neatly. The kids went tubing all day Monday, and came home to . . . a forecast for plenty of snow on Tuesday. Winter's coming back to northern New England; the rest of the country can relax now.
Ruben used to smile for the camera, but that was back when he was little and didn't know any better. Now that he's a big boy, he's studied his face in the mirror from a metaphysical perspective and divined the essence of his nature--to wit, the real Ruben, the Ruben reflected in the mirror, does not go through life wearing a smiley face. The real Ruben is a serious young man, and if you're pointing a camera in his direction, you'd best be prepared to capture the essence of Ruben, as we see here.
At least, this is how he explains it. It seems that the universe of three-year-olds is divided into two categories: clowns, and philosopher-princes. Ruben has taken his stand.
Some days, seems like nothing in the world will make life worth living other than a picture of cute babies or puppies. This one popped up when I asked the Flickr photo site to show a dozen photos chosen at random.
For a second look at photographer Irina Werning's Back to the Future portraits, we have Matias, on the beach in Uruguay, in 1977 and again thirty-three years later in 2010. The adult Matias is a reasonably attractive young man, but even though he's not wearing children's clothes and his pose here isn't flamboyantly juvenile, there's something almost creepy about a grownup presenting himself as an adorable little boy.
Much of the Maine branch of the family posed recently at a gathering in Susan Wiggin's living room. Clockwise from the red hat: the irrepressible Wiggin children, Emily and Joshua; Maggie Stein; her father Bob; her brother Peter; and the irrepressible Dave Courtney. Maggie was back in Portland for a visit from Rochester, NY, where she now works as an RN.
Leaning against the family's 1955 DeSoto after a summer-vacation day with the leaping dolphins at Marineland, the California boys at right and their cousins from Texas settle back to enjoy an ice cream cone. Except for little brother at far right, who's not enjoying the moment all that much; his ice cream rolled off the cone and plopped down at his feet in the parking lot. . . .
Nothing says the 1950s like jeans rolled up at the bottom and a big DeSoto in a big parking lot.
I have nothing to say about the video below, which shows the Mizzone brothers practicing an old Earl Scruggs tune, "Flint Hill Special." Jonny Mizzone, the banjo player, is 8 years old; Robby, the fiddler, is 12, and Tommy, who plays guitar and mandolin, is 13.
They live in New Jersey. They say they've got another brother coming up, who they hope will play bass.
The caption is missing from this Lewis Hine photo in the Library of Congress, but it was taken in the year 1900 and is believed to show children who worked at a seafood-packing plant in Baltimore.
The Baltimore seafood packers were immigrant families who called themselves Slovonians; they came mostly from regions of Eastern Europe that would later become Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. After a few years in Baltimore, many relocated to Biloxi, Mississippi, which became the center of American seafood processing through much of the twentieth century. There is still a Slovonian Society and Social Club in Biloxi.
Lewis Hine's photographs of working children were part of his eventually successful campaign to end child labor in the United States. This picture is a bit different, however. If you click on the photo to view a larger version, you will notice that several of the children are clearly too young to pack fish; one is too young to walk. And unlike Hine's usual subjects, some of these children are smiling, even laughing.
Maybe the picture is a reject from the anti–child labor campaign, hence the missing caption. Perhaps the children were families of seafood packers, but not necessarily working themselves as seafood packers. But it is clear from Hine's other photographs that at least some of these children did in fact work long, miserable hours in the wretched factory they are posed in front of. They nonetheless laugh and smile, we have to assume, because that's what children do.
When our four-year-old neighbor went to the baseball game Monday night, she got to wear her Phillies dress, and she got to hang out with her preschool buddy, who wore his Incredible Hulk shirt. And not only that, the Phillies beat the Dodgers.
I took piano lessons as a child, as did my sister, but we had different teachers and thus had to attend each other's recitals as well as our own. My teacher organized mercifully brief programs; we took our turns at the keyboard in the school cafeteria, curtsied, raced through our pieces, and then it was time for the cookies, punch, and dixie cups of vanilla ice cream. But my sister's recitals, in her teacher's living room, were endless, and there were only enough chairs for the grownups; all the brothers and sisters had to sit on the steps while the piano-playing went on and on and on. Many of the students were extremely talented–one of them now conducts a symphony orchestra–but what I mostly remember is how long we had to sit there before the cookies and punch.
These children were among a couple of dozen who performed their recital pieces the other day on the Steinway grand at Strathmore Mansion in Rockville, Maryland. They are students of B&B Music School.
Somehow, Norman believes he can remember sitting in that chair and putting that balloon to his mouth, while Iris Quigley posed for the camera. The photo was probably taken in 1954, maybe 1955, in Iris's house, which was down the street from Norman's house in East Meadow, Long Island, New York. Great furniture, great dance moves, and we can hope those little baby teeth weren't too sharp.
As Debby and her daughter Lily lit the candles for the first night of Hanukah, Lily's Hanukah bear sat on the kitchen counter just beyond the right edge of this picture. Use your imagination: the Hanukah bear is a stuffed polar bear wearing a yarmulke, with a battery-powered voice. Push the button, and the Hanukah bear sings and sings about a dreidel made of clay.
After the candles were lit and the bear had sung, there were dreidels made of plastic and gelt made of chocolate, plus presents for Lily and latkes for all.
The twins rolling around on the mat at lower left are imitating their father's winning wrestling moves at right, during Deering High School's annual alumni wrestling meet last week.
For many alumni of Deering's storied wrestling program, this meet is their only chance to lace up their old wrestling shoes and see if they've still got what it takes. Coach Kirk, who's been running the show at Deering for more than thirty years, matches up each alumnus against a member of the current varsity squad; the wrestling is vigorous but not particularly intense, because Coach always rigs the matchups to favor the old guys. This year, as in most years, the alumni won every bout.
Charlie wanted to make sure that the cars on Kater Street proceeded in an orderly manner, so he posted a couple of signs: STOP, of course, and then a few feet down the block, GO, which he printed out in his own personal, drawn-out, lilting style of spelling.
When global warming brings us beach weather in January here in the mid-latitudes of the northern Hemisphere, this particular Australian beach, as well as all our American beaches and those of all the other continents, will be under water. The city of Philadelphia will be under water, along with most of the world's major cities. Oh well. Beaches in West Virginia could be nice.
Boys playing marbles in May 1940, in Woodbine, Iowa. I don't know when exactly American children gave up marble-playing, but by the late 1950s, when I was a serious student of childhood fun in America, nobody played with marbles any more.
They still rode bikes, however. And there were other games in which you could lose all your stuff, such as flipping baseball cards.
In 1940, Woodbine, Iowa, was a relatively prosperous place, center of Iowa's apple-growing industry, which was the second-largest in the nation. But a freak blizzard in the early fall of that year, about six months after this picture was taken, froze the trees before summer's new growth had hardened off; all but the very oldest trees turned black and died, and Woodbine never really recovered economically.
Last week, in Portland, Maine, in the combined first- and second-grade class at Longfellow School, Emily Wiggin and her classmates made a mosaic table for a silent auction fundraiser. The winning bid on Saturday night was $200, and somehow, on Sunday morning, there was the table in the Wiggin living room.
Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia, kindergartner Lily Sklaver spent the week learning to ride her bike without training wheels or pedals; by last night, when she had that balancing thing under control, the pedals went back on and she took off flying down the street.
For an overnight Girl Scout adventure, these young'uns were coached in singing and dancing by an older troop of Cadette scouts. Then they assembled their costumes from bags of stuff and put on a runway show. "Yes, my daughter is donning a cheetah bra and tiara," reports Susan Wiggin. "Very proud moment."
The little girl with the big grin, shown here in Smith County, Tennessee in 1906 or 1907, lived until 2011, when she was 105 years old. The grandchild who submitted the photo to Shorpy titled it "A Rare Smile."
At the Fourth of July festivities in 1957 or thereabouts, probably out in back of Takoma Park Junior High School, my friend Edie and I hold hands with long tall Uncle Sam, while my sister Carol waves our balloons on high. Uncle Sam's hat, which may be an Indian headdress, appears to say "Bozell" on it. I have no idea why.
It's time for another visit with the Brownies of Troop 1714 from Portland, Maine, this time during their daylong excursion to Boston, which was funded by Girl Scout cookie sales. The Brownies rode buses and subways; visited the aquarium, the IMAX theater, and Fanueil Hall; and dined and danced at Hard Rock Cafe. Girls and leaders survived the adventure thanks to the buddy system.
In 1934, Carl Gustaf Nelson painted life in New York's Central Park, above, the way life ought to be; in 1932 and 1933, photographers from the New York Daily News aimed their cameras at Central Park's Hooverville, below, revealing life that was not being lived the way people ought to live. Both images tell something of the story, in an upstairs-downstairs sort of way.
New York's homeless citizens began building shanties in Central Park's Sheep Meadow late in 1931, by which time half the factories in the city had been shut down by the Depression and literally millions of New Yorkers were desperate for food and shelter. In 1930 and 1931 homeless people tried to camp in Central Park, but they were repeatedly arrested for vagrancy; as the economic situation became more and more dire, however, policemen and judges became more sympathetic to the "bums," and official eyes were averted as this and many other Hoovervilles emerged. Some of the shacks were said to be solid brick and stone houses with tile roofs, built by unemployed bricklayers.
The residents of Central Park's Hooverville said they had built their homes along Depression Street. Many of the shanties had furniture and at least one had carpets, but there was no electricity or running water, no sanitary facilities at all. In 1933, the city condemned the dwellings, evicted the residents, and demolished the shantytown. The official justification was public health.
Thus, by 1934, when Nelson painted his picture, Central Park had been officially reclaimed for the sole use of well-dressed, well-to-do people like the ones in the painting, people with warm apartments to go home to and indoor plumbing. The people of Hooverville had moved on, and they would keep on moving on, scraping by, somehow, till a government stimulus program, aka World War II, finally brought full employment back to America.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, a few photographers from the U.S. government's New Deal documentation projects shot a handful of pictures using a newfangled technology: color film. This is one of the surviving prints, probably taken in 1939 by an unknown photographer believed to have been working with the Farm Security Administration.
The girls, who are described in the photo caption as "playing in a park near Union Station in Washington, D.C.," are holding osage oranges in their hands. Based on other images in the set, they may have been on the grounds of the United States Capitol building.
During World War II, service flags like the ones hanging in these windows, could be seen in houses all over America. Within the red border of the window-hanging was sewn a blue star for each family member serving in the military. Gold stars acknowledged those killed in action.
The steps these children were playing on in 1942, along N Street SW in Washington, DC, were bulldozed a dozen or so years later as part of one of the country's largest "urban renewal" projects. All the residential and commercial neighborhoods in the city south of the national mall were condemned and all the residents evicted. The buildings were torn down and even much of the street grid scraped away, as a team of builders and designers led by I.M. Pei sought to start over from scratch, to create a 1950s-style urban utopia.
Before the urban renewal, Southwest Washington had been home to several generations of European immigrants and African American migrants from the South. Irish, Italian and Eastern European immigrants, possibly including these families, lived in the neighborhood west of Fourth Street SW, which was then known as Four and a Half Street. The street addresses here would have been very near Four and a Half Street. East of that street, mostly in more decrepit houses, lived African Americans, some of whom had come to Washington as freed slaves before or soon after the Civil War. The two adjacent neighborhoods both produced musical stars in the twentieth century: Marvin Gaye and Al Jolson.
Urban renewal wiped away all the homes, schools, stores, and other buildings except for one church, a fish wharf, and Bolling Air Force Base. A freeway was built through the middle of the new emptiness, with office complexes and new apartment buildings on either side. The project went the way of much mid-century city planning: people did come to work in the office buildings but went home every night as soon as they could, and people did live in the apartments but got in their cars and drove away to shop, play, and generally live their lives. Except at rush hour, neighborhood streets were empty.
It took another half-century, until 2003, before Southwest Washington got its first real grocery store. There has been something of a revival in recent years, as new stores opened and area parks were developed, giving people a reason to go outside and walk around. New apartment and condo projects have increased neighborhood density.
What happened to the thousands of people who were expelled from Southwest in the 1950s, possibly including the people in this picture? I'm not aware that anyone has kept track of them. Not to belittle their fate, but in one way or another, what happened to them happened to millions of Americans throughout the last century. In America, city people rarely stay put in the same neighborhoods generation after generation. People change and seek out different kinds of neighborhoods, and/or the neighborhoods change, pushing people out or leaving them uncomfortable and precariously clinging to homes in places that aren't what they used to be.
Throughout the winter of 2012, Indonesian schoolchildren went to and from school every day via this damaged suspension bridge, which lost one of its pillars during a flood in January.
"Oh no," thought Djakarta-based photographer, Beawhirta, when he came across this scene. "These could not be children who wanted to go to school. It was more like an acrobatic show, with the collapsed bridge as an apparatus and without any safety device at all. They walked slowly, sometimes screaming as their shoes slipped. Suddenly the rain came."
Even in the rain, all the children made it safely across the Ciberang River, at least on the day of the photo shoot. About three months after the photo gained wide attention in Indonesia, the bridge was repaired.
This was a winter of of moving on up for Joshua and his denmates in Portland, Maine, as they graduated from cub scouts into boy scouts. The controversy surrounding scouting these days is probably inaudible or nearly so to the kids, who like scouts of generations past happily keep their eyes on the prize: camping trips and merit badges and all that awesome quasi-Native American stuff.
Lily wraps one of her custom-created alliterative labels around a naked crayon at Crayola's play park in Easton, PA. Among her names for crayon colors: Lily Lemon, Lily Lollipop, Marvelous Mom, and Naughty Norman.
In the huge Crayola factory just outside of Easton, where all 64 colors are melted and molded and labeled and boxed and shipped out to the world, the wrapping of labels is of course done by machine. But until the wrapping machines came on line in the late 1930s, that part of the process was farmed out to families in the Easton area, who would work at their kitchen tables wrapping labels around each crayon individually for a piecework wage. Each family worked on a single color, and the delivery routes were organized by color: e.g., turn left at the Green house and go up the hill to the Blue place.
Modern crayons first showed up at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, where Crayola exhibited them as "dustless chalk," a healthful innovation for the classroom. The company that made them, Binney & Smith, was getting a little out of its comfort zone, since its main facility in Easton was a slate quarry, which provided slates for schoolrooms utilizing the non-dustless kind of chalk.
Today, Crayola's theme park and factory undergird the economy of Easton, which was once home as well to the headquarters of another corporation manufacturing the stuff American childhood used to be made of: Dixie Cups.