William Morgan: First Communion

  A bit of kitsch in the town where Henry David Thoreau made Walden Pond world-famous.

A bit of kitsch in the town where Henry David Thoreau made Walden Pond world-famous.

 

 

            Despite its trite name, Thoreauly Antiques, on Walden Street, in Concord, Mass.,  remains a fertile hunting ground for old photos that suggests many a tale of everyday New Englanders.

            Maybe with computers and their sophisticated photo programs, a lot of images are being stored for future generations – knowing that all my floppy disks are unreadable, perhaps not. Maybe the shoebox of treasured images was just as good a storage system.

 

            For 50 cents I was able to recapture the day of this young woman's first confirmation three quarters of a century ago. The Regal Magic-Eye Enlargement was made in Quincy. The girl's name and other information may have been in the scrapbook in which this memory was pasted. But one does not want to contemplate the demise of the scrapbook or the journey of this snapshot of one of life's landmark moments to a junk shop.

            May 19, 1942 was a Tuesday, so we can guess the confirmation took place on May 17. On that day, German and Soviet forces were battling for Kharkov, American submarines were chasing their Japanese counterparts following the Battle of the Coral Sea, while in the Atlantic U-boats sunk almost a dozen Allied ships.

            But back in Boston, the day was sunny and full of hope.

William Morgan is a Providence-based writer and architectural historian. He has taught the history of photography, and co-authored the book Bucks County with  the late RISD photography professor Aaron Siskind.