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Photos 36 - 39 of 39
thepast philadelphia babies


Sometimes I'm happy and sometimes I'm sad -- even though the pics don't show happy!

So many things that existed when that picture was taken no longer exist. The house was torn down years ago after decades of neglect. The neighborhood now looks like a war zone with boarded up houses, empty lots and drug paraphernalia underfoot. Walles pockmarked with bulletholes aren't unusual either.

The world is more connected than it was then. In that final moment before the second world war, people died where they lived their lives -- unless major upheavals forced them to relocate to another country. You depended more on neighbors. Only a few people in the neighborhood had telephones, so the corner store became the message center for the neighborhood. When you made a phone call in many locations, you had to ring up the operator to make it for you. In some small towns, all phones were on one line and boy was gossip fast travelling. The last town to have that kind of system was Skaneateles, NY. I lived near there in the 1970's. When you picked up your phone, you heard 45 clicks in the line. You watched out who you talked about! Now, they are part of the main trunk line. people aren't as close but all of them have private phone lines like the rest of the world.

The first public broadcast had been made on television that year, but no one owned a set. Radio was king and Edgar Bergen was the king of radio. He was a ventriloquist who moved his lips but no one noticed on radio. Well, the Shadow knew!

Travelling was not taken lightly. Few travelled by airplane. It was prohibitively expensive, uncomfortale and not much more reliable than covered wagon travel. Since most people did not own automobiles, travel was by some form of public transportation and distance was not considered an option except for the very well to do who could get off more than a week in the summer. You went to the nearest place that had a lake, an ocean or a river. You stayed in a dwelling that Section 8 would reject as housing for poor folks. The conveyance that took you there was not air conditioned. if it was a train, you arrived covered in soot from the coal-driven engine and the fact that the windows remained open to alleviate the heat.

You tried not to need to use the restroom on the trian. It was a hole in the floor, covered by the facility and you could see the tracks rushing by. A small child would have nightmares about falling through the hole, landing under the train and being left to die, abandoned on the traion tracks with no one ever knowing where or when he fell out.

Yeah, life was pretty good back then. Imagination was far more utilized than it is today. Children created games with invisible boundaries, out of junked possessions and at times, in the evening, simply played games in which their imaginations created scenarios of wonder that no gameboy or television show could imitate.

A few blocks from where that house stands, gentrification is happening. Houses that couldn't sell for ten dollars in the year 2000 now cost several hundred thousand dollars for the shell. The process will soon reach my old dwelling where in another five years, another baby, in a fancier perambulator will sit, be photographed with a digital camera, and have no notion that I already made that spot famous on fotothing with my faded photograph and still intact, though possibly fictionalized, memory.
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Comments on this photo:

Jul 01 2005 19:58 GMT styxpix
So true - some good, some bad about the 'old days'. Nostalgia is a funny thing (have people been nostalgic about their past since cave dwelling days?!) Memories can play tricks on us but I identify strongly with what you've said!
PS: it also sounds a bit like our bit of Wales right now!!
Jul 03 2005 13:00 GMT JAX PRO
Well said. You are a thought provoker.
Jul 14 2005 16:42 GMT lorri PRO
Very wonderful caption. Cute pics, too.
Aug 01 2005 15:38 GMT maiylah
i agree..all so true.