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Sunday, 18 December 2011

New England, Sunday afternoon just before Christmas

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Street corner, Brockton, Massachusetts:
photo by Jack Delano, January 1941



It’s a Sunday afternoon in New England just three days before Christmas -- Ma’s making the roast in the kitchen range, also tapioca pudding so when Sister Nin comes in from outdoors with the shovel she’s been wielding in the blizzard there are cold waves of snowy air mixing with the heat steams of tapioca over the stove and in my mouth I can taste whipped cream cold from the icebox on the hot pudding tonight.

While Ma cooks she also sits at the round kitchen table reading the “Boston American” -- Pa’s in the parlor playing the Gospel Singers of Sunday cigarsmoke funnies time -- I’m getting ready to take my big blizzard walk into the Massachusetts Shroud begins just down the end of dirt road Phebe Avenue, I’m rummaging in the closet for my hockey stick which will be my walking-stick and feeling-stick to find where puddles and creeklets have disappeared under two feet of snow this day.

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I start out, down the porch steps, overshoes, woolcap, coat, corduroy pants, mittens -- There are Christmas wreaths in all the windows of sweet Phebe -- No sign of G. J. or Billy with the kids sliding on the park slope, no sign of them on their porch except G. J.’s sister in her coat all wrapped communing with the plicking fall of vast snows in a silence all her own, girl-like, watching it pile on the porch rail, the little rills, sadnesses, mysteries -- She waves -- I plod down off our Sis-shoveled walk into Mrs. Quinn’s unshoveled walk where the going is deep, profound, happy -- No shoveled walks all the way to Billy’s where bigbrother sixfoot Jack has worked in muffler with pink cheeks and white teeth, laughing -- Black birds in the black cherry tree, and in the new snow breadcrumbs, bird tweak tracks, a little dot of kitty yellow, a star blob of plopsnow ball against Old MacArthur’s wreathy front door -- O the clean porches of New England in the holy dry snow that’s drifting across new painted planks to pile in corners over rubber doormats, sleds, overshoes -- The steam in the windows, the frost, the faces looking out -- And over the sandbank now and down on semi-snow-plowed Phebe comes the great fwoosh of hard stormwind from the river cracking leafless shrubs in stick-unison, throwing swirls of coldsifted powder, pure, the freezing freshness everywhere, the sand frozen solid underneath -- ...


Jack Kerouac: Home at Christmas (extract), from Glamour, December 1961




http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsac/1a33000/1a33800/1a33856v.jpg

Sylvia Sweets Tea Room, Brockton, Massachusetts: photo by Jack Delano, December 1940 or January 1941


Street scene, possibly in Brockton, Massachusetts: photo by Jack Delano, December 1940

http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsac/1a33000/1a33800/1a33851v.jpg

Second-hand plumbing store, Brockton, Massachusetts: photo by Jack Delano, December 1940

http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsac/1a33000/1a33800/1a33861v.jpg

Children with adult in the tenement district, Brockton, Massachusetts: photo by Jack Delano, December 1940

http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsac/1a33000/1a33800/1a33853v.jpg

Children in the tenement district, Brockton, Massachusetts: photo by Jack Delano, December 1940

http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsac/1a33000/1a33800/1a33854v.jpg

Children in the tenement district, Brockton, Massachusetts: photo by Jack Delano, December 1940


Skating, vicinity of Brockton, Massachusetts: photo by Jack Delano, December 1940

http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsac/1a33000/1a33800/1a33870v.jpg

Skating, vicinity of Brockton, Massachusetts
: photo by Jack Delano, December 1940

http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsac/1a33000/1a33800/1a33872v.jpg

Skating, vicinity of Brockton, Massachusetts
: photo by Jack Delano, December 1940


Massachusetts farm, possibly near Brockton, Massachusetts
: photo by Jack Delano, December 1940


Photos from Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress

10 comments:

ACravan said...

The Delanos show New England climate, sky and scenery I recognize very well from several teenage years spent there. Funny to be made to recall them at this time of year, which tends to be full of recollections (including some you still try to shut out). Full retreat from New England is what brought me to Pennsylvania, which looks different and where other construction materials are used.

"in a silence all her own"

I really like that.

Curtis

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Beautiful Delano work. And Jack, oh, Jack:

"G. J.’s sister in her coat all wrapped communing with the plicking fall of vast snows in a silence all her own, girl-like, watching it pile on the porch rail, the little rills, sadnesses, mysteries --"

Truly matching, image and word, from another century, another world ...

Ed Baker said...

"No shoveled walks to Billy's house."

I got tears in my eyes ... the good one.

and
my "Phebe" ... in the window was
in 1951
P.T. Greens
little sister, Betty !

neat photos a "country" that I never really dreamed / dream about
our ponds were frozen puddles on the pavement.

departuredelayed said...

I could really use that second-hand plumbing/heating supplies place. Not only is it a gorgeous place that I'd simply like to have in my life, I also desperately need my heating fixed. Out for over a week now.

I also noted the use of "lunch" as a verb. This is a practice about which I'm quite ambivalent, but strangely enough I am very supportive of its use in signage.

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Jack and Jack sure got it, one in words ("my walking-stick and feeling-stick to find where puddles and creeklets have disappeared under two feet of snow this day") and one in pictures (those boys on frozen lake, "vicinity of Brockton"). Weather's changed here today. . .

12.18

light coming into fog against invisible
ridge, black shape of black pine branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

folds of varied photographs,
self portrait painted

behind him in place of that,
unplanned, invariably

orange circle of sun rising above ridge,
whiteness of moon in sky across from it

Nin Andrews said...

I love these posts of 1930-1940s-- Gives one a kind of jolt from the not-so-distant past.

TC said...

Re. Kodachrome:

"If you have good light and you’re at a fairly high shutter speed [with Kodachrome], it’s going to be a brilliant color photograph. It had a great color palette. It wasn’t too garish. Some films are like you’re on a drug or something. Velvia made everything so saturated and wildly over-the-top, too electric. Kodachrome had more poetry in it, a softness, an elegance. With digital photography, you gain many benefits [but] you have to put in post-production. [With Kodachrome,] you take it out of the box and the pictures are already brilliant." -- Steve McCurry

The Last Roll of Kodachrome -- Frame-by-Frame

Ed Baker said...

Ektachrome was also ....

now?

how to print from the slides
.... 1,000 slides all-round
Mexico 1967?

I sure miss my Minolta

Ed Baker said...

just checked... the Mexico slides WHERE/are

Kodachrome. Kodachrome Transparency.

(the Ektachrome came later)

10-15 years of using a SLR camera
using your OWN eye to focus
should be a requirement for
ALL poets....

then the words ....

ACravan said...

We visited a store yesterday to purchase a new digital camera for Jane for Christmas. She's an avid photographer (a good one too) and the camera we gave her a couple of years ago suddenly failed in the way cars weirdly fail now because of computer software glitches that you can't repair for any kind of reasonable price and no one cares or is able to explain to you. The salesperson showed us his digital photography portfolio and it was really impressive and clearly reflected post-production work on the images. I thought then about Kodachrome and the wonderful old mechanical cameras I owned, including the first really good one I had, which my father bestowed on me when he moved up to something he thought was a little better. Curtis