A fitting set of images and sentiments for today. The Boston Public Library has an incredible set of old-time winter scenes shot in and around Boston during the early 20th century. What’s piques my attention in these photographs is the fact that many of the pictured moments are so similar to those of today —from snow filled streets to a towering stack of Christmas trees— though the times are obviously vastly different. To see the packages piled high at the train depot (South Station I believe), the range of photos of people digging out from blankets of snow and the empty nighttime streets after what must have been cold hard days fill me with ideas about what life must have been like way back then.
It is good to reflect on how much change has come in the time since these photos, but it’s also nice to know that some things don’t change. When I talk about (and celebrate) the heritage of companies, part of the historical appeal to me comes from the (sometimes fallacious) idea that these old products allow me the chance to interact with a thing in the same way that people before my time did. To put it more simply, those things connect me to the past. To walk literally in the same boots of an American man who lived generations before me is a concept that I am drawn to. While that sounds better in concept than practice, certain things —a pair of 1944 Levi’s 501s, some Red Wing 877s— posses as much of a glimmer of the past to me as these photos do. That’s where the celebration of nostalgia takes root for me. It’s not just for wanting of a “more simple time”, it is more about having a connection to the people that came before me.
The easy pace and calm of the holidays have allowed for the time to reflect on both the moments that have gone and the ones still to come. With an eye on what’s to come in the new year, here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season to all of you.
Related: Kodachrome Christmas memories.
All images courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.