Pictoral blast from my past

Photo booths use a direct positive process, imprinting the image directly to the paper — creating a one-of-a-kind artifact.

I used to have this red photo album, where I stored pictures of my childhood. It was lost many years ago, and virtually all the photos I now have prior to turning 18 I scrounged from my parents’ house, duplicates of some, but hardly all of my childhood memories.

Then my high school friend Steve – it was at his Unitarian church’s basement where I first heard the Beatles white album – started digging through boxes that have been in storage for 40 years, and found these.

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Here’s a high school prom picture. Front row was Cecily, Michele, Karen and Lois. Back row was Roger, George, George and Steve.

We, along with a few others, were the socially liberal, antiwar demonstrating, civil rights marching section of the student body. Most of these folks weren’t dating each other. This would have been the 1970 high school prom of Cecily, Michele and the Georges; Karen, Lois and I, who went to kindergarten together, graduated the following year. Steve left to go to the Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, NY, which he described as a “Quaker version of Woodstock.”

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These were pictures, undoubtedly taken at a Woolworth’s, not terribly far from Binghamton Central High School, which is now, and since 1982, Binghamton High School. This is Michele, Steve and I doing what one does in a tiny room, the camera flashing every ten seconds or so. I probably never saw these since they popped out of the side of the booth over 45 years ago.

In the era of the selfie, if you never had a photo booth picture taken at a Woolworth’s or like venue, I should explain this process. There’s a booth, with a curtain, and you would get three or four photos for 25 or 50 cents. For years they were always in black and white, though the latter years had color. It didn’t take very long to process, although the three minutes waiting seemed like an eternity.

And the pictures were unique. “There are no copies, no negatives. Photo booths use a direct positive process, imprinting the image directly to the paper — creating a one-of-a-kind artifact.”

I understand that there are photo booths that are currently for rent at parties.

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This is me with Cecily, a few blocks from the high school. What the heck was I carrying? The setting, undoubtedly, was meant to be ironic. This is a picture I once DID own, but was lost for decades.

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Finally, a page from my high school newspaper, in which I had a column as Pa Central. There were various people who were Pa Central or Ma Central before me.

I think I wrote four columns, the first three in which I took myself far too seriously, I realized even at the time. The last one, which is shown, was lighter in tone. To that end, I snatched this pic from my mom, and asked them to run this instead of what I usually used. It is POSSIBLE that I have a copy of this periodical in my attic, but I would be hard pressed to find it.

Thanks, Steve.
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WOMEN TAKING PHOTOBOOTH ‘SELFIES’ FROM THE 1900S TO THE 1970S (AND BEYOND)

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

9 thoughts on “Pictoral blast from my past”

  1. We also had a sort of Woolworth booths with curtains. You were a very goodlooking guy!
    So you were also a demonstrator. So was I, 40 years ago. Together with my husband and three children we went to the Hague to demonstrate against the cruise missiles. That was one great happening.Every now and then we went to the Houses of Parliament in the Hague to protest against the nuclear arms race.I was a member of several peace movements.Those were the days!!.
    Well for now… Great week.
    Wil, ABCW Team

  2. Do you remember Steve’s address, or even just the street, on the West side? I believe Bonnie Raitt went to Oakwood Friends School as well. Interesting that I was on the periphery of this group; must be related to whom I was dating at the time. K’s letter to the editor was interesting too – I have fond memories of that era. Do you remember ‘two heads are better than one’?

  3. C- no recollection of Steve’s address but I’m FB friends with him, so I could ask him.

  4. Downright dapper in that prom photo, I say.

    Photo booths were fairly ubiquitous when I was that age, but it never occurred to me to avail myself of their services. In retrospect, I was dumb.

  5. so much fun to see your memory photos. I remember the photo booths. Your pictures look like you had a lot of fun! For some reason there is a universal feeling or longing to remember our youth and you as always write about it all so well.

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