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.

Here’s a high school prom picture. The front row was Cecily, Michele, Karen, and Lois. The 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.”

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.


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.

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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