Hello, and welcome summer! The official longest day (and shortest night) of the year is today, and with the sun out in full force, things are heating up!
Rod Stewart, that one time "mod" singer, released a song and an album in 1971 titled "Every Picture Tells a Story." Well, that they do! Attached is a postcard image of Main Street, looking west (towards North Easton center) taken from Langwater Pond. Take a close look at it. While this particular postcard shows a lot of wear and tear, it also tells us a lot about how postcards like this were created.
At first, this looks like a normal scene on Main Street, circa 1915 or so. One would expect a dirt road, nicely fenced yards in front of fine homes, and beautifully leafed out green trees shading the roadway. A closer look on the left of the road reveals trolley tracks, which is accurate. On the sidewalk to the right are three children. So what is amiss?
Postcards like these were the result of a skilled photographer. A black and white photo was taken and developed. Keep in mind that color photography was not easily done at this time. If the photographer (or client) approved the image, it could then be sent off for printing the postcard. In the case of a black and white photo being converted to a color print, two things were important to know. First, nearly all of these early color postcards were printed in Germany, where the process for color printing had been refined to a very high quality. Second, since someone in Germany would not know much at all about a scene like this back here in the States, they relied heavily on notes supplied by the photographer. Those notes dictated what colors to use, where to use them, and often added some dramatic flair. For example, we have postcard images of the same buildings with different color roof tiles, all because one photographer liked red tiles and another thought blue slate would look better. In this case, the colors used are probably accurate for the fences and houses, but I am not sure about the orange roofs!
I mentioned the three children on the sidewalk. They were probably posed for the photo, something photographers commonly did with anyone around who wanted to be in the image. However, the nice old car is an invention of the photographer! The car was certainly not in the photo when it was taken, but at the request of the photographer, was drawn in before final printing to enhance the scene. A little artistic license, if you will. So when you see old postcards, take a good look at them. Not only are you seeing a nice view, but you are also getting an idea of the photographers imagination in creating the scene.
Stay well, and a happy Father's Day!
Until next week,
Frank T. Meninno
Curator, Easton Historical Society and Museum 508-238-7774