Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Boys Will Be Boys


Stephanie and I moved from Boston to New Bedford in 1965. That was where I was born and spent my childhood. Back in the eighteenth and nineteenth century it was considered the whaling capitol of the world. Whale oil, baleen, and ivory made the town wealthy. The great sailing ships would go on voyages lasting from two to three years in search of whales, from the artic to the antartic, and put into ports in China, India, the Azores, and elsewhere, so all kinds of exotic trinkets, jewelry, porcelain, and art were found in the houses. The ship owners and captains became wealthy men.

On the hillside overlooking the downtown and the well protected harbor beyond were large elaborate houses. Many were topped by an extra story consisting of one tiny room with lots of windows. These were called "widows walks" for the wives who'd spend their days up there looking out over the harbor to Buzzards Bay beyond, in hopes of catching sight of their husband's ship returning from a voyage. Many didn't. Some did, but bearing only the sad news that a husband had died. The last whaling ship that still used sail left the harbor in 1918. Thomas Edison did away with the need for whale oil as lamp fuel, celluloid and changing ladies fashions did away with the need for baleen for corset stays, and whales were becoming scarce.

By mid twentieth century many of those old houses nearest downtown, essentially the oldest ones, had been subdivided into apartments as the buildings had been upgraded with indoor plumbing and central heat. We rented a one bedroom apartment at 195 Cottage Street for $40.00 a month including heat, water, and electricity. The bathroom was huge, as big as a small bedroom really. It was probably used for something else before the remodeling. There was plenty of room to set up a table for an enlarger and some trays.

These boys were riding their bikes and goofing around on the steet out front. They spotted my camera and shouted the familiar "Hey, Mister! Take my picture!" We've all heard it and when I did I usually obliged. I still do. Obviously I didn't set up a carefull posed picture. I joked around with them for a few minutes, getting off maybe a dozen frames. I was using a 35mm f/1.8 Canon lens on either my black dial III-f or my grey III-ck body.

2 Comments:

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10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:40 AM  

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