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On the passing of an older America

Here are three photos that were brought to the last workshop for the community memoir/public art project that Patty and I are conducting in northwestern Illinois. The first was taken in 1900, and shows one of the most established families in Mount Carroll:
Paul Christian brought it to the workshop. He is the grandson of the people in this photo, and he is the seventh generation of the Christian family to reside in Mount Carroll.

The next photo was taken in 1924, and shows Lois Zuck and her mother dressed as, ahem, Indians, in preparation to take part in a parade at the Mount Carroll fair:

Lois (on the left, aged 5) is the 90 year old woman who attended the last workshop. I propose to make no commentary upon their dress or the occasion, but merely offer it for what it is: a fascinating snapshot of rural American life nearly a century ago.

The last one was provided by Cheryl Rahn-Matznick, and shows her high school homecoming in 1961:
The adults in the first photo were probably born in the 1870s and 1880s. The parents or grandparents of all the people in the three photos were almost certainly born in the nineteenth century. Here we are, ten years into the 21st century, and two of the people actually in these photos were at the workshop last Friday evening. The memories that these photos evoked for them were mainly about time passing, the closeness of family ties, the rhythms and procedures of farming life -- small details, nothing grand or historical or political. In other words, just what Patty and I expected for the project: not a full oral history, but an accumulation of instances, fragments, moments, that together add up to a memoir in words and pictures that now spans three centuries of a community's history.
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  1. Philip and Patty you are helping us rewrite our history. Moving away from historical interpretation and grand outlines you are putting together a new identity from the pieces and fragments of the memories of individuals and families

  2. David! Thanks for the comment. By the way, is your internet moniker a reference to Salvus regina?

  3. Nan and I have used "salvus" in reference to our work in counseling others, using what we understand is the Latin root meaning "healing" that is used in the English word "salvation." We came up with the name Salvus Corporation for our S-corporation to comply with the tax code. So it is not as grand as the Salvus Regina, but in the same vein perhaps.

  4. Great work, you two! I raved about you at 'The Film Room.'


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