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Other people’s pictures, 1930s

A Thousand Words
By Jock Lauterer

Some people collect old stamps; others collect old coins. I collect old photographs. But not just any photos – other people’s old photos. People I don’t even know. Somewhere inside all of us is the voyeur, the nosy neighbor, the curious bystander. I look at this old photo of The Four Urchins, as I call them, and wonder. Who are these kids? Where is this situated? When was it made? Who took the picture and why? What were the kids doing? And ultimately, whatever happened to “Our Gang?” Oddly, I can’t remember how I came into possession of this image, so it’s all the more of a history-detective conundrum to me. So I’m guessing here: Depression-era, the 1930s in the Northeast, the boys are standing in front of their orphanage (see the nurse and the Red Cross symbol in the background) and they were playing some sort of make-believe game involving capes. But who knows? That’s what keeps me staring at such an image. Maybe one of these ragamuffins is my kin? Even if not, aren’t we all related – by our common human experience? And that’s what keeps us looking.

Do you have an important old photo that you value? Email your photo to jock@email.unc.edu and include the story behind the picture. Because every picture tells a story. And its worth? A thousand words.
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