Thursday, July 4, 2024

From the Archives: July 4, 1944, celebrations, Post Island, Massachusetts

The family beach cottage (house), Post Island, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA

My dad spent part of World War II in Puerto Rico working for the US Navy. He was a civilian engineer, and when the project ended, he returned home to Boston. His sister and brother-in-law owned a cottage (house) on the shore at Post Island, a section of the Hough's Neck Peninsula that projects out into Massachusetts Bay. He joined them and the other beach residents for old-fashioned 4th of July celebrations.

Uncle Cliff and the horseshoes
The Penny search in the sand
Aunt Mary at the potato race
Watermelon consumption contest
Costume contest
Tennis champions with non-tennis shoes
Enjoying a short one in a genuine woody station wagon
Dianne enjoying a mackerel
Dulcie, Aunt Mary, and Joe on the beach

These Kodachromes record a world that looks so ordinary, so Americana. Children are enjoying a holiday at the beach. The gents are building an addition to a house. Girls are playing tennis. The very innocence of these scenes is the point. 

War was waging on three continents. Terrific battles were being waged on the Pacific Islands, in France and China, and on the horrifying Eastern Front. Civilians in China and Russia were starving. Most families in these pictures had a relative or neighbor overseas or on the oceans. 

But in Massachusetts on this sunny July day, life looked so normal. There was no destruction, hunger, or fear. The houses were neat and intact. The lights were on. By 1944, civilians could buy butter, sugar, coffee, and gasoline, although the latter may have still been rationed. The miseries of war seemed far away.

In a total contrast, in 1944, my mother was a child in Berlin. Life there was much more brutal.

My dad was able to afford and buy 35mm Kodachrome film and use it for family snapshots. Possibly he had bought the rolls at the navy post exchange on Puerto Rico before he returned to the mainland, but regardless, he felt secure enough in its availability to use it for casual photographs. It underscores the amazing capability of our industrial output. 

These photographs are the original 35mm Kodachrome. I think the film speed was Weston 8 or approximately ASA 10. I am not sure if my dad used an electronic light meter then. The camera might have been his Perfex, made by the Candid Camera Corporation of Chicago, Illinois, with unknown 50mm lens. I scanned these slides on my Nikon CoolScan 5000 film scanner, operated by NikonScan software on a Windows 7 computer.


Mike said...

A nice record of '40s styles in those well-preserved slides. The Perfex looks to have been a capable performer in its day.

Kodachromeguy said...

Thanks, Mike. I remember my dad mentioning his Perfex. It was stolen when his car was vandalized some time post-war. I am not sure what he used as a substitute until he moved to Guam in 1947. There, he acquired a Canon (Leica lookalike) and, in 1949, a Leica IIIC.

-Nate said...

Very nice article .

I grew up in and around the Boston area and remember it much like these images .

-Nate said...

Thanks, Nate. Boston, in the 1960s and early 1970s, did not look much different.

I tried to find if this house still stands but never visited Post Island in person. I tried a Google Street view, but do not have a picture of the land (street) side of the house.