"My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that’s true,
For we’ve been comrades, you and I --
I thank God for each day of you;
There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!"
~ Robert W. Service, "The Passing of the Year."
An arduous year has concluded, making way for a new one. Although I speak in relation to the Western calendar, with weeks and months appearing as the dotted lines of municipal peripheries, there remains a sense of new frontiers. We may each mark the anniversaries of our personal milestones, ascribing meanings of our own. But with the prospect of a new year, I noticed time thresholds while routinely re-inking my pen. In this context, some of my everyday routines absorbed the marking of time passing.
In recent years, I have been profoundly engaged in a large project resulting from my rescuing of seventy years of newspaper photographic negatives, which I’ve been organizing and conserving into an exhaustive documentary archive. The trove of many hundreds of thousands of pieces of film had been destined for disposal- but that has surely been prevented. In the almost-daily pursuit of identification and indexing, I’ve been examining- and in a metaphorical sense, inhabiting- each of these images, one at a time, marking their eras, and travelling through the decades from the 1930s to the mid-2000s. As New Year’s Eve approached the present threshold of 2016, I catalogued June of 1954. Amidst descriptive work to index Memorial Day of 1954, the back of my thoughts began to perceive the close of 2015. Yesterday, while identifying the photo (below), of a Mr. Sampson opening his new grocery store in 1954, I mused at my light-table, and noticed the radiating pride of a family businessman. He was surely looking confidently toward the future.
With my 4x magnifier, I looked closer, and remarked at a gesture of eager preparedness: Mr. Sampson had no less than eight sharpened pencils in his tweed suit pocket, pointed up and at the ready. Hope sprung eternal in Mr. Sampson’s spring of 1954, and I am burrowing through the winter of 2015-2016 determined to be undaunted. It’s a new year. Sharpen the pencils, ink the pen, oil the typewriter carriage, take some deep fresh-air breaths, and persevere. Out with old; be equipped for the new.
Along with the grocery store photo, and numerous sundry group pictures from the society pages, I identified a Mr. Jacobsen (below) at his desk. It seemed insufficient to leave it at that; I enriched the finding aid (the archival term for a collections inventory) with an additional line about the table radio behind him, as well as the pencil. This is more than a portrait for a news item: he is assiduously at work. There are tasks to be completed, and he is ready!
Today, more than 61 years after the above photos were taken (and they haven’t seen the light of day since), I am gathering my forces to venture into 2016. Indeed, as I write this, I hope to encourage you in your future constructive pursuits. Remaining encouraged is essential.