- Written by webmin
Do we run around Jimmy Stewart-style screaming in the middle of the streets, “This is awesome! I live in the year 2010! I’m going to drink in every sight and every sound, drive every car, visit every store on Main Street!” No. For the most part, we go about our daily routines and take for granted where and when we live, not thinking for a moment about history. We have always done that, and we always will do that. We are stuck in the present, dreaming about our futures and shedding our pasts like snakeskins.
Why so philosophical? It’s partially the fault of yellerspirit, who, when he asked us about the Ruggedness Run Terraplane the other day, introduced us to the University of Vermont’s Landscape Change Program, an online photo archive of the Green Mountain State that we’d not yet run across. Sure, we’ve seen online photo archives from across the country, but this one literally hit home and thus sucked us in for hours as we combed through the photos of Bennington, piecing together a history to this town beyond the Revolutionary War battles, beyond Robert Frost, even beyond Karl Martin and his Wasp. What fascinated me the most were the everyday street scenes that showed a town familiar, yet slightly different, from the Bennington we know today, where burned-down buildings stood tall yet again, where policemen simply stand on the corner watching traffic, where out-of-fashion apparel is proudly sported (okay, so that’s not so different from modern-day Bennington).
And, of course, the cars. The lensmen behind these photos never meant to document the contemporary automotive scene, but they captured it anyway, whether it’s a solitary La Salle Chrysler sitting on a snow-covered street at night in front of the Putnam Hotel, a first-gen Ford Thunderbird ferrying some parade queen in front of the old Vermont Savings Bank on the other side of the Four Corners, or a line of traffic heading into town to peruse some antique show.
It’s enough to awaken all those daydreams of time travel inspired by Michael J. Fox and a DeLorean just so I can live in these moments, just so I can go screaming down the streets literally reveling in the past.