Tuesday, November 6, 2012

FOLLOW-UP: February 17, 1950: Rockville Centre Train Derailment

I searched the New York Times Historical database today to see what more I could learn about the Rockville Centre train derailment that took place in February of 1950.

I found this article that not only listed each of the casualties and all those injured but showed the exact location of the accident.

I wish I could make it larger so it was easier for you to read:

February 17, 1950: Rockville Centre Train Derailment

The other morning I woke to find my father had left me a stack of old family photos bundled together by a rubberband. Really dad, really?? A rubberband?

Anyway, among the photos were these 7 pictures. I can not identify anyone in them or where exactly it was photographed or by whom BUT, there is a date written on the back; "Feb. 1950."

 So I googled "Long Island train derailment February 1950" and found this entry in wikipedia

February 17, 1950 – Rockville Centre, New York, United States: Two passenger trains collide head-on at Rockville Centre train station. The engineer of train number 192 ignored an Approach and the following Stop signals and collided with train number 175 on temporary gantleted (overlapping) track which had been installed to facilitate a grade separation project. Both engineers survived but 31 people were killed, and more than 100 people injured.[1]


My father would have only been 2 1/2 months old at the time of this accident. My grandfather was a machine operator. I suspect he may have been the one to take these pictures and perhaps he worked on the crash site. I don't know for sure but I am now on the hunt to understand how we came to hold on to these pictures for so long.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Salvaging Family Photos

Part of the reason I have not been posting to my blog is because I live on Long Island, NY. On October 28, Hurricane Sandy hit my beloved island hard. I was not here at the time of the storm as I was delivering a paper at a conference in Baltimore; a much safer, saner place for me to be.

Prior to my departure for the conference my sister gave birth to my parents' first grandchild; a girl, Sofia. She is beautiful and she is living her first few days with us here rather than in my sister's house because of the storm. Sandy unleashed 58 inches of water into their basement. It would be unsound to bring their newborn home until issues of power, heat, and mold have been resolved. And so Sofie sleeps without a care in the room her mother grew up in surrounded by her parents, grandparent, pet bulldog, Aunt April, and friends; oblivious that this is not normal.

I have been lending a hand to a dear friend who was affected by the storm as well. He fared pretty well all considered; however, he did lose his car and some cherished family photos. That is where I come in. I am trying to save whatever pictures I can for him. We haven't really had a fight about it, although we have had some cross stares with furrowed brows. He says that this is just stuff that he lived these images he doesn't need to save them; but I am certain he says this out of frustration and being overwhelmed. I keep saying that you have to save them or else how will they know. How will Who Know What? How will your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, ect. know of the love that brought them here, how will they know who you were if they have no objects, no tokens, no documentation of the lives that existed that brought you here.

I am not talking about saving snapshots of nothing. I am talking about saving photos from the 1800s, baby pictures, first Christmases, wedding photos, photos of souls long gone, moments of love... We know not the degree to which that love existed but for the people in the photos it was a moment they wanted to capture in their own time and somehow it remains. I have to try to save them.

In any case, if your photos have been water damaged, they can often be salvaged. Photos are made in water. If need be you can soak them apart. The best course of action is to remove loose dirt and debris by rinsing your photos in a basin of cold clear running water until the water runs clean. Do not run water directly on them as this may cause further damage to the already softened emulsions. Lay them flat to dry. Do not cover them at this point. Let them fully dry. If they curl up simply take them once they are fully dry and press them in your heaviest books. Here are some more in depth tips from Image Permanence Institute: https://www.imagepermanenceinstitute.org/webfm_send/314 

As I have said, my house and family photos remained unharmed through this severe storm; thank God! This morning I woke to a bundle of old photo my father left on the kitchen counter for me before heading off to his job at the Long Island Power Authority. Among them was this photo; my Grandpa Edwin M. Earle Sr., his maternal Uncle Luman Losee, and grandpa's brother Allen Preston Earle circa 1945. 

Grandpa was a Navy man. Until this morning I had never seen this photo. I had never seen him so young. And only now I recall images of him with thick dark hair; like Sofie's. Since the moment I saw Sofie I have said that my Grandpa Earle (a.k.a. Poppy) would have loved those cheeks of hers. How will she know anything of him if I do not save this photo for her and fill her ears with stories of him and his ultra-sensitive crabby ways. How will they know?