But who had taken these photos?
There was a clue. One of the photos mentioned "Carpenter's Grip". My son, Eliot, got onto the internet and just happened to find an antique bottle of this cold and flu remedy for sale. It seems the maker of this elixir had been a druggist for many years in Middletown Springs, Vermont. Searches for his name led to an article in an old newspaper and information about the town from the website of the Middletown Springs Historical Society. One bit of information clinched it for me: Dana Carpenter had been an amateur photographer. I'm now convinced that the photos are his.
|The clue to the name of the photographer.|
Below are some more of Dana Carpenter's photos (I've spared you the one of the charred corpse.):
|Girl picking daisies or black-eyed susans.|
|Retirement before the age of television.|
|A very trusting Red Squirrel.|
|Night soil men or maple sugar collectors?|
|Feeding a lamb with a baby bottle.|
|The first car to come to town?|
In the 110 years since these photos were taken rural Vermont has changed. Cars have replaced horses, the dairy industry is nearly dead, the streets are paved, bulky skirts and baggy woollen pants have given way to jeans, and hard physical labour has been replaced by computer drudgery. And now of course the world is in 256-bit colour. It's interesting to speculate on what life may have been like back then. Were the people like us? Were these happier times? Vermonters of that era were well fed and had a good life-span. We have better medicines now but, as for a cure for the common cold, "Carpenter's Grip" may have been just as good as anything we have now. We can never really know.
In any event, all thanks to Dana Carpenter, drug-store-proprietor, bottler of "Carpenter's Grip", ice-cream maker, telephone manager, amateur botanist, and---not least---photographer extraordinaire for giving us a glimpse into a vanished world.