This is long. Sorry. But it's a lecture I gave last month at the University of Michigan.
A beautiful Easter Sunday here in Cambridge, with yellow tulips in bloom in my front yard. I remember childhood Easters in Pennsylvania and the frustration of having to wear a coat, covering up the new dress that I would wear to Sunday School. New clothes were a big deal then. Twice a year we would take a trip to Harrisburg---I think only about 18 miles, but it seemed a huge excursion---my sister, mother, and I, (it was a ritual that my sister and I held our breath while we drove across the bridge that crossed the Susquhanna River) and go to a big department store to get new clothes. Following the shopping we would go to the park in front of the capital building, and feed the pigeons with peanuts from a vendor with a cart. Everything seemed adventurous and exciting back in those days when kids were not overloaded with advetures and excitement.
I am always aware when I start to fall into "in my day..." tales of simpler times, and how I rolled my eyes in feigned boredom as an adolescent when my mother did the same thing. How I treasure her stories now! Some years ago, in a book called The Silent Boy, which is set in a small Pennsylvania town in the early 1900s, I used some of those childhood stories of my mother's. She was gone by the time I wrote that book (which is illustrated with old photographs, including some of her).
My mother's aunt, my Great Aunt Mary, was a photographer in the early twentieth century and left some remarkable photographs, including this one from 1910.