FIREMEN'S PARADE

The place and time: Wyckoff New Jersey, Memorial Day 1951. The volunteer firemen of Sicomac Engine Company No. 3 are marching in the annual parade, my dad among them. I found and restored this collection of Kodachrome slides when he died last year. My mother took the photos in her characteristic bold style that made no concessions to the direction of the sun.

The pictures show the American middle class at its zenith. In some ways, the photos have the same irreplaceability as visions of bison herds with flocks of passenger pigeons overhead. True, there was plenty of intolerance and injustice, but little of it touched Wyckoff. Most people felt they were critical components of the community. Teachers were revered, and the two town schoolbus drivers were included in class photos. The richest people in town might make twice as much as your family, and everybody loved an opportunity to wear a uniform.

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