Thursday, April 3, 2008

Patten, Maine and Dundalk, Maryland-- Two Small, Somewhat Similar American Towns

In order for you to understand what my Northern Maine Adventures truly meant to an eighteen-year-old, Baltimore area, suburban kid you must know a little about where I lived, and what my life was like, just before I moved to Maine.

Throughout this new web site of mine, "The World's First Digital Coffee Table Book," I am telling both northern Maine and Baltimore, Maryland area based, 1968-69 era, fact filled, fun filled historical stories.

For those good reasons, I am going to show you a photo of "downtown" Patten, Maine and a photo of "downtown" Dundalk, Maryland. The photos were taken 40 years apart, but neither downtown area has changed very much during those 40 years.

Nah' folks, there really wasn't a dirt road going through Patten, Maine, circa 1967, when the photo was taken. Main Street was being dug up, repaired and repaved.

They had to dig so deep down under where the surface of the tar topped street had been because there used to be whole logs embedded under it all across the entire center of town there. Whole logs had been installed back in the olden days, to provide road support. I believe I heard it was an aggravating engineering mistake of bone shaking proportions from the 1800s. In wintertime, frost "heaves" up anything solid that is under any tar topped road surface up there in northern Maine. Consequently, every winter, it became unbearably bumpy when driving through town, until the street work shown in those two photos was completed.

Compare the above digital, JPEG file copy of my photo of downtown Patten, Maine circa 1967, with the different JPEG file copy of the same photo that is below this text. The above copy is as good as I can do with digital photograph enhancements.

I am sufficiently experienced and fully capable at custom hand printing photographs in a photographic "wet" lab, but I have no digital photography experience. I need to learn digital photography.

The JPEG copy above shows the lower half of the Patten photo best, with fairly discernible detail in the street and sidewalk areas of the photo. The copy below displays the potential for great looking clouds in a digital, full customization of the photo. I am not speaking about over enhancing, adding anything to or faking anything for a final, really nice digital file version of the photo. I simply desire to bring the late 1960s, historic, subject matter, along with its interesting details seen in the photograph, out past the limitations of those two current JPEG files of it. So that we can all enjoy seeing the history much better.

These two JPEG files were created from a print that was copied from an older print, which was developed by my neighborhood, now long gone, Stansbury Pharmacy photo service; and that older print was printed from a negative that had been exposed using a cheap, little Kodak Instamatic Camera.

This is a recent photo of Dundalk Village Shopping Center, in Maryland. This street is Shipping Place. It is the "Main Street" in the neighborhood where I grew up, and where I live today.

You can see that Dundalk's main street has similarities to Main Street in Patten. Both commercial districts have about the same amount of retail space, with apartments above some of the stores. It's just that Dundalk has all of its retail/residential buildings on one side of its main street.

On the other side of Shipping Place there is the small Veteran's Park, in two separate sections; also, over there is the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society Museum; and the Dundalk Post Office is on that side of the street too.

When I was taking that photo of downtown Patten, the Patten Post Office was to the right and somewhere behind me. But Patten doesn't need any parks, because it is surrounded by miles and miles of farms and woodlands.

In 1969, when most of the photos on this web site were taken, and when most of my written stories about my adventures in Maine took place, the "downtown" areas of both Dundalk and Patten were very lively places of retail commerce. They were very sociable, small American towns. Friendly places where local teenagers had good times hanging out a lot, but did not cause too much trouble. So when I moved from Maryland to Maine, Dundalk's small town type of lifestyle helped me to fit right in up there in Patten.

If you would like to see more photos of Dundalk, Md., click on the link in the upper right side column for Photo Albums of David Robert Crews on There is a Dundalk, and a Maine, photo album on there. The full extent of my photography talents are well represented, in eight photo albums, at the other end of that link.

During 1970-71, I was a US Army photographer. Photos and stories from that part of my life are linked to this page over in the right side column. The links are An American GI On Okinawa In 1970-71 and also Lieutenant T. Gordan Barber and The Stolen Marine Corps Property. But, after my honorable discharge from the Army, I was not an active photographer again until 1999.

From around 1999 to 2003, I was a part time photography student at Dundalk Community College. I had full use of the black and white and color photo "wet" labs at DCC. The labs were top-of-the-line; the instructors and lab aids were fully competent at their professions.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the digital photography revolution is winning a modernization war against film photography; and the terms of surrender for old-time film photographers, like me, is that most wet labs must be shut down. The DCC wet labs I worked in are two of those defeated former bastions of film based photography.

The guy who ran the DCC photo labs, Mark Trojan, is my age, and we have much in common. For one, he and I each attended a 1972 Pink Floyd concert at the acoustically perfect Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, separately, we did not meet until 1999 at DCC, but our memories of that stupendous Pink Floyd concert are nearly-exactly the same. Mark kept a rockin' little ol' stereo system in the photo lab's central, lighted work space. He and I both own large libraries of recorded music, which are quite similar. That all boils down to I did a lot of hard, successful work in those wet labs and had a truly great time at it.

There are photographs of Maine and Mainers and me on here that were scanned from 8x10 photographs, which I custom hand printed in the DCC wet labs, from 1968-69 era negatives.

If anyone is interested in paying to use any of my photographs for commercial purposes, know that some of my photos are capable of looking a whole lot crispier through the magic of multiple ones and zeros. some need digital help, but most are excellent as they are.

You can contact me at: ursusdave at yahoo dot com

I am chomping at the bit to go full digital with my photography and to learn how to do custom digital work on the old photographs on this blog.

See this website as a book, viewing it a page at a time. Turn the pages by clicking on that OLDER POST button below. 

Click on HOME under this to go to the first page.

There is a table of contents over in the right hand column at the bottom of every page - under BLOG ARCHIVE. 

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