9.25.2009

Tamaqua Then and Now


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This book is a collection of photographs/postcards—then and now—of the town of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, where I grew up. I graduated from Tamaqua Area Joint Senior High School in 1961, worked for two years at the Evening Courier, a newspaper that no longer exists, then joined the U.S. Navy. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, I was able to go to Penn State and I never really returned to Tamaqua except for visits to family.

So this book is a long overdue return visit. I collected old photographs and postcards of Tamaqua from many sources and then walked around town on two days in July 2009 taking new photographs of old sites. I did not use anything other than my eyes to attempt to match the new with the old. For the most part, I shot with a 10:20 lens because I believed that only a wide-angle lens would recapture the past. The camera actually captured much more than the originals, so I then cropped to more or less match.

This book is a work in progress and a labor of love. Although there is some history attached to some of the photographs, for the most part it’s the comparative scenes that I was most interested in. After all, I’m not a historian and I don’t have the resources to track down the history of each building. But I do have a camera.

I wasn’t able to photograph every site to match every postcard or photograph that I have. I just plain forgot to shoot the Majestic Hotel, and a truck that was parked in front of Odd Fellows’ Cemetery for days on end made me skip that scene. Heavy foliage kept me from shooting some scenes from the road to New England Valley and lack of time or foul weather kept me from getting some other photographs.

Given that some day I hope to go back and also my hope that other old photographs and postcards will surface, I’d like to think of this book as a first edition or first in a series. I love Tamaqua—it really was an important part of my life—and I’d like to help contribute to remembering it in my way.

I’d like to suggest that someone organize a major one-year photoshoot in Tamaqua to record what the town is like now so a century hence residents will have photos for comparison. When I think of all of the buildings that have disappeared in my lifetime (including the Courier!), I realize how important it is to document the town now for the day when it will be the town then.

R Thomas Berner

5 comments:

  1. Tom. I like your book a lot. Tamaqua looks like a nice town to have grown up in!

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  2. I was a paperboy between 1958 and 1964 for the Courier. I remeber running in to you in Venice, Italy on a night when you had shore patrol. I found this site googling Tamaqua, looking for a picture of the Texas Lunch for my ex-coach Angie Konstas. Tamaqua was the greatest place to grow up. A typical coal cracker town, hard working, good people. Vince Suzadail Jr.

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  3. Vince:
    Good to hear from you. I just saw a photo of flooding in Venice. Glad we're not there now!

    Tell Angie I said hello.

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  4. Did you know my uncle - Roy Ackerman? He was the photographer for the Evening Courier and was one of those 'unforgettable characters' !

    Also - my dad, Merle Gerhard, was a Tamaqua "Mail Man" and I loved trying to stump him by naming any street address in the town - but he always knew 'who lived there' !

    Finally, my mom was Irene Ackerman Gerhard - the music teacher in the Tamaqua schools for quite a few years!

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  5. WOW! Who could forget Roy Ackerman? He was the hippest Newspaper Photographer in all Schuylkill county. Loved his style and Corvettes

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