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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Going back in time

  • Before telephones, CB radios the internet and email, there were postcards.
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  • Before telephones, CB radios the internet and email, there were postcards.
    "It was our communications," said Mike Harris of Penn Publishing.
    Harris is coordinating the new book, "Picture Postcards of Northeast Pennsylvania & Sullivan County, New York."
    The book, coordinated and sold through The Wayne Independent, features Wayne, Pike and Lackawanna counties in Pennsylvania and Sullivan and Delaware counties in New York.
    Harris said he has been working on these books for the past 20 years for Penn Publishing.
    "We were approached by a newspaper in West Virginia and they were looking for something different," said Harris.
    He called the first publications "reflection books of people, places and things."
    The first book published in Honesdale reflects that model.
    Then, said Harris, they came up with the idea of doing a postcard book. The rest, as they say, is history, so to speak.
    Harris said this is the seventh book he has worked on for Honesdale. It is a normally formatted book and printed on a four-color press.
    "Really interesting," is how Harris describes his career of doing these books. His territory was everything east of the Mississippi River.
    Harris said he has looked at more than 300,000 photos in his lifetime.
    "I have seen what this country looked like since the Civil War," said Harris.
    Harris said some things are typical of all towns across the country. Those include the clothes and automobiles. Almost all had a town square along with a church and school. Some housed the church, school and town hall in the same building.
    But places also have their personalities, he said.
    Some may have been logging areas and others had coal mining.
    "But what you see that's universal is the determination of the people," said Harris. "They knew this was a hard life. They were thinking about tomorrow, not today."
    What he's also discovered is how important photographs were back in those days.
    "Most of the work we do was done by a professional photographer," said Harris. "They had an eye and a skill and an art to the black and white we were doing. They could grab the essence of the image."
    Another aspect of doing the books, said Harris, is how much communications have changed over the years. Some of that is good, some not.
    Back in those days, postcards were an important aspect of communications. In many instances, it was the only way to communicate.
    The book which is about to be published has many such examples.
    Some of the postcards feature a person writing to tell a loved one they arrived safely during a trip. Others are simply conversations about everything from children to an area fire.
    Page 2 of 2 - For Harris, that kind of communication may be lost.
    Harris says he "sees the productivity" in the modern way of communication, however, "Here's what I don't see. No second thought. It's now, yes, no go."
    He thinks that can be dangerous.
    "Let's pause and think it through. Where is the pondering in today's society?" said Harris. "We were schooled to paint a narrative. We were schooled to make a statement."
    Information from the books was gathered from local residents, which Harris said is crucial.
    "It is of the people," he said.
    Another aspect of the book features "then and now" photos. The old photos are shown and then a new picture is shown taken at approximately the same angle.
    A deadline is now looming for persons to save $10 on pre-ordered books. That deadline is Sept. 28. There is an ad inside of this paper where you can find all of the details about how to order this book.
    Harris said the books will be published and available before Christmas.
    The photos, photo captions and new photography were coordinated by Nicole W. Little of Honesdale for The Wayne Independent.
    "I really enjoyed working on this project. Being fairly new to the area, it was interesting researching the history. I learned so much from the railroads to the Delaware River – it's neat how it's all connected," said Little.
    She sent out a special thanks to KC Garn, Cochecton historian and the Wayne County Historical Society because "they were so accommodating."
    She said her favorite part of the project was the "then and now" section. "Finding the landmarks and trying to recreate the same photo angles was quite an adventure. The landscape has changed – trees grew, new buildings, etc…."
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