I HAVE BEEN working in the past of late. The Union Leader, in cooperation with the Manchester Historic Association and with reader contributions, is in the process of preparing for publication “Manchester Memories II.” It is a photo book due out late this year and featuring sights, scenes, and faces of the Queen City from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.
People who grew up around here will recognize familiar places and faces. People who came from elsewhere will, I think, have a lot of fun seeing what life looked like in Manchester back then, and trying to compare scenes, shops, and street corners from today with those of 50 and 60 years ago.
I wasn’t around in the 1940s, and being a Candia kid, I wasn’t all that familiar with what, for me, was the “big city” until much later.
But going through photos and captions brought up a lot of memories. I’m sure many people who see the final product will find a lot of memories for themselves.
I particularly liked a photo from the 1940s of altar boys posing on the steps of St. Joseph Cathedral. Each is identified by name and I recognized two. There, in the front row, is one Kevin Cash. He became a reporter for the Union Leader but was better known as the author of a notorious book called “Who the Hell is William Loeb?’’ about the paper’s then-publisher.
Also in the photo is Donn Tibbetts, who had a distinguished reporting career, first on WGIR-AM and then for the paper. Both Cash and Tibbetts needed only to look a bit to their left down the hill from the church and they could spot the 35 Amherst St. building that housed the paper in those days.
Other photos from the ’40s include several of the city’s 1946 centennial parade. Parades were a lot bigger back in the day and this one seemed to have more oomph and pride than most, possibly because World War II had just concluded.
There are photos of school graduating classes, boys and girls looking proper and well-dressed. (Which reminds me that our current photographers did a great job with recent city proms and graduations. Their work is on display at UnionLeader.com, under Photos.)
For the book, there are shots of Dorrs Pond skaters in winter, of a basketball game at the Armory on Canal Street, and one of Central High kids swarming outside during a 1950s bomb scare.
Elm Street comes to life in all three decades, with shoppers, more parades, and traffic scenes.
A doctor treats a patient. Both are smoking cigarettes.
Politicians include the legendary and lyrically named Mayor Josephat T. Benoit (that’s ben-wah, not ben-oyt), Gov. John King putting a King bumper sticker on his car, and two guys named Nixon and Kennedy who were apparently in Manchester in 1960 for some reason.
It is only June. The book won’t be out until December but that interval will go by in the blink of an eye. You can pre-order online, at a discounted rate, at UnionLeader.com/memories.
Write to Joe McQuaid at Publisher@unionleader.com or on Twitter at @Deucecrew