Bucket Week - Day Five

Archive finds - Pawtucket in the '90s

This week in honor of the city of my residence and my daughter's home town, I will be featuring Pawtucket, Rhode Island, aka the 'Bucket'.

Gas Holder and Apartments, Pawtucket, 1992.

This picture from 1992 has always been among my personal favorites. I was very new to Rhode Island, hadn't even found a job yet and I was living with my girlfriend on Hope street. She had a job in Pawtucket and i would drive her there in the morning and pick her up in the afternoon. I didn't know anything about Pawtucket. I knew one way to get to her workplace. I would go up Hope street, pass my favorite intersection of Ridge and Pidge, pass the Almacs where we shopped. Before the days of wayfinding tools and geolocational support you could get lost. These things are great aids to personal navigation but the feeling of being lost and stumbling upon some place new and unexpected can be a great stimulant for a photographer. I think that always knowing exactly where I am with the help of an app is not the most conducive state of mind if I wish to be receptive to a new place. Confusion and mystery are great motivators. Curiosity is king.

On this day I wasn't entirely lost, but I was exploring. On my way up Hope street there was a little sign shortly after Hope became East Ave. that said 'downtown' with an arrow pointing right. So poor then was my notion of the relationship between spaces I wasn't totally sure what downtown this was. Was there more of Pawtucket that I hadn't seen yet? Did this circle around somehow to downtown Providence? I went right and then down a steep hill.

I came upon two of those great giant trash can like structures that were used to hold natural gas. These things have intrigued me since childhood and these two seemed to be sitting right within a residential neighborhood. On Taft street (was there a Pawtucket connection to our largest President?) I saw the gasometers looming over a house and a row of apartments which sat glowing in the afternoon light. I found my spot, planted the tripod and rushed to focus, afraid somehow that something with fly away. It can be really hard sometimes to slow down and take a good look at the groundglass image. I wanted that truck, I wanted that child's bike on the right, I didn't want the shadows to climb much higher. Quick with the film holder, exposure, flip, exposure and that was that. Couldn't afford to shoot more film but I knew I didn't need to.

I didn't find my way to 'downtown' that afternoon but i'd forgotten that anyway.


Andrew Wertz found this on Shorpy. A Kodachrome from 1941.

Jack Delano, New Bedford, Ma, 1941