Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cracker Jack, Child Psychology and Hazmat Suits


I never realized just how many years I kicked around this patch of ground until I stitched together this panorama of hand held shots from Community Field in Berlin, NH. I played baseball on these fields from the time I was six years old right up through high school. The zenith of my baseball star was here as a pitcher for the mighty Little League Giants. The field next to this one is a full size diamond and the right field line is only two lanes of road away from thousands of gallons of caustic chemicals in the paper mill's pulp operation.

Making this picture, I also realized that this field is always under the watchful eye of St. Anne (left side of the picture). The size of this photo doesn't show it, but the tower on the right side of St. Anne's church actually has a statue of St. Anne looking right toward the field. Click the image for something a little bigger. I certainly knew I was in the cradle of my home town when I played on these fields. The Brown Company paper mill was omnipresent. As a local, the smell of the working mill never bothered me. Only later did I appreciate the mill worker phrase "that's the smell of money". Teams from out of town hated it and subjected us to all sorts of ridicule. Today,the smell is gone and so is the mill, mostly torn down. The same story as the rest of industrial America.

The great thing about any image is how it speaks to the individual. When I looked through the viewfinder to shoot these photos, I just thought I'd test out a panorama shot for something to do. The sky looked kind of cool and I was hoping for the best without a tripod. The completed image was initially disappointing because the pano didn't stitch perfectly and I was going to lose parts of the image if I cropped it. But, I came to see the influences from my life captured here and identified with the picture in ways I didn't think I could. Growing up in a mill town, French-Canadian culture, Catholicism, playing sports, good friends, feared bullies, my Father's occupation, my middle school up on the hill. It's all boiled down right here in this image. There is good and bad in this picture for me, but mostly good. I hope my son can get some of this kind of good. I also hope he won't be playing Little League on a field near a Super Fund site.
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