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The “Best” of the Old School Pics
FWR digs through the archives
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
The Fort Wayne Reader has been running the “Old School Picture of the Week” since issue #50. Randy Harter took over writing the captions and supplying the pictures for the feature about a year ago — Harter knows Fort Wayne history far better than Your Humble, so readers can actually learn something about the images they’re looking at, and he also has an extensive collection of images — but before that, there were over 200 issues worth of “OSP”s, the majority of the pics courtesy of the good folks at the Allen County Public Library. We re-ran some of the more interesting images every now and then, but not all that much.
Over the years, the “Old School Pic” has probably been the most consistently commented on feature in the paper; when we run a photo of a bustling downtown street from the 40s, 50s, or 60s, We’ll usually get a handful of comments or a call or an e-mail.
But here’s the interesting thing: while it might not be really surprising to hear that many of these comments come from long-time residents of the Fort Wayne area — people who were old enough to, for example, shop at Wolf & Dessauer in its heyday — we also hear from a lot of younger people, people to whom the 1950s or the 60s or the 70s might as well be another planet.
Our theory is that images of a bustling, lively downtown Fort Wayne with shops and businesses and pedestrians and (sometimes) trolley cars represents that vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtown we’re all so keen as mustard to have now — we had it before; we could, maybe, have it, or something like it, again.
That’s our theory, at least. We haven’t tested it. But for this issue, we went through the archives and found some OSPs that grabbed our attention. We could have easily found half-a-dozen other photos that are probably just as compelling.