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Ridgeway Wobegon

"Men's Race", Late 1930's, Ridgeway, Iowa, Everett "Scoop" Kuntz
“Men’s Race”, Late 1930’s, Ridgeway, Iowa, Everett “Scoop” Kuntz

Great article in The New York Times this morning about Everett “Scoop” Kuntz. As a teenager in the late 1930’s he acquired a 35mm Argus AF camera and began to document the life around him.  Ridgeway is a small farming community, population 300 (then and now.)  Scoop could not afford to have any of the images printed so he stored the negatives in a box and forgot about them until 60 years later.  Scoop passed away in 2003 but the images brought him some solace as he fought cancer during his last years.

Now the University of Iowa Press has published the photos as the book, “Sunday Afternoon on the Porch:  Reflections of a Small Town in Iowa, 1939-1942.”  The New York Times has a photo gallery in addition to the article.

It’s obviously interesting as a document of a small town some seventy years ago but it’s also interesting in light of the switch to digital.  One wonders if then was now and Scoop had made his images digitally would they still be around to find, in a box in the basement, seventy years later?  Would they be on a disc or a memory card?  Would it be clear what was there?  Would there be some way to retrieve and read the images or would storage or file formats have moved on many generations rendering the images irretrievable?