I accompanied a friend, John Fasulo, on his quest to locate three subjects of a photograph he had taken some thirty-six years ago in Canaan, Connecticut. The image was taken around 1974 of three boys playing on a caboose outside the Canaan Railroad Station. The photograph reaffirms the art of discovery and the innocents of youth. So does the search.
John’s photograph can’t help but bring back memories of a simpler time when milk was delivered in bottles and children could still play tag in their neighborhood at dusk. Heck in some towns the milkman had a key to the back door and put it in the refrigerator for the owners. Ours just opened a small door that could be reached from a kitchen cupboard.
John’s research led to the local insurance agent who in his youth had played on the wooden deck of the rail station and had scampered the height of the water tower. It’s what kids do in a small town. He knew instantly that the photograph was of two brothers and their best friend that were a year or so older than he. This was later confirmed by his wife and a few more relatives.
We slid into one of the six booths at the Collin’s Diner across from the old rail depot where a small sign under the window noted that if busy, you would be asked to move to one of the 17 vacant stools at the counter, saving the booths for a party of four.
“Go ahead and just push the seat back! No, use your rear and push the seat back if you need more room!” I blanked out…Mom? But peeking through one eye, it was the waitress giving me a realty check with that same impish smile that likely dated back to the diners opening day.
The 1941 national historic landmark diner has been the subject of articles in Yankee Magazine, New York Times and the, Boston Globe. It was picture perfect in realist painter Ralph Goings work “Collin’s Diner”.
“That looks like John Marshall, brothers, Chris and Peter Clark. Peter lives just up the road and you take the road that drops down to the right” said the waitress reaching for the photograph.
“There use to be an old still up there. It’s where I took my first drink. It was grappa” reminisced the older woman at the counter.
At a time when age, experience, craftsmanship seem to have little worth in today’s workplace. It feels good to know after three decades John found his kids and seven decades later the Collin’s still offers the same bacon, cheeseburger, fries, coke; a place for the locals to think about the simpler times. Just a place where they remember your name.