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April 7, 2010 > Past Times

Past Times

Highlights from the Photography Collection

Submitted By Heather Mellon
Photos By courtesy of the Hayward Area Historical Society

This spring's exhibition at the Downtown Museum, Past Times: Highlights from the Photography Collection, answers the question "What did Hayward area residents do for fun in the past?" An extensive mining operation into the photography collection revealed some answers. There is an old saying, "All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy." The historic photographs selected for the exhibition prove that Hayward area residents played a lot and were definitely never dull!

The beautiful weather, diverse population, and central location in the greater metropolitan area meant that people living here spent their leisure time participating in a wide variety of activities. Some people went for a swim at the Plunge. Others preferred to explore their creative side painting a scene on canvas. Many residents spent their free time walking in the annual rodeo parade. Other residents joined the Lions Club and helped raise money for charitable causes. People of all ages enjoyed a nice day in the park.

The Historical Society's photo collection is fairly extensive and representative of the evolution of photography from ambrotypes to digital photos. The earliest photo in the exhibition dates from the late 1880s, while the most contemporary image dates from the 1980s. The vast majority of the roughly 25,000 negatives, prints, and slides in the collection cover the years between 1940 and 1960, the period of the greatest growth in the area's development, and explains why most of the photos included in the exhibit are from this period.

The photos provide a unique window into the past. They give us a feel for what life was like by capturing a moment in time. Historic photos present a challenge because often there is very little identification included with the image. With careful research, though, great stories from the past emerge. A more complete story can be told with some of the images selected for Past Times, while other images simply convey a sense of fun. Together, a story of leisure activities appears.

The choices for spending free time were not unlike how we spend our leisure time today, only without all the electronics. The photos illustrate that members of this community in past times really knew how to have a good time with their pastimes!

Past Times: Highlights from the Photography Collection
April 8 - June 1
Tuesday - Saturday
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Hayward Area Historical Society - Downtown Museum
22701 Main Street, Hayward
(510) 581-0223


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