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Then and Now; photos of Perry past and present.

Small print of Decker's Ice Cream 1952-1957

Deckers Confectionary, mid-1950s

This photo of Decker’s ice cream shop is what initially captivated me. For whatever reason, this photo in particular, from the Clark Rice Collection, served as the inspiration for my project. As I studied the picture, I found myself confronted with a strange sense of sadness. This photo seemed to be a snapshot of loss. Deckers had long been gone, yet here I was staring at the shop in the midst of success. I began to wonder what stood in its location today. This became the driving force of my project. I decided to visit Perry and try to find the actual locations of a few select photos of Perry’s past, and take new photos of those same locations today. Going into this project I was very curious regarding what I would find. I myself live in Wayland NY, a distant neighbor of Perry, and I wondered how similar Perry today would be compared to my home town. With these considerations in mind I set out to Perry to take some photos.

I worked with the photos in the Clark Rice Photography Collection and I visited several locations in Perry which had been included in the collection. The first stop I made was at the Perry Town Hall. This was the easiest location to find as the town had made the decision to maintain the integrity of the original building, the town bank. This is self-evident when the two photos are viewed side by side. After stopping at the Town hall, just a little further down Main Street was the next location I was looking for, a bookstore/cafe called the Biblio-Tech Cafe. This used to be the Royce and Wright department store, which sold Nitey Nite sleepwear from the PK. I had an easy time figuring out the location of where the department store was because, thankfully, there was an address included on the Clark Rice photo. Although the original photo was taken in the upstairs of the Royce and Wright Department store, I was only able to access the downstairs which is what I got a photo of.

Perry Knitting Co. Lunchtime

For this reason I conclude with the picture shown here: workers of the Perry Knitting Company sitting down to lunch, probably during the 1910s-20s. I think that it captures the sentiment of resilience and permanence that I am trying to express. Just as the people in the photo worked, raised families, and supported the community, there are people today doing the same. As time passes, it is important that we don't waste our time pining for the past. Nostalgia can be powerful, and as time progresses and problems arise it is all too easy to convince ourselves that the glory days are over. In the past Perry was sustained by its people. Today, the town of Perry and its businesses are sustained by the people. People are the heart of Perry and its history.

Note: My thanks to Sarah Ballinger, Perry Town Clerk, for a map and her suggestions.