First Things

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Memories Of A Former Kid
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In 1931, when Ronald Lovelock fired up his
camera, it was undoubtedly for his own enjoyment. Today, the
resulting photographs provide a unique glimpse into a way of life
irretrievably lost.

Born and raised on an Illinois farm, Lovelock opted for a career
as a railroad engineer. But as a young man in his mid-20s, he was
the proud owner of both an Avery steamer and a camera, and he was
passionate about each.

Unlike many amateur photographers, Lovelock had a very clear
idea of the story he wanted his photographs to tell. Rather than
shoot a steam engine standing still and alone, he focused on the
Avery at work, fully manned and gushing clouds of smoke. His
photographs do more than document the steamer’s existence: They
show how the Avery was used on the farm.

In the photographs published on pages 40-43 of this issue of
Farm Collector, Lovelock seems determined to capture a
moment in time. Perhaps he grew up hearing tales at his father’s
knee, and understood how quickly things were changing. Did he
realize that his prized Avery would soon go the way of dinosaurs?
We’ll never know what, exactly, influenced his style. But we do
know that his instincts were on the mark. He worked as methodically
as a professional photographer, generating a carefully composed
scene showing preparations to blast trees … a casual but
instructive shot of men harvesting ice … a Depression-era
auction.

And while many amateur photographers of his era presented people
as if readying them for a firing squad, Lovelock’s subjects never
rest. They’re sawing ice, augering blasting powder, laying tile,
husking corn, building shocks. Look at their faces: They had great
affection for the man behind the camera. They wave; they ham it up,
they relax.

Lovelock’s photographs tell stories, to be sure, but they also
advise. They tell us to capture not just the smiling face of the
new graduate, but the scene on campus that day. Take a shot of the
baby, but also the nursery, the first home, the town. Take pictures
of people working in the farm shop, the crew at the Co-op, the line
of grain trucks, the little league dugout, the back-stage frenzy on
dance recital night. Those are the times of our lives, and someday,
those images will help another generation understand what it meant
to live today.

Leslie McManus, Editor
lmcmanus@ogdenpubs.com

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment