This week’s Throwback Thursday is a tribute to the children of Fort Pond Bay Village. The Bay was their frontage and the train tracks their backyard boundary. Nothing, however, could restrict these kids from exploring the larger world around them.
This image from around 1938 comes from the Pitts-Burke-Cullum collection, a large group of photographic material that happens to be filled with many pictures of children. The collection was donated by Dell Cullum; his mother, Emily Cullum, who passed away last week at age 93, inherited these photographs from her mother, Vangy Pitts Burke.
Vangy won a camera at a very early age. As a result, she and her brother Vitus began shooting friends, family, cousins, favorite pets and toys, so that well before 1920 they had created a photographic portfolio documenting every-day life in Montauk. It’s remarkable that this mini-archive sitting within the Pitts-Burke-Cullum collection was photographed by children.
Emily Cullum recognized the value of this visual inheritance and painstakingly identified all or most of the sitters in literally hundreds of photographs. (Her mother, Vangy, had continued to take pictures of her own children and passed on a passion for photography to future generations.)
In today’s TBT photograph, Emily is the young girl sticking out her tongue. Next to her, making the face, is Fran McDonald Ecker, her cousin and lifelong friend who died a few years ago. For some reason, this image of the two besties recalls the photo booth picture-snapping that was so moving in the film Beaches.
Here are the identities of the whole gang, starting from the upper left: Marie Pitts, Margaret Rawson, Pat McDonald, Eva McDonald, Buddy Burke, Celina McDonald, Frances McDonald, Emily Burke, Vincent McDonald, Marian Sayre.
Rest in peace, Emily Cullum. Thanks for treasuring these photographs. Your hard work added great value, and gave them life.
This photograph is copyrighted by the Montauk Library and Dell Cullum. All rights reserved. No reposting or republishing without permission.