It’s a marvelous exhibition combining wonderfully written memoir entries, presented in the spoken voice, along with photographs that capture not only an image, but a spirit. This photo, taken at the opening of the exhibition, is by Jack Rowell of Braintree, VT – the same fellow who captured image and spirit of the Hale Street Gang members.
Meet the Hale Street Gang, twelve senior citizens who gather once a week to read aloud from their memoirs-in-progress. Their clubhouse is the Greater Randolph Senior Center, an elderly mansion in a neighborhood south of the railroad tracks. Together they weave a “collective memoir” of life in twentieth-century America, with the village of Randolph, Vermont as its nexus.
The exhibit shows the work—in photographs, written text, and recorded voices—of a dozen Randolph-area seniors who have been writing down their life stories.
The project originated in October 2008, when the Senior Center offered a six-week memoir writing class. Almost two years later, the twelve members of the Hale Street Gang continued to gather in the Senior Center “craft room” to read aloud what they have written during the week. Most of the writers are in their eighties (the eldest is 99). They write about everything: learning to fish, skate, drive, and kiss. Falling in love. Getting old. They write about their lives as teachers, nurses, farmers, soldiers, and social workers. They write about their memories of World Wars I and II, the “Roaring Twenties,” the Depression. The towns they grew up in, the games they played as children, the regrets they still live with after many decades. They wonder, on paper, how they are supposed to conduct their lives at the age of ninety-something. They are scouting the territory for the next generation.
The exhibition will be at the AVA Gallery, 11 Bank Street, Lebanon, NH through February 10, 2012.