WATERVILLE — Residents who walk into Elm City Photo Service Monday will find themselves face to face with dozens of photos of area veterans, as part of the photography store owner’s effort to honor those from the area who have served.
Elm City Photo Service owner and veteran John Goodine said the images bring more than 100 years of foreign wars home by showing faces from area communities like Madison, Waterville and Winslow preparing to depart, serving in war zones, reuniting with families and living with injuries sustained overseas.
The photos, he said, pay tribute to the local sacrifices made in service of the country.
Goodine said Elm City Photo Service had its origins as a business through photo projects for the military, when during World War II his mother started taking pictures of area residents for them to mail to soldiers along with their letters.
He said developing the photos in her bathtub was a way for his mother to earn extra money while her husband was fighting in the war, and when he returned, they turned it into a formal business.
This time, instead of family members sharing their photos with soldiers, family members are sharing soldiers’ photos with the community, through 24 large print photos hanging in the center wall of the business.
Goodine, 64, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, said the project took off quickly, growing from a casual discussion with his business assistant to receiving more community photo contributions for the project than he could fit on the wall.
He said he is glad the wall has photos of not only familiar war settings like Vietnam or Iraq, but also has pictures of local people in less recognizable settings like the Spanish-American War and serving in Panama.
Goodine said he wanted to collect photos that weren’t posed portraits, but were preferably candid and with background to build context.
“A lot of people don’t think about what it’s like to live in the field,” he said, pointing to a photo taken of a soldier in Vietnam with a helicopter landing in the background.
Goodine said the store will be open today for Veterans Day for people to mingle and see the display. He said the collection will continue to be displayed after Veterans day, and he said in the week that it has been displayed, it already served as a way to have community conversations about veterans and ongoing wars.
For example, he pointed to two photos of veterans in wheelchairs: a black and white photo from World War II and a recent one of a decorated Afghanistan veteran.
“It’s probably the part we don’t like to think about,” he said. “But it’s important that people see photos like this and reflect on that.”
State Rep. Tom Longstaff, D-Waterville, said his family contributed a picture of his son, David Longstaff, from when he was serving in Iraq.
Longstaff, who formerly served with in the U.S. Marine Corps, said he thinks the collection is a meaningful way to honor area veterans.
“I particularly appreciate that these are pictures of veterans with local connections. You know who they are; they’re not just pictures,” Longstaff said.
Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 [email protected]