Lynn English High School graduates, 1929

I found this set of inscribed photos of the classmates of Bessie Burke in an antique store, and was compelled to rescue it intact. I've spent a year thinking it through and deciding how to array it for possible analysis, thinking about the stories contained within, and wondering what we can/could/might learn from the set. What were the conditions of their lives? Born 1911-1912, adolescents in the Roaring 20s, new graduates on the eve of the Depression, in their 30s during WWII, retirement age in the late 1970s... We see them below with their adult lives ahead of them, on the brink. Some suffered tragedies, some surely had happy lives, some endured horrors in childhood or as grownups, and one (Concetta Rando) may be still alive in 2017.

They lived in Lynn, a rather gritty northern suburb of Boston, once a city of shoe factories and immigrant workers (French Canadian, Irish, Polish, Italian, Greek), site of a large General Electric plant, and (according to Wikipedia) "long colloquially referred to as the 'City of Sin,' owing to its historic reputation for crime and vice."

Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin,
you'll never come out the way you went in,
what looks like gold is really tin,
the girls say 'no' but they'll give in,
Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin.

Lynn is home to Durkee-Mower, makers of Marshmallow Fluff.

This is probably Bessie Burke herself:

Bessie Burke herself

Bessie's classmates (whose names are inscribed on the backs of the photos) command our attention and consideration, one by one:

Eleanor Castle Eleanor Castle 1927

Anne B

Ed Thomas

Eleanor Bisbee

Agnes Barry
(died 1997, Wife of the late William J. "Bud" Manning Jr.)

Raymond Leach

Edna LeBlanc


Helen Ferabing

Hilda Alessandro

Ruth Burt

Alice Caldwell

Maurice Medros

Charlie Dullea

Eleanor Burk

Elizabeth Baker

Margaret O'Brien

Alida Du Pont

Henry Jewel

Norman Barbeau

Ida Bluois

Annette Auger

Concetta Rando
(Concetta was still alive, at 105, in 2016)

Harold Beale

Louise Keith


Helen McDormand

Madeline Ratican

Ruth Beede

Charles Comenas

Alma Crosscup

Ruth Johnson

Louise Birmingham

Florence Olsen

Earl Turnbull

Esther Brown

Bob McLaughlin


Roseda Byrd

Maude Applebee

Joe B

Clifford Dow

Howard Dow

Irene Antoline

Gertrude Breen

Ned Gale

Ruth Burke

Gladys Glowarka

Mary Adams

Marion Bowman

Grace Gunning

Stasia Turkowski

Victoria Baluhonie

Amelia Petkewich

Pauline Petkewich

Mil Draper

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