Whipped Hair and Kerouac : A Year In Lowell, Massachusetts (1987 – 1988)

These photographs of an American city reflect the dream of a country bound by daring, freedom and energy

Graffiti 1980s Lowell Massachusetts

 

This post begins with a look back to September 1, 1987. That’s when the teenagers above were skateboarding in Merrimack St. parking lot, Lowell, Massachusetts. Who were they then and where are they now?

Further down you’ll see older faces set beneath thatches of whipped hair hanging out at Central Plaza. Car windscreens are decorated with marque-loyal sun visors. Tyres are fat. Whitesnake are on the tape deck. Life is loud, in your face, free from cynicism and driven by the pursuit of straight-talking fun and fulfilment.

Ethnicity is a theme. Those of Greek heritage are supporting Mike Dukasis’s bid for the presidency and dancing in Hellenic school. The Puerto Ricans are on a parade. Cambodian newlyweds Sopheap and Pen are at her mother’s house. Pen’s lighting a cigarette her husband holds clenched between his lips. They look happy. The Portuguese are dancing to Fado music at the IV Seasons Restaurant. The Franco-Americans are playing cards and remembering. Jack Kerouac’s old house is a local tourist attraction. Jesus is celebrated in church and street displays. Everywhere is music, food and big hair.

The pictures were taken for the Lowell Folklife Project, conducted in 1987-1988 as a cooperative project of the American Folklife Center and the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission, with support from the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities. They show us the everyday.

 

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Central Plaza, Lowell, Massachusetts by John Lueders-Booth – September 5, 1987

 

Graffiti 1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Cosmopolitan Market, 491 Market St., Lowell, Massachusetts

Graffiti 1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Carnaval celebration, St. Anthony Parish Hall, Lowell, Massachusetts

Graffiti 1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Jerry’s Shu-Tap, 319 Westford St., Lowell, Massachusetts.

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

West End Gym, Middlesex St., Lowell, Massachusetts

Graffiti 1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Wang Laboratories Assembly Plant, Pawtucket Blvd., Lowell, Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Jack Kerouac’s birthplace, 9 Lupine St., Lowell, Massachusetts

 

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Paylin Market, 6 Branch St., Lowell, Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Puerto Rican Festival parade, Lowell, Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

George Hapsis coffee house, “The New Democratic Club” on Broadway in the Acre, Lowell, Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Wedding of Sopheap Kuth and Pen Hing at the home of Pen Hing’s mother, Mrs. Chounn Chen, Lowell, Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Hellenic American School, Lowell, Massachusetts . Date: 1987-12-09

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Graffiti 1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Graffiti

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Fado musicians, IV Seasons Restaurant, Lowell, Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Central Plaza, Lowell, Massachusetts – September 5, 1987

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Ray Gagnon, of Ray’s Flies, in his fly-tying shop, located at 12 1/2 Third Ave., Lowell, Massachusetts

Graffiti 1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Carnaval celebration, Holy Ghost Society, Lowell, Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Franco-American picnic, Westford, Massachusetts – August 22, 1987

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

West End Gym, Middlesex St., Lowell, Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Graffiti 1980s Lowell Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Puerto Rican Festival, Lowell, Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Franco-American band at Leo Dufresne’s home, Dracut, Massachusetts

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Battambang Market, Merrimack St., Lowell, Massachusetts

 

1980s Lowell Massachusetts

Via: Library of Congress