Local News

Images of Another World, Another Time

Posted May 1, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— A Durham man has found a window on another world, another time. It's all because of some very special photographs found at his home.

"Reise Erinnerungen" is stamped across a large photo album.

"That means trip remembrances," Richard Hamaker explains.

Not too long ago, the 75-year-old Hamaker went digging through some boxes in his Durham home. There he found the album and its memories.

"There are lots and lots of stories connected with all of this," he says as he sifts through the various photos.

The retired IBM mechanical engineer discovered 150 color photographs that offer a glimpse of how much life has changed since the last turn of the century.

"This is one of my favorite pictures," he says, showing a view of a Swiss lake.

His father John Hamaker, then a biology professor at Trinity College, now known as Duke University, bought the photos during a three-month bicycle trip across Europe in 1901.

The pictures show the lakes and castles of turn-of-the-century Switzerland, as well as Munich -- long before it was bombed into rubble during World War II.

The beauty of Europe's cities and rural areas shines through. The photochrome pictures look primitive today, almost like paintings. But at the time, they represented the birth of a new technology and a fresh new century.

"Notice the people in horse carriages here -- and the long dresses the women wore."

Hamaker bridged the gap of history by scanning the images into his computer.

"When I stop to think about it, the advancement in technology over the last 100 years is mind boggling," he said.

"On July 20th, he left Geneva at 9 a.m. and found a very hot and hilly road."

Hamaker now leafs through his father's diary from that 1901 trip. He reads about places he, too, has since explored.

"The pictures mean so much more when you've actually seen it," Hamaker says.

He understands where he got his love of travel and his sense of adventure and discovery. And nearly 100 years removed from his dad's journey, Richard Hamaker discovers a legacy it has taken a lifetime to truly appreciate.

"As I look back on it, I remember all these great things he did for me, which I didn't really understand at the time."

"They say a picture is worth a thousand words," Hamaker continued. "These days it's worth a hell of a lot more than a thousand words!"

Hamaker has left for yet another trip, retracing some of his father's footsteps in Europe.

And he has plans to sell copies of the old photos as postcards.