The latest installment of the Images of Modern America series, which catalogues America’s towns through photographs, beautifully explores the rich history of the Winter Park area. History professors Claire Strom and Jim Norris, Sydney Marshall ’15, and Danielle Johnson ’16, the book’s coauthors, provide an inside perspective into Winter Park culture and history.
The photos in the book are drawn from museums, library archives, and private collections—including that of Rita Bornstein, former Rollins president. Save for the first chapter on the origins of Winter Park, the book is organized thematically rather than chronologically, illustrating specific themes of Winter Park life throughout its history.
As a Rollins student, it was extremely interesting to see how traditions in our community have originated, developed, and evolved into the Winter Park we know and love today.
For example, a photograph from the 1950s (p. 14) shows Park Avenue lined with cars, not a parking space in sight (some things never change!). Photos of Lipsync from the 1980s (p. 86) and the Rollins Sailing Club from 1964 (p. 81) illustrate some of the deep traditions that tie Rollins into the Winter Park culture and continue on to the present day.
The authors also highlight Winter Park’s commitment to the flourishing of art and music, as well as the centrality of public awareness and activism in the community here.
The latter is evident in the book’s discussion of events such as celebration on Mill’s Lawn of the first Earth Day (p. 52), a Martin Luther King, Jr., day march (p. 50), and the various protests and campaigns held by Winter Park residents (pp. 54-58).
In addition to the idyllic nostalgia created by the photographs, the captions provided are both informative and entertaining.
One particularly amusing caption below a 1960s-era photograph of students sitting on the hoods of their cars reads, “The dean of women expressed concern about dating in automobiles, writing, ‘The matter of social conduct in cars is an age-old problem’” (p. 72). One can only imagine her response to today’s options of co-ed housing for upperclassmen on campus!
As an accessible, interesting introduction to the history and culture of Winter Park, Images of Modern America: Winter Park showcases a wide range of topics and provides the casual history buff with an indispensible guide to a vibrant cultural history in which Rollins has played no small part.
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