In the 1950s, the phrase “Sunday’s best” meant something quite different than it does today. On Easter Sunday, families from all walks of life would dust off their best and most extravagant dresses, hats, and suits in celebration of the holiday — and in New York City, the Easter Day parade was a place for all of these bold and colorful fashions to hit the street for all to see.
While the popularity of some holiday traditions may be slowly fading into history, one amateur archivist with a passion for collecting vintage film has discovered a treasure trove of pictures that show in stunning color what this incredible event looked like in 1953. Michael W. Gorth, who in his spare time runs a Facebook page titled Vintage Kodachrome Slides, recently discovered a previously unseen collection of amateur photographs taken on the streets of New York City during its annual Easter celebration.
Here, Gorth shares with BuzzFeed News a collection of pictures from his archive, now represented by Lost Colour Library, and shares his passion for collecting these priceless windows into history.
I first got into collecting when I came across a set of slides at a thrift store that were of a person in the military around 1953. The slides were amazing — it was incredible to see the cars, cities, people, and clothing from another time. It made me feel like I was actually there, transported to another time.
I gradually discovered more slides at flea markets — pictures of journeys to California, New York, Paris, and Europe. I was finding amazing images of just everyday life, families at home, children playing in the yard with friends on bikes. It was amazing to see so many hidden treasures on old slides.
Now granted, I’ve bought slides and there was nothing interesting on them. I’d say out of every 100 slides that I uncover, I’ll find 10 that are a shots that I’d save. But in the end, nothing is more fun than to buy a set of unseen slides and to comb through each one to find that great shot.
That’s how it happened with the Easter slides. I purchased the set off eBay, sight unseen. The seller said they had no viewer to see what the slides were. When I received the slides, I discovered one box that said “Easter Parade 1953.” When I looked at the first one I was amazed at the people and the fashion of that day. To see so many people dressed up — it was amazing! That’s when I knew I hit on something good.
It was then that I started my Facebook page Vintage Kodachrome Slides, as a way to show my collection to family and friends, but the page has continued to grow in followers since 2016. I’ve met so many people this way — people who have so much more information for a picture than I could have thought of.
As for what keeps me collecting, it’s being able to see something through someone else’s eyes at that exact moment frozen in time. And with the Kodachrome, it’s like the photo was taken yesterday. Each picture is clear, colorful, and they never fail. Being able to witness the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s in color blows me away every time, especially since these were eras where the majority of people were making pictures in black and white. It’s just a magical feeling.