[Author's note: this post is an excerpt from The Gentlemen of Gloucester, a book available here on Amazon.]
In 1963 and 1964, Anwar Kemal studied in Philadelphia as a recipient of the Troop's Boyer Scholarship.
A native of Pakistan, Kemal arrived in the United States at a special moment in history, at the peak of Pax Americana, before the country got fully embroiled in Vietnam. When he returned home, he became a diplomat in Pakistan, helped by his experiences and connections with the First City Troop.
Last year Kemal discovered an undeveloped roll of color film from his time in Pennsylvania, and was able to develop all the photos. These fresh prints—almost eerie in their newness—capture daily life in suburban Philadelphia at that time.
The images show that, although it’s easy for current generations to view the 1960s through a lens preoccupied with hippie counterculture, free love, and Woodstock, many of the young “baby boomers” who joined the Troop in that decade reflected another aspect of America then.
In his book Past Imperfect, Julian Fellowes likened the era to a Janus head, facing both ways into the past and future. Large segments of society still looked back to the 1950s, with behavior based on much older patterns, when girls wouldn’t kiss on the first date, boys weren’t fully dressed without a necktie, and mothers wore hats and gloves when they left the house. Contemporary photographs and snapshots of Troopers demonstrate that they fell into the latter category.