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Hercules Brown and His Family at Supper, Somerville, Maine, 1944

In 1944, Roy Stryker sent Parks on an assignment for the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey into the frigid Maine winter and the town of Somerville, with a population of under one thousand residents. There Parks met Hercules Brown, a quintessential New Englander of the era. Brown had been selling for Standard Oil at his general store for 20 years while also acting as the town’s postmaster and snowplow driver. In a series of intimate photographs, Parks showed Brown in his dimly lit shop with friends and customers, and at home on his hardscrabble farm, eating meals and doing chores with his large family (including two daughters who worked in a local factory making shoes for the armed forces). The series is suffused with a sense of cold and calm, befitting the conditions of Somerville.