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Paul Seymour was going through old files in the Cinnaminson Police Department basement when he discovered a treasure trove – a box containing about 15,000 negatives of long-lost pictures from the 1940s through 1976.

“Years ago, we actually had a dark room in the police station so officers would print out what they wanted for the case files and then file the negatives away,” says Seymour, an avid photographer who retired from the force last year. Already wanting to create a photo gallery in the station, he was now flush with options.

 

cinnaminson police department

 

“Keep in mind, most of these pictures were taken for a purpose that wasn’t artistic,” he says. “If I had a picture of a police car, it was probably because somebody hit it.”

He spent eight hours reconstructing his favorite, a picture where the whole front of the police car was smashed in. “I didn’t want to have 25 pictures on the wall all of banged up police cars,” he says. “So I looked for ones that had a little more artistic appeal.”

Many illustrate what life was like back then – the cars, businesses and what people wore. He even found photos of weddings and other events taken by an officer who did photography on the side. Seymour now lives in Alexandria, Va., but he continues to sift through the negatives, posting the photos to the Cinnaminson Time Machine Facebook page.

 

cinnaminson police department

 

The lost pictures were an especially fortunate find for Thomas Lillagore Jr., the detective who was working on a project to memorialize the department’s retired police officers with laser plaques in the station’s lobby. His father, who had retired from the department as a detective sergeant in 1998 and has since passed away, had begun the process, but he was missing photos of about a dozen officers.

“We had a few officers that are deceased and had no family members, so getting a picture was like finding a needle in a haystack,” says Lillagore, Cinnaminson detective. Now, every retired officer is memorialized with a photo.

Beyond pictures of Lillagore with his father, his favorite showed an officer directing traffic at Route 130 and Riverton Road. “It’s got a gas station with gas ridiculously cheap – 25 cents a gallon,” he says. “You see the guy directing traffic with a whistle in his mouth. It’s something Norman Rockwell would paint.”

 

 

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