Monday, July 26, 2010
Los Angeles After the War
I've written enough about my distress when dealers break up photo albums, that I'm happy to finally put up one of the albums I own, complete. It's a small collection. While the album itself has around fifty or so pages, these few pictures were placed on only five of those pages. (The album owner used photo corners. A few of them are missing and have left small, triangular bits of crystallized glue behind, that are not to be found on any of the blank pages, which has led to my conclusion that the owner of this album gave up adding new images.) One of the things I've always found fascinating about old American photographs is the documentation of movement; the movement from one part of the country to another. One of the things my father told me was that the depression and World war 2 were good for the United States because it forced people to uproot and move on from their established lives. My father had to drop out of the tenth grade, he went on the road, worked for both the C.C.C. and the W.P.A. and then ended up spending four years in Europe during, and right after the war. I found this album in Rosamond, California, and at first thought that it must have been owned by one of the families that went to the high desert as support workers for Muroc, latter Edwards Air Force Base, but on closer examination I realized that the ridge line seen in the background runs from just north of downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena. For Anglenos, think Mt. Washington. More than likely, these images were taken in Glassell Park, a real estate development aimed towards defense workers. A lot of those old houses are still there, and with a bit of work, I could probably find this street. Of course, Los Angeles is the city that it is, because of twentieth century population shifts. The depression saw the uprooting of people from the great plains, Texas, Oklahoma, the Ozarks, and lots of them headed for southern and central California. And then the war, and the growth of the defence industry, especially aircraft in the L.A. area, brought even more people west, looking for high paid jobs. Since these photos are held in the album with photo corners and are not glued to the pages, I have been able to, carefully, remove them and then replace them back in the album. A few of the pictures have hand written captions on the back. The first picture of the older man in overalls being embraced by the woman in slacks, "Feb-9-1946 Quite a paunch you have there pop." The younger man and woman wearing a skirt, holding a plant in her hands, "Feb-9-1946. Smile Mac, it's not." The older man in overalls, with his arm on the older woman's shoulder, "The couple." Mac, standing alone, cigarette in hand, "Feb-9-1946 Look at the birdiee please." The two younger women standing side by side, "A Blonde & A Brunette OH OH!" The woman laying on the ground, "Feb-9-1946 Uh Uh! What a form!?" Mac, his arm around the waist of the woman in the cowboy hat and boots, "Hold on tight so IT won't Blow Away. (The hat of course.)" 1946 was a good year. The soldiers were back, the economy was booming, and everyone had a job.