It happened over 50 years ago yet the images remain clear in my mind’s eye. It was during my military service. I had just completed basic training at Ft. Gordon in Atlanta, Georgia and was on my way by train to my next duty station in Baltimore, Maryland. The trip took about two days as I remember. A very slow moving train through mostly the backyards of the people living in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. If you truly want to understand rural America take a train ride. Do not go by automobile as you will only see what the towns want you to see. I think that the song “City of New Orleans” by Arlo Guthrie comes closest to the mark. Pay attention to the lyrics. “…graveyards of the rusted automobiles”. “Freight yards full of old, black men.” Throw in the assorted junk in backyards and the clotheslines and you have a pretty good idea of what I witnessed. Poverty, plain and simple. I must have left Augusta on April 2, 1968 if the trip took two days, as I arrived in Baltimore on the same day of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tough day. The toughest. “Small Town, U. S. A. c.1949” was the typical sight as my train rolled through one town after another. Note the building signs: Furnished Rooms, Dr. Pepper and Plaza Grill. You can’t see this from driving through on Main Street.
And so it has come to pass, the eruption of the volcano, Cumbre Vieja, on La Palma. Lava continues to flow and there are earthquakes. Follow here for latest updates. The question on everyone’s mind is will the long feared tsunami actually occur? Not much we can do about it except give some warning time if the worst happens. This photo shows a peaceful La Palma c.1900. Cumbre Vieja is seen in the distance to the right.
A look at the struggle of Egyptian cotton workers during the Great Depression. The sack of cotton weighed 120 lbs. Workers were paid the equivalent of 10 cents/day. In today’s economy it does not sound like a living wage, but during the Great Depression salaries in the U.S. were only a few dollars/day. In that sense it was probably just a living wage for these cotton workers.
Perhaps the ultimate in prisons except for Devil’s Island in what used to be French Guiana was “Château d’If” off the coast of Marseille, France. Prisoners were arranged by class with the poorest sent to the dungeons. Immortalized by Alexandre Dumas in his novel The Count of Monte Cristo concerning the imprisonment of Edmond Dantès. The prison, now a museum, is seen here in 1956. Clearly, Alcatraz was patterned after Château d’If.
The Watergate hotel as it appeared shortly following the scandal. Once a noun that became an adjective. Today the term can be used as a verb. A symbol of political intrigue.
“Watergate“; Washington, D. C. (October 23, 1973)