Hitchhiker? Maybe. “Bound For Jackson (Mississippi)“; Mississippi (April 1955). Reminds us of the song “Jackson” sung by Johnny Cash and June Carter (1967). “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout – We’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson ever since the fire went out….”
At first glance you may not realize the significance of this image. We see a man on a staircase overlooking a railing. Only when we discover that the location is San Sebastián, Spain does the picture become clearer. This is Basque Country and the Basques are treated like second class citizens. Recently, the Basques have voted for independence only to be denied once again by the ruling Spanish government. When we observe the poverty surrounding the man in this image, “The Basques” c.1933, we begin to understand the reason for the Basque separatist movement.
To close out our blogs for February we bring you a February event from the past. Here is something that you will not see too often. The eruption of Eldfell Volcano on an island off the southwest coast of Iceland bought out firemen in a “Lava Cooling Operation“; Heimaey, Iceland (February 7, 1973) in an attempt to try and stem the flow of the threatening lava. DPI pays homage to the great, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado as we believe that this photo represents his style of work. In this photo firemen are spraying seawater on the steaming lava.
Great photojournalism illuminates injustice and moves people to action. “Baby in a Basket of Cotton“, Virginia c.1920 is a disturbing cotton plantation scene in its own right. The image is symbolic of the hardships encountered in the time of slavery, Jim Crow, sharecropping and tenant farming. But this little girl, too young to walk, appears to be the victim of child abuse as she has welts on her face by each of her eyes. What possible crime could she have committed to deserve this treatment?
Rules are made to be broken. A studio photograph is not something that we would normally post. This photograph is that exception. We encourage and welcome any comments from our viewers. We call this photo “The Olive Oil Business“; U. S. c.1899. Perhaps you had to see the film, but if you did not you must have been living in a cave and off the grid. Our interpretation is purely subjective and we intend no disrespect. Having seen the film you have to ask the question does art imitate life?
We present an iconic photograph taken during the Korean War, “Korea: Behind The Barbed Wire” c.1952. As Korea remains a divided nation we can only hope that one day freedom will prevail from the Yalu to Pusan. Having served in the military in Korea from January 1969 to September 1970, my feelings for the Korean people remain strong to this day. This photograph is symbolic of the nature of the conflict from a war that has never ended.
We believe that an iconic image deserves its own blog. The U. S. location and exact date of “Firemen: Hold The Line” is unknown. The assessment of the date is 1919. The term “hold the line” is a military term that we think is appropriate as the fire rages. A sign partially reads “Electric City” at the extreme left which may give a clue to the location. Possibilities seem to range almost anywhere from Jacksonville, Florida to the state of Washington based on research.
My family had purchased two copies of paintings by Margaret Keane known for her “Keane Eyes” a/k/a “Big Eyed Waifs”. As a youngster I remembered the haunting eyes of these children in Keane’s paintings. They were very popular at the time. So it is that the lead photograph, “Tuco, Texas (1930)” brought back those memories to me of long ago. We cannot see the eyes of these two young girls. Strong sunlight made them squint, and what we have are their eyes represented by large dark circles because they are in shadows. I see the same sadness in the closed eyes of these two girls growing up in the Dust Bowl as those represented in Keane’s paintings. Perhaps it is also the dust forcing them to keep their eyes closed.
To be honest, the motivation for this image is the film “Open Range” starring Robert Duvall and Kevin Costner. It airs frequently on cable television. I had thought that the concept of free grazing or open range was long dead. Not so, to my surprise. The concept of open range is alive and well in certain areas of the U. S. particularly in some western states.
The photo in this blog was taken just outside of Currie, Nevada. Currie is essentially in the middle of nowhere in eastern Nevada about 25 miles west of the Utah border. It is a ghost town today with a population of about 20. For that reason we have included it in our “Ghost Towns of the American Southwest” collection.
A recently acquired image of a crowded city scene is “Downtown Chicago“; c.1924. An amateur photo of exceptional quality developed in a home darkroom. DPI has a number of images taken in Chicago, but this one is special. The Fair Store is visible on the right as well as the 20th Century Cafe at the left. The hustle and bustle of the Roaring 20s in the Windy City.