The memorial at “Mauthausen“; Mauthausen, Austria c.1949. Nazi slave labor concentration camp. Photos came to us by way of Serbia. Our collection of Nazi concentration camp photos including Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dachau and Brandenburg can be found here.
It was the sledgehammer that grabbed our attention. “John Henry Redux“; Ohio c.1928. The folk hero and the song, “John Henry was a Steel Driving Man” are a part of Americana. Our John Henry worked with a sledgehammer as did the folk hero but in a different occupation. He was not competing against a steam driven drill. What is a bit confusing in the photo is the angle at which he is swinging the sledgehammer. It seems to be at the wrong angle to drive in spikes, and if used to move a rail tie surely it would destroy the tie. The rails can shift over time, and today they would not be straightened using a sledgehammer there are machines made for that purpose. In this railroad worker’s time the sledgehammer was the tool of choice.
Calvin who? No, not John Calvin. Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States of America. “Silent Cal”. President Coolidge is seen here riding with his wife Grace in the presidential open limousine. Shown in the original sepia. Presidents riding in open limousines ended with the assassination of JFK. What is especially interesting is that this amateur photo was taken at such close range to a sitting President.
“Calvin Coolidge” c. 1925.
A very special, newly acquired photograph. Our first title was supposed to be “Los Vaqueros” (The Cowboys) even though we had hoped that upon investigation we had stumbled upon something more valuable. Notice the removed wall plaques which would be consistent with actions taken toward l’ancien regime during a revolution. What we have here, in fact, is a scene taken during the Mexican Revolution c.1917. Signature on the new plaques on the wall bears that of Emilio Zapata. So our new title is “Los Zapatistas” as these vaqueros are most likely supporters of Zapata. That being the case the best guess as to the location of this scene seems to be in Cuernava in the state of Morales. Viva Zapata!
Clearly symbolic of the Great Depression. These two women are most likely mother and daughter as they share an uncommon genetic trait, cleft chins. What are they searching for? An uncertain road lies ahead.
“Far and Away“; U. S. c.1934
I address this point about the use of shadows in a photograph because I believe it has been largely ignored in the literature. Shadows are not necessarily to be avoided, and rather I would argue that they should be incorporated if they improve the image. Such is the case, I believe, with “Along Pennsylvania Route 616” (1944). How would this scene look without the shadows? That is the question that you have to ask yourselves. Now playing: “The Falcon Out West” starring Tim Conway and Barbara Hale.
We acquired this photo without any accompanying documentation. Our initial conclusions regarding time and place were completely wrong. Only after we did our homework were we able to make a final assessment. We assess that this photo was taken in Port of Spain, Trinidad c. January 1942 following reaction to local labor issues which were compounded by British colonial policies in which the population did not receive adequate representation. Sound familiar?
“The Rebellion“; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago c. January 1942
We visualized this image of a southwest mission long before we acquired it. And then it appeared.
“The Mission“; Albuquerque, New Mexico (March 14, 1949)
This sensitive portrait “The Coal Miner” (Dora, Alabama c.1960), is the latest addition to our coal collection. This miner worked in the Warrior Coal Field in Walker County. The only question remaining is did he lose his right foot in a mine accident or was this just a bad crop by the photographer? Regardless, working in the coal mines is a dangerous occupation.
Our research indicates with a very high degree of confidence that this was the last photo taken of RMS Lusitania before she was torpedoed off Head of Kinsale, Ireland on May 7, 1915. The lighthouse at Head of Kinsale is visible in the background. The Lusitania had made several hundred transits across the Atlantic between Europe and the United States so her speed and heading were well established. At a top speed of 29 knots she could outrun any U-boat in open waters. But the Lusitania was torpedoed twice on her starboard side. This means that the U-boat would have had to be lying in wait between the coastline and the ship giving it time to set up the angle on the bow and calculate distance and speed. The sinking of the Lusitania was no chance encounter. Based on speed of the ship in this photo and the fact that she was hit 11 miles SSE of Kinsale, this photo was probably taken about half an hour before the attack. The great ship sank in 18 minutes.
See also: Lusitania