Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The More Things Change....

(click the image for the big picture)

If you have stopped in here to read my thoughts from time to time you might have noticed that I do a lot of photography. Documenting the world around me is one of my obsession, because I have learned that memories fade, but physical images can last well beyond our lifetime.

I find myself drawn to the high resolution images from the 1860 thru the 1940s that show our nation in a different light. Gone are all the super-fast and hyper imagery of our current day and age. Instead they are replaced by a slower, more paced time. A time before plastics and the invention of the automobile. Back when a radio was a luxury and when there was no practical way to speak with someone in China or the Congo, except by letter.

I have often poured over these images, because when they are blown up on high quality monitor, there are things in the background that aren't noticeable with the naked eye. Expressions on faces. Petticoats and street cleaners that shoveled up the by-product of horse drawn carriages and wagons. Boys running down the street chasing a hoop with a stick and little girls playing hop-scotch with bows in their hair.

As I gaze at these images. I realize that we haven't really changed that much as a people. We may be a bit more liberal and possibly a bit more knowledgeable. But the things that drive us and the things we strive for are pretty much the same. Security, success, happiness, hope....I can see it in their faces. The camera doesn't lie.

What goes around, comes around. So I have learned not to assume that all the trappings of our current generation are all that permanent. Here in a capitalist society, we are often times told what to want by the people in the ivory towers that control the media and the money supply. In that regard, age has taught me to desire and pursue core values and not what is newer and shiny. Those are usually hollow pursuits.

My late father always told me to work hard and save my money or I might grow up to be a ditch digger or a garbage man. My father had no way of knowing back in 1960, that ditch digger in the 21 century use back-hoes to dig trenches and that garbage men work in air conditioned trucks with pneumatic arms that lift and empty the garbage cans, and they get paid union scale. Gone are the kush jobs with Boeing and ATT that he thought would be the Holy Grail of our age. I firmly believe that sanitation engineers that scoop up horse shit may make a come-back someday....and if they do, it may very well be the best job to have.

Information about the attached photo: "Washington, D.C., circa 1906. "Senator George P. Wetmore, Rhode Island." Who can identify the car? (The current consensus: Krieger electric landaulet, from France.) Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative."

This picture was taken from the shorpy.com archive and shows a french electric car imported by a U.S. Congressman. Seated with him is his wife (nice hat) and the driver and the footman. More information and details can be found here.