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Sunday, 16 January 2011

After the Land Rush: Under the Bridge


Secondhand row, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma City seems to have an unusually large number of these cheap secondhand stores, probably because of the floating oil workers and currently shifting populations in surrounding rural areas
: photo by Russell Lee, February 1940

What upon the land had not yet been stripped
away remained even more exposed
than before; out of the maze
of hovels and
warrens thrown
up at random upon the city
dump rose
the Mays Avenue
camp; ineffectual was
the prophylaxis
the drugstore
proffered; no paradise more
could have beckoned
than the secondhand store.

Street in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: photo by John Vachon, November 1942

Image, Source: digital file from intermediary roll film

Children at Mays Avenue camp playing under the bridge, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: photo by Russell Lee, July 1939

Photos from Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress


Anonymous said...

After the Land Rush: Under the Bridge is a very good title and goes very well with the arrangement of pictures. The forward motion it suggests -- something was first rushing on the land and now it is flowing under a bridge -- which in itself has no meaning (but forward motion always seems exciting and optimistic to me) is arrested by the very sad poem, whose detail "no paradise more/meagre" I won't forget. Until this morning, the history of U.S. Army Prophylaxis Stations was completely unknown to me. It's incredible the things they left out of those WW II movies I saw as a child.

TC said...

About the Prophylaxis sign, John Vachon's characteristically subtle way of showing something we are not quite seeing -- a viewer of the image asked, "Why Prophylaxis?"

(They used to say innocence is bliss, whoever they are or were, I seem to remember.)