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Friday, 20 January 2012

John Vachon: The Wind and the Rain


Rainy day, Indianapolis, Indiana: photo by John Vachon, January 1942

Rainy day, Indianapolis, Indiana: photo by John Vachon, January 1942

Rainy day, Indianapolis, Indiana: photo by John Vachon, January 1942

Rainy day, Indianapolis, Indiana: photo by John Vachon, January 1942

Rainy day, Indianapolis, Indiana: photo by John Vachon, January 1942

Rainy day, Indianapolis, Indiana: photo by John Vachon, January 1942

Rainy day, Indianapolis, Indiana: photo by John Vachon, January 1942

Rainy day, Indianapolis, Indiana: photo by John Vachon, January 1942

Rainy day, Indianapolis, Indiana: photo by John Vachon, January 1942

Rainy day, Indianapolis, Indiana: photo by John Vachon, January 1942

Rainy day, Indianapolis, Indiana: photo by John Vachon, January 1942

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


TC said...

John Vachon, a genius at weather-interpretation through expressive body language.

This is exactly what the weather looks/feels like today here in Indianapolis, too.

If it's like this where you are, or for that matter even if it isn't, drop a word in the box... or even a bit of spam, perhaps... and that way I can find out if the idiotic little anti-spam WV thingie is back up and "working".

(As though it had ever done a day of work in its life!)

Nin Andrews said...

deOh, okay, so here's the WV thingie.
Wind and rain--it knocks over all the trees in our woods here, so much so that it's dangerous to walk. I've had trees fall a few feet from me on a blustery day.

Great photos! I hope you get some sunshine soon!

TC said...

Thanks Nin, it's reassuring to know that the fnutnrod is still connected up with the whatziz.

I was a bit worried there, what with Google stocks plunging -- we must unite behind the Good Cause.

Which puts me in mind of the picture topping the bill in rainy, windy downtown Indianapolis today. I'm only a baby, but there's a war going on, and I've got to put my weak little shoulder to the big patriotic wheel.

After all, Bogey's doing it, ain't he?






Rain here too, what passes for a "gutter" (ditch beside Overlook which road crews scraped clean weeks ago, no rain since then so no way to see whether it slopes toward Ocean Parkway or not) getting full of standing water . . .

As Feste sings,

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.


first grey light in cloud against still
invisible ridge, black of pine branches
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

lets appear in what appears
as itself, this event

kind of like light, painted
trees, in relation to

grey white clouds reflected in channel,
shadowed green of ridge across from it


PS. Yes, time to put shoulder to wheel (what a great scene from "All Through the Night"!).

TC said...

Steve, with hey, ho

grey white clouds

traffic sluicing past

sound of rain in gutters

all over this world

TC said...


All Through the Night has some funny scenes, esp. that one, the tough-guy gangsters infiltrating the closet-Nazis-plotting-to-invade-New York cell-meeting -- the film (released a few days before Pearl harbor) scripted by Leonard Spiegelgass, a Broadway/Hollywood hack who had his moments... a sometime collaborator with, and, as is obvious in this scene, much under the influence of, Damon Runyon.

aditya said...

Wind Rain & Every One

trying to hold

on to everything & why


Great pictures

Another one here

Monsoon Downpour in Delhi

Somebody's got to



vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

After a week of freezing weather, the wind's blowing from the south and it's raining............chair legs! (English translation from the Greek idiom="cats and dogs")

Vachon's marvelous photographs fit in perfectly over here in the land where body language has reached the state of perfection.

ACravan said...

I was searching for the right words and then read "weather interpretation," and those were they. Because I don't live in a city any longer, it seems to me that I rarely see people, but I run through memories of city life and these people of the past seem like people of the present to me, and will probably continue to in the future. I didn't expect that growing up; I thought the rocket belts they promised would have been delivered by now and the sky would be my busy city sidewalk. We're just having our first snowfall of the year here, which means that I won't see any people at all today. I very much hope we won't have wind gusts and falling trees. We had far too much of that last winter. Curtis

TC said...

It's been raining heavily all through the night, all over this world -- or so it seems to one who has shared the long night of listening to the rain beat down on the low roof a few feet overhead with a large cat (sitting on one's face!) and with intermittent, strange, intense fever dreams (bred of a recurrence of chronic bronchial pneumonia).

The universality of this monsoon-rain experience is brought to mind by Aditya's great photo. To the obeisant beast of burden, such weather perhaps merely adds a few more degrees of burdensomeness.

And speaking of universality (or should I say mind-reading) -- Vassilis, when I was putting this post together, the draft title was: "John Vachon: Raining Cats and Dogs".

It has been very cold here, too, for the past six weeks or so, with frigid air bearing down upon us from the Arctic; but now the pattern has turned, and we have what is termed "The Pineapple Express" -- a great freight-train of wet tropical air riding the jet stream from the central Pacific.

Curtis, the wind gusts and falling trees you have been spared are upon us here now. But the life of the city, and in particular the city traffic, insists on continuing; as I hunt-and-peck these words in the darkness, the water-saturated redwood branches are soughing in the wind, and the drain spouts are bubbling over; but even at 3:10 a.m. on a weekend, the splashing of cars speeding through the puddles out front, heading to and from the bridge, goes on unabated.

John Vachon's photos always bring back so many memories for me. These keep putting me in mind of the literal meaning hidden in the now-figurative expression, "Hold on to your hats!"

aditya said...

That picture must be from 1984. Taken by Raghu Rai. June or July probably.

But for this post & the follow up comments it is dry as anything else in Delhi

which reminds me of Buffaloes

TC said...


Blogger has been acting up intermittently the past few days/nights, preventing comments because of word verification malfunction.

I tried several times to post comments on your site last night/ this morning, but no go.

This is the gist of what I wanted to say about your new poem:

Touching. Curiously sad...

A moving picture. An elegy for kindness.

It did rain, the buffalo are not coming back, Paris looks so much better seen through a fogged wine glass, and guava nectar lends enchantment to the view.

TC said...

Meanwhile, everyone (all very few of you), welcome to the first minute of the rest of your life without having to encounter the WV machine here. For the next one minute.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Well, your verification problem solved, I'm loving the Bogey movie clip. Saw this again not too long ago and it is a laugher on occasion.

My father, a working class stiff with little time for much beyond back breaking drudgery and a six pack, gifted me with two writers: Damon Runyon and, improbably but wonderfully, Thomas Hardy.

The Runyon reference conjured his memory, a mixed blessing but, most importantly, a blessing.

Thanks, Tom. You've hit just the precise spot (again).

PS Finely, a few inches of snow here after one of the mildest winters in memory (and there are actually quite a few in recent memory, which makes it all the more frightening).

TC said...


Your father gave you two writers worth keeping.

Glad you were able to detect the Runyonesque quality in that Bogey clip, I thought it good fun. (The character Bogey's pretending to be turns out to be -- as we see at the end of the clip -- none other than Peter Lorre!)

Don't know if you were aware of this, but back in the early Seventies I put in some years on the Runyon beat. Out of that came a book: The World of Damon Runyon (Harper & Row). Very little known, I guess.

Damon's theatrical agent, an amazing Guys & Dolls throwback named Sheldon Abend (he owned Al Capone's hat & gun!) loved the book, and was regularly announcing to us that he was going to swing a major paperback deal for it.

One time he told us he had a paperback house on the hook, but would refuse any offer less that $450,000. Sure, fine, Shelly, I said. Of course it never happened. Then he hooked me up with Peter Bogdanovich who was allegedly to make a movie out it, financed by Mike Douglas. Sure, fine, Shelly, I said. There were a few conversations with PD, but... pipe dreams.

(The basic Runyon rule was Get The Money. That's the one I never learned to follow.)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Back in the day, I probably held your Runyon book in my hands many a time but didn't make the connection. I see we still have it in the library I work (in one of the sections I'm responsible for - American lit), so it will be a real pleasure to take a look.

"Little Pinks" is one of those stories that stick in the mind and somehow, in the weird way the old mind connects things, I always think of the movie "Midnight Cowboy" when I think of this story. And then there was the Lucille Ball "The Big Street" movie, which somehow I managed only to see the last 3 minutes of on TV just a couple of weeks ago. Never saw the whole thing, though I understand DR was behind the production.




Great research (link to Tom's book in library, "The Big Street")! How do you insert links into your comment?

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Slight breeze. Mid 80's. Snow patches on top on Mauna Kea, right under the observatories. I count four. Observatories are whiter than the snow fields. A few jacarandas in sight. Melted ice cube cool inside Starbucks where I am a practicing fauxhemian today. Could I devise a syllabus for "Nature Writing" for the local community college? Google this, google that. Some Sbucks grafficky things floating across the windowns. Beans, pods, suns, seeds.

aditya said...

Thank you Tom for yr kindness on the buffaloes.


Its pretty simple actually

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


As Aditya's link testifies, it's old school - you simply take the word or words you want to link, then use html around the word(s).

Here's another example to add to Aditya's.


TC said...


The Big Street one of the better films of the many made from Runyon's tales. That was at the height of his popularity. He sold the story "Little Pinks" to RKO for $15,000 (plus a third of the gross), then signed up as writer/producer on the project (at 2K+ per week, which suited his high style of living at the time).

He really put his shoulder to the wheel on that project, insisting that the director, Irving Reis, fly back to New York with him for a tour of his Broadway haunts, before they began work together.

He viewed the rushes in RKO screening rooms over a hundred times, tightening and tweaking. The film turned out to be a pretty good money maker.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks for the background info - I'll have to see if I can pick up a copy to view in its entirety. It's nice to get a little taste of old NY to balance out the Pittsburghese now and again ...