Traces Posted February 17 Share Posted February 17 Here's a thread for the photos taken by Russell Lee in 1939 and John Vachon in 1943 of the small, deep-East Texas town of San Augustine. You may ask yourself, why San Augustine? Why did both of these photographers spend so much time there? In April 1939, Roy Stryker, his boss at the Farm Service Administration (FSA) asked Russell Lee to think about an extensive photo-documentary visit to a small, quintessentially American town. Stryker was acting from an impulse familiar to any reader of Traces of Texas: trying to summon up a nostalgia-loving visual reminder of the small town he grew up near (Montrose, Colorado). Russell Lee was on Stryker's wavelength in some important ways. He came from a small town (Ottawa, Illinois) and understood its mannerisms, how to to act among the people, politeness. Lee visited San Augustine initially because of the area's hookworm problem, but that proved impossible because nobody in San Augustine was willing to talk about it. But he liked San Augustine's "everytown" look and daily rhythms and ended up breaking his look at San Augustine in terms of common themes: Education, leisure, work, family, religion, and government activities. This meant, of course, Saturday, when farmers from outside the town came to sell their produce and conduct business. Lee gets the folks buying seeds, the folks eating ice cream, the folks selling produce etc... His kindly Midwest manner served him well; he moved comfortably at any level of society.Conducting BusinessStreet scene Pedestrians Milling around on the Sidewalks A blacksmith at work in his shop. More Street Scenes Blacksmiths working in a shop in San Augustine, Texas, 1939. I ponder being a blacksmith and sort of feel that standing over a hot forge in Texas in the summer is just about some of the most manly work I can imagine. A block of ice melts on the bank steps. Another street scene Farmer buying seeds Fixing a car Paying a bill? A grocer adds up various tabs that folks have run up at his store. I think they are eating an orange in front of the grocery store. Waiting in line to see a movie A boy tries on new shoes as his grandfather, who I think is going to buy them for him, looks kindly on. Scene in a barbershop. I wonder if the truth was ever been stretched in this place. Naaah! 😎 Jeweler repairing watch in San Augustine, 1939 A young man rings a bell at a hotel in San Augustine, 1939A Western Union employee at work with pipe in mouth in San Augustine, 1939 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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