Pie Town, New Mexico 1940 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 1939 The “Dust Bowl,” The Grapes of Wrath of John Steinbeck, the Okies and the Arkies and the Texas Panhandlers who went to California for the promised land, areall here. This is history with a bite. This FSA work by Lee is part of the great inheritance that photography be’stows on those who come after us, permitting them to see and understand the past as it really waswith warts and without shoes. One of my favorite pictures is from the series Lee took in Pie Town, New Mexion the front bumper of the Chevrolet, with her baby balanced face down on her lap while the plate she is eating from hovers above the baby, is a rich moment, and Lee’s artistry allows us to keep it and enjoy it. But for a picture that is a storyteller, a documentary record of a shameful era of 4 DECEMBER 29, 1978 American life, the photograph of the black youth at the segregated drinking ing reminder that we are only a few years separated from our recent past of social barbarism. And I know that there are some Lee photographsagain not in this volume, but I can’t resist mentioning themas riveting and dramatic as anything Goya ever painted. In 1954 Lee went to the 4th of July political gathering at Belton, Texas, which was a sort of mandatory ritual for all state-wide candidates in Texas in those days. Ralph Yarborough and Allan Shivers were engaged in a bitter governor’s race. After the election Russell Lee showed me a portfolio of photos he had taken during the campaign, including some of Allan Shivers at Belton that I had never seen before. In my opinion they were, and are, absolutely devastat ing, ‘showing Shivers looking like a demagogue conjured up from Hell. As I looked at them, I thought, good Lord, if we had circulated these during the campaign we might have defeated Shivers. This was the campaign in which Shivers tried to destroy Yarborough with the Port Arthur story. I asked Lee: why haven’t I seen these before? Russ smiled and said, “I wouldn’t have liked them to be used, it somehow wouldn’t have been right.” The third section of photographs is from the work Lee did during World War II with the Air Transport Command. These are the most fabulous pictures simply as picturesin the book. From the Burma Road, to China, to Jerusalem, to the Gold Coast of Africa, to the Assam Valley in India, to scenes as remote to us as tales from the Arabian Nights, Lee shows us what it must have been like on
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.