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Library o f Co ng ress Coal Miner’s Child in Grade School, Lejunior, Harlan County, Kentucky, 1946. Christmas dinner in home of Earl Pauley. Near Smithfield, Iowa. Dinner consisted of potatoes, cabbage and pie. December 1936. can’t help but think that that gave him a much different view of lifehe was very sensitive to people who were dislocated. And, of course when he started taking pictures it was the Depression and people were literally pulled out of their homes, off their farms. So, besides having a highly skilled visual sense, their stories resonated with him. He never posed anyone. I remember once I showed him a photograph of several young men that I had taken. They had fallen into a very pleasing composition, and he asked, “Well, did you pose them?” I said, “No. I just let them take whatever position they felt like taking.” He was very happy. Russell Lee was a very subtle teacher. He didn’t say, “You should do this and you shouldn’t do that.” He just looked for whatever was good in whatever a student was doing and he promoted that in their work. But he had a few tricks up his sleeve. He might be in a room and ask the children, “Well, what do you do in this room and what do you do with this mirror?” And they’d say, “I comb my hair.” And he would say, “Well, would you do that for me?” Just a subtle little direction. You do what you have to do. Life processes. How do people wash their clothes? How do people cook their food? What do they do for entertainment? Where do they go to church? It was these very basic parts of our lives that he was interested in. He took a whole series of photographs of children who look sad and dislocated. But children and people in general caneven in the worst of circumstancesentertain themselves and find joy in life as best as they can. Sometimes you go can go through the door and no matter what, you can still see remarkable beauty. 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9/24/04