Saturday, July 10, 2010

THE GREAT DEPRESSION - A PHOTO ESSAY

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A Photo Essay on the Great Depression


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The trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange just after the crash of 1929. On Black Tuesday, October twenty-ninth, the market collapsed. In a single day, sixteen million shares were traded--a record--and thirty billion dollars vanished into thin air. Westinghouse lost two thirds of its September value. DuPont dropped seventy points. The "Era of Get Rich Quick" was over. Jack Dempsey, America's first millionaire athlete, lost $3 million. Cynical New York hotel clerks asked incoming guests, "You want a room for sleeping or jumping?"
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Police stand guard outside the entrance to New York's closed World Exchange Bank, March 20, 1931. Not only did bank failures wipe out people's savings, they also undermined the ideology of thrift.
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Unemployed men vying for jobs at the American Legion Employment Bureau in Los Angeles during the Great Depression.
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World War I veterans block the steps of the Capital during the Bonus March, July 5, 1932 (Underwood and Underwood). In the summer of 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, World War I veterans seeking early payment of a bonus scheduled for 1945 assembled in Washington to pressure Congress and the White House. Hoover resisted the demand for an early bonus. Veterans benefits took up 25% of the 1932 federal budget. Even so, as the Bonus Expeditionary Force swelled to 60,000 men, the president secretly ordered that its members be given tents, cots, army rations and medical care.

In July, the Senate rejected the bonus 62 to 18. Most of the protesters went home, aided by Hoover's offer of free passage on the rails. Ten thousand remained behind, among them a hard core of Communists and other organizers. On the morning of July 28, forty protesters tried to reclaim an evacuated building in downtown Washington scheduled for demolition. The city's police chief, Pellham Glassford, sympathetic to the marchers, was knocked down by a brick. Glassford's assistant suffered a fractured skull. When rushed by a crowd, two other policemen opened fire. Two of the marchers were killed.
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Bud Fields and his family. Alabama. 1935 or 1936. Photographer: Walker Evans.
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Squatter's Camp, Route 70, Arkansas, October, 1935.
Photographer: Ben Shahn
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Philipinos cutting lettuce, Salinas, California, 1935. Photographer: Dorothea Lange.
In order to maximize their ability to exploit farm workers, California employers recruited from China, Japan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the American south, and Europe.
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Roadside stand near Birmingham, Alabama, 1936. Photographer: Walker Evans.
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Farmer and sons, dust storm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma, 1936. Photographer: Arthur Rothstein.
The drought that helped cripple agriculture in the Great Depression was the worst in the climatological history of the country. By 1934 it had dessicated the Great Plains, from North Dakota to Texas, from the Mississippi River Valley to the Rockies. Vast dust storms swept the region.
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Migrant pea pickers camp in the rain. California, February, 1936. Photographer: Dorothea Lange.
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In one of the largest pea camps in California. February, 1936. Photographer: Dorothea Lange.
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The photograph that has become known as "Migrant Mother" is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange made in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, California. Lange was concluding a month's trip photographing migratory farm labor around the state for what was then the Resettlement Administration. In 1960, Lange gave this account of the experience:

I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).
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Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother," destitute in a pea picker's camp, because of the failure of the early pea crop. These people had just sold their tent in order to buy food. Most of the 2,500 people in this camp were destitute. By the end of the decade there were still 4 million migrants on the road.
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Freight car converted into house in "Little Oklahoma," California. February, 1936. Photographer: Dorothea Lange
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Gellert, Hugo, 1924. Vote Communist poster. During the 1920s the American Communist Party was often a victim at once of government oppression and of its own sectarian struggles, but in the mid-1930s it adopted a "popular front" policy of alliances with liberal organizations. Its membership tripled, but more important still were the thousands of sympathizers who endorsed party-supported causes.
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Demonstration of unemployed, Columbus, Kansas. May 1936. Photographer: Arthur Rothstein.
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A sharecropper's yard, Hale County, Alabama, Summer 1936. Photographer: Walker Evans
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Porch of a sharecropper's cabin, Hale County, Alabama, Summer 1936. Photographer: Walker Evans. The marginal and oppresive economy of sharecropping largely collapsed during the great Depression.
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Kitchen in house of Floyd Burroughs, sharecropper, near Moundville, Hale County, Alabama. Summer 1936. Photographer: Walker Evans.
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Part of an impoverished family of nine on a New Mexico highway. Depression refugees from Iowa. Left Iowa in 1932 because of father's ill health. Father an auto mechanic laborer, painter by trade, tubercular. Family has been on relief in Arizona but refused entry on relief roles in Iowa to which state they wish to return. Nine children including a sick four-month-old baby. No money at all. About to sell their belongings and trailer for money to buy food. "We don't want to go where we'll be a nuisance to anybody." Children of migrant workers typically had no way to attend school. By the end of 1930 some 3 million children had abandoned school. Thousands of schools had closed or were operating on reduced hours. At least 200,000 children took to the roads on their own. Summer 1936. Photographer: Dorothea Lange.
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People living in miserable poverty, Elm Grove, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. August 1936. Photographer: Dorothea Lange.
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Squatter camp, California, November 1936. Photographer: Dorothea Lange.
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During the Great Depression, unemployment was high. Many employers tried to get as much work as possible from their employees for the lowest possible wage. Workers were upset with the speedup of assembly lines, working conditions and the lack of job security. Seeking strength in unity, they formed unions. Automobile workers organized the U.A.W. (United Automobile Workers of America) in 1935. General Motors would not recognize the U.A.W. as the workers' bargaining representative. Hearing rumors that G.M. was moving work to factories where the union was not as strong, workers in Flint began a sit-down strike on December 30, 1936. The sit-down was an effective way to strike. When workers walked off the job and picketed a plant, management could bring in new workers to break the strike. If the workers stayed in the plant, management could not replace them with other workers. This photograph shows the broken windows at General Motors' Flint Fisher Body Plant during the Flint sit-down strike of 1936-37.
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Strikers guarding window entrance to Fisher body plant number three. Flint, Michigan, Jan.-Feb. 1936. Photographer: Sheldon Dick.
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Toward Los Angeles, California. 1937. Photographer: Dorothea Lange. Perhaps 2.5 million people abandoned their homes in the South and the Great Plains during the Great Depression and went on the road.
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Waiting for the semimonthly relief checks at Calipatria, Imperial Valley, California. Typical story: fifteen years ago they owned farms in Oklahoma. Lost them through foreclosure when cotton prices fell after the war. Became tenants and sharecroppers. With the drought and dust they came West, 1934-1937. Never before left the county where they were born. Now although in California over a year they haven't been continuously resident in any single county long enough to become a legal resident. Reason: migratory agricultural laborers. March 1937. Photographer: Dorothea Lange.
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Drought refugees near Holtville, California. March 1937. Photographer: Dorothea Lange
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Leland, Mississippi, in the Delta area, June 1937. Photographer: Dorothea lange.
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Lincoln Brigade Ambulance Corps. Group photo in New York of sixteen volunteers, American Medical Bureau. 125 American men and women served in the Spanish Civil War with the American Medical Bureau as nurses, doctors, and support staff. 1936-1939. The Spanish Civil War was the great international cause of the 1930s. Aided by Hitler and Mussolini, the Spansih military led a revolt against the progressive elected government. About 3,000 Americans volunteered to fight on behlaf of the Spanish Republic. Click here for the MAPS page on the Spanish Civil War
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Spanish Civil War demonstration in New York. Press photo. Photograph by "Alexander, 177 Thompson Street, New York."
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Strike pickets, New York, New York. Dec. 1937. Photographer: Arthur Rothstein.
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Unemployed workers in front of a shack with Christmas tree, East 12th Street, New York City. December 1937. Photographer: Russell Lee. Tattered communities of the homeless coalesced in and around every major city in the country.
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Part of the daily lineup outside the State Employment Service Office. Memphis, Tennessee. June 1938. Photographer: Dorothea Lange.
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Squatter makes coffee in kitchen at his home in abandoned warehouse, Caruthersville, Missouri. August 1938. Photographer: Russell Lee.
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Members of the picket line at King Farm strike. Morrisville, Pennsylvania. August 1938. Photographer: John Vachon. In contrast to a frequently racist society, several unions were militantly integrationist.
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Power farming displaces tenants. Texas panhandle, 1938. Photographer: Dorothea Lange.
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Squatters in Mexican section in San Antonio, Texas. House was built of scrap material in vacant lot in Mexican
section of San Antonio, Texas. March 1939. Photographer: Russell Lee.
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Mexican woman arranging things in her shack home. San Antonio, Texas. March 1939. Photographer: Russell Lee.
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Relief line waiting for commodities, San Antonio, Texas. March 1939. Photographer: Russell Lee.
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Man in hobo jungle killing turtle to make soup, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sept. 1939. Photographer: John Vachon.
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Selling apples, Jacksonville, Texas. October, 1939. Photographer: Russell Lee. Many tried apple-selling to avoid the shame of panhandling. In New York City, there were over 5,000 apple sellers on the street.
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Young boys waiting in kitchen of city mission for soup which is given out nightly. Dubuque, Iowa. April 1940. Photographer: John Vachon. For millions, soup kitchens offered the only food they would eat.
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Durham, North Carolina, May 1940. Photographer: Jack Delano. "At the bus station."
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Upstairs bedroom of family on relief, Chicago, Illinois. April 1941. Photographer: Russell Lee.
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Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Strikers near the sugar mill. Jan. 1942. Photographer: Jack Delano.
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Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. In the mill village at the sugar mill. Jan. 1942. Photographer: Jack Delano.
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FEMME FATALE

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RAY CHARLES: LOOKING BACK

As his 80th birthday approaches, a look at the life and legacy of the late Ray Charles.


"I just do what I do." That's what Ray Charles told Billboard in June 2002 when asked to assess his role in music history. Of course, Charles' self-effacing response belies a groundbreaking career and a legacy that endures today, as fans look toward celebrating what would have been the legendary artist's 80th birthday Sept. 23. Looking back at Charles' storied career, what comes to mind is the phrase "musical genius." In Charles' case, that's no hype.


Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity


In 1954, the artist's melding of gospel and blues yielded the pioneering hit "I've Got a Woman"-and forged an indelible imprint on R&B, rock and pop. His earthy, soulful voice graced a steady stream of classics after "Woman," including "Drown in My Own Tears," "What'd I Say," "Hit the Road Jack," "Unchain My Heart," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Georgia on My Mind."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "Hit The Road Jack" in São Paulo, Brazil on September 22, 1963.


Video below: Ray Charles performs "Then I'll Be Home" in Montreux, Switzerland on July 19, 1997.


Just as at home on the Hammond B-3 organ as he was on the piano, he also landed at the top of Billboard's R&B, pop, country and jazz charts-and even the dance chart, collaborating with childhood friend Quincy Jones and Chaka Khan on "I'll Be Good to You."

His final recording, 2004's "Genius Loves Company," made history when it won eight Grammy Awards, including album and record of the year for his pairing with Norah Jones on "Here We Go Again."

But what many may not know is that the inimitable Charles was also a genius when it came to the business side of music. In the early '60s he negotiated a rare feat after leaving Atlantic Records to sign with ABC-Paramount: ownership of his own master recordings. He also established his own labels. Tangerine (his favorite fruit) came first, which later evolved into CrossOver Records.

A songwriter who penned nearly 200 songs, Charles also operated his own publishing companies, Tangerine Music and Racer Music. For these entities, Charles and longtime manager Joe Adams designed and built the RPM International office and studios on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Ray Charles Memorial Library will open in the building this fall.

Charles also found time to manage the careers of other acts, including Billy Preston and '70s R&B group the Friends of Distinction. And way before it was de rigueur for artists to do, Charles set up what became a foundation to help needy children with hearing disabilities and later on support education.


He was an amazing human being," says Jones, 77, who became friends with Charles when both were scrappy teenagers in Seattle. "A true innovator who revolutionized music and the business of music," he adds. "Growing up, we only had the radio; no Michael Jackson, Diddy or Oprah. So it was hard to imagine today's entrepreneurial world. But that didn't stop us. We spent a lot of time talking and dreaming about things that brothers had never done before."

"He really was a genius," says singer Solomon Burke, a former Atlantic labelmate. "He did things the way he wanted."

Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson Sept. 23, 1930, in Albany, Ga. As many learned through actor Jamie Foxx's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 2004 film "Ray," Charles became blind by age 7 and orphaned at 15 while growing up in northwest Florida.

In eight years at a state school for the blind, the young Charles learned how to read and write music. Leaving Florida in 1947, he headed for Seattle ("Choosing the farthest place he could find from Florida," Jones says), where he notched his first hit two years later as a member of the Maxin Trio, "Confession Blues."

Even then, Charles was an enterprising individual. "He had his own apartment, record player, two pairs of pimp shoes, and here I am still living at home," Jones recalls with a laugh. "His mother trained him not to be blind: no cane, no dogs, no cup. His scuffed-up shoes... that was his guide and driving force. He was the most independent dude I ever saw in my life. Ray would get blind only when pretty girls came around."

Signing with Atlantic Records in 1952, Charles as a West Coast jazz and blues man recorded such songs as "It Should've Been Me" and label co-founder Ahmet Ertegun's composition, "Mess Around."

Then he connected in 1954 with "I've Got a Woman," which set off a chain reaction of more hits capitalizing on his bold gospel/blues fusion. But Charles was just getting started. In 1958, he performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, accompanied by a band that featured such jazz cats as saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman and Hank Crawford. Further bucking convention, he recorded "The Genius of Ray Charles," a 1959 release offering standards on one side (including "Come Rain or Come Shine") and big band numbers on the other, featuring members of Count Basie's orchestra and several arrangements by Jones.


Video below: Charles' 1966 Coke commercial, "So Tired."



Leaving Atlantic for ABC-Paramount, a fearless Charles recorded the seminal "Genius + Soul = Jazz" album in 1961. A year later, his earlier dabbling in country music grew serious with the release of the million-selling "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."

Complemented by lush strings and a harmony-rich choir, he scored with covers of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" and Ted Daffan's "Born to Lose"-and spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.




For a black man to do this in 1962 was unheard of," says Tony Gumina, president of the Ray Charles Marketing Group, which handles the late artist's licensing affairs. "He was trying to sell records to people who didn't want to drink from the same water fountain as him. But this was one of his greatest creative and business moves: to not be categorized musically and cross over. Though he never worried about it, he was resigned to the fact that he might lose some core fans. But he thought he'd gain far more in the process."

Gumina was operating his own promotion company working with state lotteries when he met Charles in 1999. The two teamed up on a series of commercials for various state lotteries and also introduced a line of Ray Charles slot machines also accessible to the blind.

"Everything he did had a business acumen to it," says Gumina, who cites Charles' liaison with manager Adams as a pivotal turning point. Originally hired to be Charles' stage announcer, former radio DJ Adams segued into overseeing production of the singer's shows, lighting and wardrobe.

Together the pair designed and built Charles' L.A. business base, RPM International (Recording, Publishing and Management) studio. When he began recording there in 1965, the label rented the studio from him, so he made money on his recordings before they were even released.

To save money on travel expenses, Charles purchased an airplane to ferry his band around to gigs. A smaller plane was also acquired so that Charles could wing in to, say, New York to record a couple of songs before flying back out in time for a show.

"He understood the entertainment business enough to know that you may not be popular forever," Gumina says, "and you need to maximize your product. At the same time, he had as much fun as any rock star but without the sad money stories. There was a time to work and a time to play, and he knew the difference. He didn't have a bunch of homes or a large entourage. That's why he was able to save $50 million before he died."

Calling Charles an "incredibly smart man," Concord president John Burk says he learned a lot from the ailing singer while he was recording his final studio album, "Genius Loves Company."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "It Ain't Easy Being Green" in Trentnton, NJ on Nov. 7, 2002.


Going through "some sticky deal points, he was amazing," Burk recalls. "He had the whole agreement in his head. Without referencing any material, he knew all the terms we proposed and had the deal done for the album in two discussions."

Creatively, Burk says Charles was an artist dedicated to delivering "a true performance from the heart. Part of his creative legacy was his approach to singing. He opened the door to vocal improvisations, changing how people perceived you could sing a song. Many singers today are influenced by him and they don't even know it."


Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity

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