Veterans Day, 2017

Larry Burrows (1926-1971), Mutter Ridge, Nui Cay Tri, South Vietnam, October 1966 (27.1998)

Larry Burrows (1926-1971), First-aid station. Mutter Ridge, Nui Cay Tri, October 1966 (1758.2005) (Life, October 28, 1966, p.38 )

Larry Burrows (1926-1971), “Having failed in their first attempt to take Hill 484, troops from the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines drop back to a safe distance to allow air and artillery strikes to help dislodge the NVA defenders,” October 1966 (1757.2005)

Haggard Patrol. The men filing warily through the thicket and gunner shouldering his rocket launcher across a stream are U.S Marines involved in one of the meanest, most important battles of the war. The ground they are contesting is just south of the supposedly demilitarized zone – the “DMZ – which divides North and South Vietnam. North Vietnamese troops had infiltrated the DMZ in preparation for an offensive which the Marines and other troops were primed to stop. Life, October 28, 1966, p. 30

Larry Burrows (1926-1971), “Four marines recover the body of a comrade under fire. On the right: French photographer Catherine Leroy, who had flown in on a supply helicopter”, October 1966 (1762.2005)

Under Fire. Four Marines recover the body of a fifth as their company comes under fire near Hill 484. “We were in the open approaching a 40 foot rise,” cabled photographer Larry Burrows, “Our point man ran to the top of the hill and was shot dead.” During the fire fight, Burrows took this picture and those on the next two pages of Marine wounded being treated at the front and helped to air evacuation points. According to a ranking officer, Marines counted more than 2,000 enemy dead in the furious ground action near the DMZ. Life, October 22, 1966, p. 36

Larry Burrows (1926-1971), Ammunition airlift during the relief of Khe Sanh, April 1968 (1765.2005)

To commemorate Veterans Day we present several photos made by Larry Burrows during the Vietnam War. Born Henry Frank Leslie Burrows in London in 1926; died in Laos in 1971. A few excerpts from an informal conversation between between Burrows and Edgar H. Needham, conducted while they were drinking coffee in Burrows’s office, in Hong Kong on Chinese New Year’s Eve, January 1971, and published in Popular Photography in 1971:

“It’s a thing I’ve said many times: does one have the right to capitalize on the grief of others? The only reason I can give myself is that if one can show to others what these people are going through, in this scene in Vietnam or wherever else in the world, then there’s a reason for doing it.”
Burrows’ incredible ability to remain cool when things became, as he would say, “a bit difficult,” was well known. I asked him if he ever got frightened. He gave me a penetrating look, capping it with that twinkle of his and replied, “Everybody gets frightened; I mean anybody who says they’re not frightened is an absolute, bloody fool.
“In my case,” he went on, “surely there are moments when my lips go dry and I feel a little bit uncomfortable. In the first place, you’ve got to be a fatalist; and secondly, you’re trying to get on one small frame all this turmoil around you… you realize that you could take a hundred photographs and nothing would possibly convey the amount of tension at that particular moment. And when you realize the limitations of the still camera, your mind is tied up.
“For over 20 years, I’ve been involved in various forms of conflicts and realizing each time that trying to find that one telling photograph becomes just that much more difficult. In Vietnam, for example, at no other time in the history of war or conflict does one come in so close to human suffering, and so it’s no longer a tank smoking; you need more than that.”
Larry was concerned about being labeled a “war photographer.” “That’s actually a lot of twaddle,” he almost exploded. “In the old days I photographed, for example, a hell of a lot of paintings. You look in the cabinet over there, and there’s an 8×10 camera, there’s a 4×5. I’ve got a mass of floodlights and strobe light and so on.”
“Well,” he replied, “I’m an adventurer by nature; this is why I love this part of the world with the different nationalities and the different religions. It’s a fascinating area to work in. To me, it’s a hobby as well as a job. You know I’m one of the five percent lucky ones in life who does have a job that is a hobby.”
I asked him if he thought most men lead lives of quiet desperation. No doubt about his meaning, a slight pause and a firm Yes.
Popular Photography, “A Photographers Own Story,” By Edgar H. Needham, July 1971, pp.98-99, 121-122.

Unidentified Photographer, [LIFE photographer Larry Burrows attaching cameras to helicopter Yankee Papa 13], March 31, 1965 (1956.2005)

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“Ain’t The Way I Heard It”

Frank Cancellare (1910-1985), [President Harry S. Truman holding up newspaper, St. Louis], November 4, 1948 (2014.28.2)

St. Louis, MO: This photo of President Harry S. Truman laughing as he holds an early edition of the Chicago Tribune for Nov. 4th 1948, was taken by United Press staff photographer Frank Cancellare. The newspaper whose headline jumped to an erroneous conclusion as early election returns came in, was shown to HST as he stopped here during his victorious return trip to Washington, D.C.
Credit…UPI 11/4/28

Harry S. Truman became the 33rd President of the United States on April 12, 1945, after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945). After serving three years as President, fulfilling FDR’s term, Truman (1884–1972), a Democrat, defeated Republican Thomas E. Dewey (1902–1971), the Governor of New York, in the 1948 United States Presidential election. Truman received 303 electoral votes to Dewey’s 189. The popular vote was approximately 24,000,000 for Truman and 22,000,000 for Dewey.

This was extraordinary because it was widely predicted, almost expected, that Dewey would win the election. Truman’s popularity and approval rate were low. Truman’s barnstorming and a fervent whistle-stop tour helped him win the election. Frank Cancellare’s well-known photo was made two days after election day, Tuesday, November 2, 1948. Truman, was traveling on the Presidential train, the Ferdinand Magellan, a “Pullman Company observation car that served as Presidential Rail Car, U.S. Number 1 from 1943 until 1958.” Truman was returning from his home in Independence, Missouri through Kansas City to Washington D.C. During a brief stop in St. Louis, as he was thanking his supporters from the rear observation platform, the newspaper was handed to him, he laughed and held it up, the crowd roared. A few press photographers, including Frank Cancellare, were also on Truman’s train. Cancellare got off the train, went to the back and into the crowd and captured this now iconic image. (A less cropped version of this image can be seen on Getty Images. Apparently W. Eugene Smith made a similar photo.) Truman was holding the Chicago Daily Tribune, from November 3, 1948. Apparently 150,000 copies were printed, and a factor in the inaccurate headline was that the paper was printed earlier than usual because of a printer’s strike. The photo was made at the St. Louis Union Station. The beautiful Union Station opened in 1894 and was the largest train station. In the 1970s it became a National Historic Landmark, and in the 1980s it became a “hotel, shopping center, and entertainment complex.” In the future it might be “a top tier family friendly destination boasting a one of a kind aquarium, a 200 foot Ferris wheel and many other unforgettable family attractions,” to quote from Union Station’s website.

Life, November 1, 1948, p. 37. “The next President travels by ferry boat over the broad waters of San Francisco Bay.”

The Chicago Daily Tribune wasn’t the only publication that publicly anticipated Dewey’s presidency. Life magazine, November 1, 1948, p. 37, ran an article titled: “Quest for Unity. Knowing the Problems Ahead, Dewey Tries to Solidify Whole U.S. for His Program.” A photo of Dewey and his wife, Frances Eileen Hutt (grandniece of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy), and several photographers on the back of a boat, with a bridge (not-so-subtle symbolism) in the background is captioned: “The next President travels by ferry boat over the broad waters of San Francisco Bay.”

In addition to being immortalized in a press photo of a President, the victorious Truman, laughing and holding a newspaper with an unsound headline, while standing on the rear of the Ferdinand Magellan, music was a preoccupation that united Truman and Dewey. Music was very important for both elected officials. Truman was passionate about music and played the piano. “In October, 1945, at a county fair in Caruthersville, Missouri, Truman played the piano for a group of Methodist Women and winked at them as he said, ‘When I played this, Stalin signed the Potsdam Agreement.'” Dewey had a great baritone voice, led his college glee club. “Coming to New York to study voice, Mr. Dewey enrolled in Columbia Law School to have an alternative occupation to fall back upon and for a time was torn between singing and law as a career. He helped pay his law school expenses by singing in church and synagogue choirs.”

Frank Cancellare, born in Brooklyn, began his career in photography when, at the age of eighteen, he worked as a “squeegee boy” in the darkrooms of Acme Newspictures, in New York City. He was a professional photographer for over 50 years, and worked for Acme Newspictures, United Press and United Press International. He photographed the Burma Road during World War Two. He covered many Presidents including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. He was in Dallas on November 22, 1963, covering Kennedy when he was assassinated.

“The camera doesn’t make the picture,” he used to say. “The photographer does.”
Colleagues attributed Mr. Cancellare’s skill to his early training with the old Speed Graphic cameras. These cumbersome devices had to be reloaded after each shot. There being few second chances in such a game, the convention was to get one usable picture “in the bag” and then wait for something memorable to happen. Success depended on alertness, stamina and a quick eye.
Combined with the brashness needed in a profession as competitive as Mr. Cancellare’s, the Speed Graphic taught many useful lessons. As expressed by Mr. Cancellare, one of these was that “as soon as you get something you want, say, ‘Thank you,’ and the whole thing breaks up and you’re the only one with the picture.” Washington Post, “Frank Cancellare, Ex-UPI Photographer, Dies,” By J.Y. Smith, July 16, 1985.

Frank Cancellare and Weegee, very early in their careers, worked as “squeegee boys” in the darkrooms of Acme Newspictures in New York City. Perhaps coincidentally, they both also had a pair of photos in an exhibition at MoMA, in 1949. “The Exact Instant,” (February 8 – May 1, 1949), was an exhibition of American news photography and featured over 300 photos. The exhibition was “directed” by Edward Steichen (1879–1973), the assistant was photographer Homer Page (1918-1985), and the installation was designed by Rene d’Harnoncourt (1901–1968).

One of Weegee’s photos was in a section titled “Fire, Floods, etc.” from the MoMA checklist: “Weegee, from his book Naked City: Mother and daughter look up hopelessly as another daughter and her baby burn to death in tenement fire, Brooklyn, December 1939. The photo is also known as “‘I Cried When I Took This Picture,’ Ms. Henrietta Torres and Her Daughter Ada Watch as Another Daughter and Her Son Die in Fire,” December 15, 1939. And in the “People” section was: “Weegee, from his book ‘Naked City’: ‘Tenement Penthouse’ – children sleep on fire escape.” Also known as: [Tenement sleeping during heat spell, Lower East Side, New York], May 22, 1941.

One of Cancellare’s photos was in a section titled “Faces,” from the MoMA checklist: “Frank Cancellare, Acme: George E. Allen testifying before a Senate committee, Feb. 1946.” And another photo was in the “Politics” section: “Frank Cancellare, Acme: John L. Lewis reading newspaper at time of Federal injunction restraining miners’ work stoppage, Nov. 1946.” Fittingly it is a photo of a person reading a newspaper.

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“The Lower East Side Watches Its Champ Win”

PM, November 6, 1940, p. 1

PM, November 6, 1940, p. 16-17

They Also Served Who Only Stood and Gaped
The hub of the universe – or at least, the hub of New York’s voting was – Times Square last night, and early today. Thousands of extra cops were on duty… Many thousands of citizens were on deck… They had voted… They now waited for the final score… Mr. and Mrs. America watched and waited… And this is a picture of Mr. and Mrs. America at midnight.

Horns, buttons and headlines-while-you-wait. Photo by Bill Brunk, PM Staff.
The song had ended but the melody lingered on – for a while… Photo by Leo Lieb, PM Staff.
Figure it out from their faces: Who’d they vote for? Photo by Gene Badger, PM Staff.

The most intriguing triangle in the world – Times Square – bulged last night and early today as America waited for the answer. This is no cross-section – this is the crowd! Photo by Wide World.

PM, November 6, 1940, p. 18

The Lower East Side Watches Its Champ Win
Thousands of the people who most love the President jammed East Broadway on the lower East Side last night to cheer his third-term victory. They are reading election bulletins flashed by the Jewish Daily Forward in this remarkable photo. Photo by Weegee.

Weegee (1899-1968), [Crowd watching election bulletins, New York], 1940 (16288.1993)

Weegee, “Weegee’s People,” 1946

Franklin Delano Roosevelt defeated Republican Wendell Willkie in November 1940 to win his third term as President of the United States. At 11:40 AM, Wednesday, November 6th, Willkie, at his Hotel Commodore headquarters, conceded the election to President Roosevelt: “I accept the result of the election with complete good will.” Roosevelt won the popular vote by approximately 5 million votes and the electoral vote was 449 to 82. FDR won New York state’s 47 electoral votes because of New York City. Queens and Staten Island voted for Willkie. The other boroughs voted for FDR by almost 2 to 1. (PM, November 6, 1940, p. 5). Many New Yorkers vigorously celebrated FDR’s victory. Times Square, a triangle in midtown, was the epicenter of the photogenic exuberance with an estimated crowd of 750,000. PM‘s staff photographers covered the jubilation thoroughly, mostly in mid-and-uptown. Weegee, working downtown, photographed a cheerful and youthful post-election crowd gathered in and around Straus Square on the Lower East Side. (Straus Square is named after Nathan Straus, 1848-1931. The Straus family emigrated from Bavaria to Georgia in the 1850s, then moved to New York after the Civil War, were very successful business people. They owned the largest department store, Macy’s in Herald Square. After the death of his wife and brother on the “S.S. Titanic in 1912, Nathan retired from business and devoted himself to family, charity, and public service,” including advocating for the pasteurization of milk.) Straus Square, a triangle downtown, with borders on East Broadway, Rutgers Street, Seward Park, and the beginning and end of Essex Street. The people in Weegee’s photo are enjoying the election bulletins projected by the Jewish Daily Forward; the Forward building is nearby at 173-175 East Broadway. These are Weegee’s people. The Communist candidate, Earl Browder, didn’t vote in the 1940 presidential elections. At the end of Willkie’s campaign it was reported that he said “United we stand. Divided we fall. Let us again be a nation united.” One day and thirteen months later the United States entered World War Two.

PM, November 6, 1940, p. 5

This is the way Harlem took it. There weren’t many GOP votes up that way and those broad smiles just about sum up Harlem’s glee over the re-elction of FDR. Photo by Ray Platnick, PM Staff.

PM, November 6, 1940, p. 18

Ina Ray Hutton, [Odessa Cowan, 1916–1984] woman orchestra leader, was for FDR.”

PM, November 6, 1940, p. 18

“This sort of thing went on all night. Photo by Leo Lieb, PM Staff

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Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971), [Line of South Korean farmers walking to village office to vote for country’s President and Vice President in first vote held in battle torn republic], 1952 (1722.2005)

Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971), [South Korean farmers waiting to vote for country’s Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates in first vote held in battle torn republic], 1952 (1721.2005)

Robert Capa (1913-1954), [Lines of people waiting to vote in the presidential election, Mexico City], July 7, 1940 (2857.1992)

James Nachtwey, Voting lines, San Salvador, March 1982 (425.2005)

Kevin Barry McKiernan, Voting line, woman holds identity card, voting is mandatory, El Salvador, ca. 1980 (376.1988)

Robert Capa (1913-1954), [Man inserting paper ballot in ballot box, Italy], 1948 (2010.93.970)

Ken Heyman, [Voting in Virginia], 1958 (2013.107.28)

Today is election day in the United States.

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Weegee’s Cats

Weegee, “Firemen William Murawski and William Miller went to the rescue of this cat when it wedged itself between the walls of the buildings at 51 and 53 Barclay St.“, October 6, 1942 (15153.1993)

PM, October 6, 1942, p. 19

Weegee, [Policeman holding kittens rescued from fire, New York], March 2, 1943 (15155.1993)

PM, March 2, 1943, p. 16

Weegee, “Naked City”, 1945, pp. 60-61

The new-born kittens were rescued too… of course.
And not foregetting this pup. Weegee, “Naked City”, 1945, pp. 60-61

Weegee’s Cats in chronological order.

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Walker Evans

Walker Evans (1903-1975), [Woman in Cloche Hat and Pedestrians, Fulton Street, New York City], 1929 (344.1985)

Walker Evans (1903-1975), [“The Grand Man” Astrologer’s Sign],1934-35 (31.2002)

A pair of lesser-known, and perhaps appropriate, photos to commemorate the fact that Walker Evans was born on November 3, 1903 in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Día de Muertos

Sebastião Salgado, Day of the Dead in San Vicente, 1982 (2007.22.1)

This pair of photos, and about thirteen more, made during seven years of photographing in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru, helped Sebastião Salgado achieve a W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography in 1982. These photos and many more were published the work in the book, “The Other Americas.”

Sebastião Salgado, The outskirts of Guatemala City, Guatemala, 1978 (2007.22.13)

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