Tag Archives: Photography

Whatnot – Week 17

The Neighborhood

I think I mentioned it long ago but I am fascinated with the suburbs and suburbia in general. Much of my childhood was spent in a motel, on a busy street in Hollywood. There was no neighborhood per se. Just a string of buildings crowded together. All day long the parade of cars and people gave me something to look at but I never had the suburban experience that I had seen on TV. Until my adult life, anyway.

The photo above was taken on my walk around the neighborhood. It’s well-established and a mix of old and new but mostly old. We have cul-de-sacs like the one depicted in this famous Bill Owens photo from his Suburbia collection:

Bill Owens, Fourth of July Block Party, 1972
Bill Owens, Fourth of July Block Party, 1972
Bill Owens, Street with Boy and Dog, 1999
Bill Owens, Street with Boy and Dog, 1999

And the photo above reminds me of the housing boom we’ve had. Houses everywhere. We lost the cul-de-sac at the end of our street due to expansion. They opened it up to improve traffic patterns after we got trapped during a brush fire evacuation. Now there is a lot more traffic on our street but our commute across town is cut down by quite a bit since we are able to access the main road now.

I just love to walk around the neighborhood and during this shutdown I’ve been doing it often. Before then, I never knew my neighbors, or their dogs. Now it’s like a social event every time the pup and I head out. I love to see what they are doing to their homes too because with the shutdown came a renewed focus on home improvement.

There is a section of homes that are all pastel colored and every time I walk by I think of Edward Scissorhands.

Pastel houses from Edward Scissorhands
Pastel houses from Edward Scissorhands

Not your typical “What Not” post today but thought I’d break it up a little. Later, I may attempt to stain two side tables because now they don’t match the new couches all that well. Debating if I should do white with distressed brown coming through or go dark, espresso brown. See what walking around the neighborhood does? It sparks creativity.

Do you have any DIY projects you are working on right now?

If you want to take a trip down memory lane, check out Bill Owens and his Suburbia collection. Such fun and interesting photos.

Review: Historic Photos of the Chinese in California

Historic Photos of the Chinese in California
Text and Captions by Hannah Clayborn
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Pub. Date: April 2009
ISBN-13: 9781596525191
Series: Historic Photos Series

The blurb from the publisher:

The Chinese were a visible current in the tidal wave of humanity that rushed through San Francisco’s Golden Gate in the mid-nineteenth century. Known to their countrymen as Gam Saan Haak (guests of Gold Mountain), Chinese immigrants sought great fortune. Most found only hostility and hard work, often braving the most dangerous and loathsome jobs. They endured violence and injustice, yet clung to this land with tenacity and patience and made it their own.

With nearly 200 historic photographs gathered from notable collections, this book explores a century of Chinese progress in California. Retracing the immigrants’ steps-from the gold fields to the high Sierra railroad camps, to lettuce fields and olive groves, and to the Monterey coast-we visit Chinese enclaves throughout the state. We linger in San Francisco’s old Chinatown, home to cherished children and notorious tong gangs, where new arrivals first found refuge and familiar goods, and tourists later found exotic merchandise spilling from aging storefronts. These historic images recall a time when the Chinese community in California was still a world apart.

The Short of It:

A well researched photographic journey of the Chinese in California beginning with the Gold Rush through the creation of the Chinatown that we’ve come to know today.

My Thoughts:

When I was younger, I was not much of a history buff. Textbooks back then left a lot to be desired and what was included never seemed to stick with me. I paid more attention to the pictures and the captions underneath them and if the photograph was particularly telling, then that is what stuck with me.

So when I was asked to review this book, I jumped at the chance. It’s filled with black white photos, some of which have been very well preserved and the captions for each, along with the chapter introductions really give the reader a feel for what the Chinese went through when they came to California.

One piece of information that I found especially interesting, is that after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the fire that resulted afterward, most of the vital statistics at City Hall were destroyed. That meant that the Chinese could claim U.S Citizenship and no one could prove any different. Many returned to China to bring back other members of their family.

Some of the photos that I found most appealing had to do with the quest for gold. My son mentioned that his history book from last year covered the Chinese in California. I was happy to hear that, because they weren’t included in any of the books from my childhood. The other photos that really caught my eye were the ones from the 1906 earthquake. The people seemed so calm yet it was a devastating event and one of the worst natural disasters ever. I also enjoyed the the western influence upon the subjects within the photos. The Levis, the very formal suits and ties. Going through the book was like sneaking a peek at the shoebox of photographs that your parents always kept hidden for safekeeping.

The book itself is pretty nice to look at. It’s the perfect size for your coffee table and contains nothing but black and white photos (which I love). I placed it on my coffee table after I read it, but it didn’t take long for the kids and Hub to start flipping through it. I figure that it’s a nice way for them to learn about history. I think it would also make a pretty nice gift for anyone that is into California history, the history of the Chinese or even photography for that matter.

Thanks to Laura Morris over at Turner Publishing for sending this book to me.