She intended to throw away thousands of photo negatives. “Who in their right mind would want these old car accident scenes?” she said. “I think they’re cool,” I said. Her face twisted and she gave me a disgusted look. She didn’t protest when I offered to take them home.
Some photos included injured drivers and passengers, some of whom took their final ride. But I wasn’t interested in the macabre. My curiosity was elsewhere. Who wouldn’t want to see a Studebaker with a crinkled fender, a Nash with a banged-in door, a battered 1940 Plymouth pickup truck, or a 1948 Oldsmobile that sideswiped a telephone pole? It was all about the cars, or so I thought.
The cars in the photographs are as cool as they come and the images, shot on 4”x5” black and white film, captured everything in stunning detail. What grabbed my attention were the signs of a different era and the human spirit on display. Passersby lending a hand at the accident scene, somber faces, surprised faces, the clothes, steam locomotives, overhead gas pumps at fuel stations long gone, utility poles loaded with wires, worn-out billboards advertising Zorn beer, a sign for the Glass House Restaurant in the background, and people who couldn’t help but pose and smile, regardless the severity of the accident behind them, when the cameraman held up his lens and the flash bulb popped.
That’s what drove me to create the photo book, “CAR CRASH: Historic photographs 1937 – 48.” Each one pulls you in to explore the scenery, soak in the details, decipher the mystery in each scene, and marvel at the art that exists in everyday life. Hopefully, others will spend as much time as I have pouring over these photographs.
CAR CRASH: Historic photographs 1937 – 48 is now available at www.blurb.com.