Friday, August 1st, 2008
My mother called a few days ago, opening the conversation with a breathless “I think I’ve found something that might interest you!”
She was right.
Her sister had recently gone through some papers belonging to my late grandfather Elmer Plett, a sober, hard-working dairy farmer who spent the majority of his adult life in the central valley town of Turlock.
Among piles of receipts and newspaper clippings my aunt discovered a mysterious item bearing the handwritten label “San Francisco picture, 1949″. Sure enough, nestled between protective cardboard sheets was a large, glossy, black and white aerial photograph of San Francisco.
The shot is spectacular, taken on an unusually clear winter day. The angle is unusual too, looking almost precisely north towards Mount Shasta — and according to the story of how the photo came to be taken (see below), that view of the distant volcano is what prompted the photographer to take to the air.
What we’re interested in, though, is the city in the foreground — captured in all its hat-wearing, freeway-building, pre-jet-age post-war glory. Take a look:
click image to view at full size