Saturday, July 10, 2010

George and Agnes

Back in the 1970s when I acquired my first house I had neighbors, George and Agnes, who had bought theirs as newlyweds in 1926 or so, raised a daughter, and lived pretty contentedly from the first. George had a bum leg, courtesy of a woman who thought she had put the car in reverse gear and was as much surprised as he when it jumped forward and hit him. He once told me that the lane out front had been a dirt track when he moved in and most folks then kept a backyard coop for the chickens that made their breakfast eggs. I liked that he kept his house in good condition with little or no inclination to modernize. Agnes was tiny and made jokes about her small stature. The pair were good neighbors and we did watch out for each other. When he died she gave me some of his old tools and hoardings of the kinds of things — bolts, screws, nails, and rivets — that homeowners tend to keep around.

Before he retired, George worked for the Geological Survey, USGS, as a map engraver. These photos from collections of the Library of Congress show his place of work back in the late 1930s and the young guy in the first of them seems to be about the same age as he was back then.

{Geological Survey, Interior Dept. Washington, D.C., Mar. 13. Horace Johnson engraving one of the copper plates that is used for a topographical map, 13 March 1937; Harris & Ewing photographer}

{Geological Survey. Washington, D.C., Mar. 13, 1937. Lithographic draftsmen correcting the printing plates; Harris & Ewing photographer}

{Geological Survey. Washington, D.C., March 13, 1937. Albert Pike using a stereoscope on a pair of photographs to bring out the relief and locate objects for a map; Harris & Ewing photographer}

{Geological Survey. Washington, D.C., Mar. 13. The offset camera making and copying maps, charts, and diagrams. This is used to change the size and makes the different plates for the different colors used on the maps; Harris & Ewing photographer}

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