Thanks to my friend Frances for her long and informative blog post on the Chicago phenomenon of the vertical wooden back porch and stairs. When I saw this picture I thought of it.
It is from a beautiful book that is a collection of photographs by Wayne F. Miller taken on the South Side of Chicago between 1946 and 1948 that capture the life of the city and its denizens at that particular post-war moment.
I love the cop in uniform with the cigar.
And the blind street musician playing his portable piano with gloves on. I don't know if this is Blind John Davis, but I saw him play once at ChicagoFest in the early 1980's and he was amazing.
I can imagine that Wayne's great composition here of blues musicians at the open air Maxwell Street market on a Sunday morning might have been an early inspiration for the work of my sister's one-time close companion D. Shigley, who passed away many years ago, but also extensively photographed the Chicago blues scene, back when Maxwell street, and D., were still alive and kicking.
Thanks to Wayne Miller for foraging into this world with his camera and intrepid eye and preserving these images of this time and place for us.
Or, as the great Gordon Parks puts it in his introduction "Wayne went to wherever his conscience called him, and his camera's eye baptized whatever confronted him. Earthbound and free of any shadowy miscellany, he made contact with the roots. And as no one can stop the waters flowing, neither can one eliminate his powerful images from our past. They will still be here with us, even if those tenements crumble in time, exhausted."