Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Europe, 1957

I mentioned that while I was in Florida, I scanned some of my dad's old photos from a trip he took to Europe in 1957. These pictures are amazing -- a real time capsule and photographically impressive to boot. My dad has a great eye!

He was 20 years old, and traveling with three friends. They drove cross-country in a Volkswagen from California -- where he grew up -- to New York, where they boarded an inexpensive freighter bound for Europe. They slept in hammocks somewhere in the bowels of the ship, and when they arrived in England, they began a journey that took them to Scotland, France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

They stayed in hostels or camped out -- once running afoul of the police in Germany when they tried to camp in the woods. (They were rescued by a friendly German woman who stuck up for them, and then fed them.) They drove a little rented Citroen and ate as cheaply as they could.

Dad has two trays of slides from the trip, but I only scanned about 30 photos -- mainly those featuring people, cars and fashions of the era, like this shot of a little girl feeding pigeons in the Piazza San Marco in Venice, and the top photo of Vatican City.

It's hard to imagine now, but Dad was there only 12 years after the end of World War II. He said war damage was evident in some cities, with massive rebuilding and modernization projects replacing the rubble. The face of every adult in his pictures makes me wonder what that person saw, and lived through, in the years prior. Dad also photographed a new generation of Europeans too young to have seen the war, like this child in France coming home with the day's baguette.

He saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, which doesn't look a whole lot different these days, except the palace itself is cleaner and the tourists don't dress as well. It's amazing to think he was there just five years after Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne!

If you're interested in checking out the rest of the scanned photos from this trip, you can see them here.


  1. Wow. Those are fantastic! I am so glad that you were able to scan and share them, Steve -- and I find it fascinating that you both have similar eyes.

  2. They were Beatniks, sort of, weren't they? They were ON THE ROAD! How wonderful that you have these pictures, that you can move them into the technology of today. When these pictures were taken, they could never have believed that one day, complete strangers would be marveling over them via a form of communication not even dreamed of except in Science Fiction.
    The German woman and her little boys reminds me of Lily and her boys.
    Dang. Your daddy was a hipster.

  3. Wow, Steve, what a treat for me this morning. Those photos are fantastic. I'll have to look at them again when I'm home from work. I can't get over how dressed up all the tourists are. I can't imagine traveling with all dresses, coats and hats and heels. The one place in the photos that looks exactly the same today is St. Mark's Square in Venice. Not much has changed there. It was surprising to see those cars parked all the way around that fountain in front of St. Peter's in Rome. I have a photo of a seagull sitting on top of that fountain that I took two years ago and that areas is all pedestrian now. Thanks for posting these, they are a pleasure to see and as you said to think about.

  4. a different era indeed. all the women are wearing dresses or skirts.

  5. such a cool Dad! The photos are wonderful.

  6. such a cool Dad! The photos are wonderful.

  7. Wow, Steve, these are incredible! That first shot looks like it should be a postcard. Has your dad always done photography? It IS like a time capsule, and frankly, I want to go back! I would not mind dressing like that, so classy. However, I am NOT June Cleaver!
    Show us more, please! Love the little guy with his daily baguette too ...

    Just wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing.