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Vintage photos of:
As far as I know, this is a photo of the crew at the Blacksmith Shops for the Southern Pacific Railroad in Oakland, California. My grandfather (front and center with the rakishly tilted hat) worked for the railroad for some small portion of his life. His draft card for World War I listed him at the railroad in the blacksmith shop. By the '30's, he'd started a laundry business elsewhere in Oakland.
He'd emigrated from the Azore Islands to California in around 1915, following other brothers and sisters who'd already left the impoverished islands for the opportunity of the United States. I can't imagine he was too many years off the boat when this photo was taken, a new immigrant settling into life in California.
I've always liked this, both as a cool posed shot of an industrial shop and by the tools of the trade each worker carries (especially the welder to the far left). Unlike all the school photos that got saved, it's like every guy in the photo has some emotion on his face, and some story behind it. Why's the big guy at the right side in the front row look like a superhero, so sure and happy? What's the Richard Gere look-alike (the welder) thinking? What's the guy second from the left in the front row staring at off in the distance? View full size.