|Detroit Street Corner, 5-1965|
Now having said that......let me point out a few things about what I see now and a few assumptions if I may. I see 8 people clearly who contribute to the composition. Two gentlemen on the left are about to step off the curb to cross the street. An assumption can be made about why they are in this neighborhood seeing as how the Salvation Army Harbor Light Mission is near by. Since the shot was made late afternoon in the warm month of May and most everyone else is in light clothing, these two men have heavy coats on. My assumption here is that they are itinerants or locals down on their luck and may have all their possessions with them although I see only one man with a shoulder bag.
Next I see a guy hunkered down taking a smoke break possibly from his job nearby. Clean shaven, hair trimmed, a shine to his shoes and a crease on his pants. I think he knows the gentleman next to him. Maybe takes his break there often. The gentleman sitting on what looks to be a Bavarian Beer case turned on it's side seems to be selling something. A sidewalk vendor. I see an American flag on a stick and a tray of plants or flowers in front of him. His hat looks similar to those Salvation Army caps worn by the folks outside department stores with their red donation kettles. Is it coincidental that he is right there on that corner? Maybe.
The man crossing the street has left his suit jacket draped on the back of his office chair somewhere. In the mission possibly? Is he headed for the mail box to deposit a business related letter? Or is he on a dinner break because it is about that time of day and he will return to the office where his suit jacket awaits. The men loitering behind him may be just in time for their dinner break inside the mission only after, of course, attending a sermon. I know about this requirement from personal experience.
The two kids look to be just hanging out maybe waiting for someone to come out of the building that the man is entering. The late day shadows mirror the presence of seven of the main actors in this scenario.
I have no recollection of taking this specific shot. I do know what I was doing in this neighborhood not far from the downtown area of Detroit. But I have no memory of the immediate before and after. I do know I was "riding shotgun" that day shooting streetwalkers out the side window - those shots are on the same roll. And so we are stopped as commanded by the sign as are our actors. Since it's obvious the sun is setting in the West, the street is a North and South one. And I'm fairly certain it is Cass Ave.
I, of course, did not see any of this at the time. And the assumptions I just leveled are just that. I could say I "saw" something and instinct and impulse took over. I like this shot for it's unwillingness to explain -- it's openness to conjecture - mine and yours. These people share this split second in time but couldn't be more different from each other. They have that in common and will never know it ...... wait a minute!! I must stop now least I dig deeper into the bullshit I warned against above - if I haven't already.