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Odd Lots

 Visual literacy is the process of examining a photograph for detail and then making inferences base on those details.  Does the photograph raise any questions?  My primary question is usually “Who is holding the camera?”  That question, if answered, may provide a great deal of context.  Another question might be “Is a particular event being photographed?”  Wedding photographs are usually very obvious.  “Who is in the photograph?” may present the most frustration if the photo isn’t labeled.  Tracking down someone who can do that identification can be extremely difficult depending on the age of the photograph. With that said, there are several photographs this week that grabbed my attention.

Photo by Mike Rawlings

These boots are an icon of ranch life in the West.  Obviously well-used and equipped with spurs, they represent a way of life that is disappearing.  Mike Rawlings, photographing for the now-defunct Vail Trail, shot this photo and others of cattle shipping day in Burns, Colorado, November 1989.  Local ranchers routinely shipped stock from Burns.  Kathy Heicher wrote the accompanying story.  I would love to know who was wearing those boots and, happily, Mike and Kathy are still available.  They might know.  At the entrance to Ski Cooper, Tennessee Pass, there   is a monument to the 10th Mountain Division, “In memory of our 990 comrades in arms who gave their lives on the World War II battlefields of Italy and Aleutian Islands.”  All 990 names are listed.  These men and those who returned were trained at Camp Hale, a few miles down the highway at Pando, Colorado.  Next to the monument stands a wooden flagpole painted white.  As the photographer, I wondered about the significance of the flagpole.  Accustomed to today’s metal flagpoles, it seemed to me almost fragile next to the solidarity of the monument. 

Flagpole at right background

 Happily, I was accompanied that day by a gentleman from the 10th Mountain Division who had trained at Camp Hale for those battles.  He informed me that the flagpole was the original one from the Camp, making it particularly appropriate for its location at the monument.

This portrait of true love (JJ, the burro, is definitely enamored of Dave) was taken on October 3, 2010, at the Avon Library.   Celebrating burros, the Library invited author, Lyn Bezek, to talk about her recently published book, On the Backs of Burros, while David TenEyck, director of the Leadville Boom Days Burro Race showed and talked about his three burros.  Dave has raced burros for 21 years and had answers for any and all questions.  Michelle Hall, a librarian at Avon and a burro racer, helped with burro snacks (carrots and apple slices) and with moving the animals around. The obvious affection JJ has for Dave raises the question of the relationship between burros and humans.  Lyn describes in her book, p.66, that relationship for the prospectors  in Colorado that first used burros.  She quotes John Cowan:  “The burro is the companion, friend, and half-brother of the prospector; the sharer of this tales and hardship, the partner of his joys, the helper in his success, the equal sufferer of his failures.” … “Many prospectors were able to train their burros to follow them without a rope, much like a dog will follow its master.”  In this instance, the photograph outdoes the text in describing that relationship.


What an awesome post! I had no idea that flagpole came from Camp Hale, and I love the burros!

Jaci, I'll say it again, you do great work. I know Chuck will be guite pleased with your write-up on the Camp Hale Flag Pole. Very appropriate for all who gave their lives for our Country. The Ski Trooper Monument at Vail is also a must see for everyone. Many Thanks P.S. What's the difference between a Mule (used by the 10Th Mountain Division) and Burro besides size? Many Thanks Len

Thanks, Len...this is such a fun part of the job. Jaci

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