I came across this photo, titled Roth Service Station, Muscatine, Iowa, May 14, 1934, on a terrific site that features a great archive of photos of historical and sociological significance, These Americans. Well worth a visit.
I was immediately taken by this image. I loved the way it came together as a composition as well as the beautifully simple yet elegant design of the service station. It also made me think about that boy in his road racer, made me wonder if he was aware this image of his eternal youth was out there somewhere, floating in cyberspace.
He would have to be near 90 years old if he were still alive and would have a lifetime of experiences to place on that youthful face. But here he is always 11 or 12 or whatever age he was. There is no evidence of what might come of him except for that road racer in Iowa.
Maybe he ended up in Detroit, becoming one of those designers who brought us those wonderful cars in the post-war years of the 40’s and 50’s. That is, if he survived the war. He would have been about the right age when war broke out for us in late 1941, seven years after this photo.
Or maybe he didn’t even live to see the war. A tragic road racer accident? Who knows?
A photo like this is such an enigma, filled as it is with multitudes of possibilities with only a few people, if any, knowing the true story of that boy. I’m hoping he lived a long and calm, uneventful life, surviving the highs and lows we are all subject to in our passage through this world. Whatever the case, he lives on as young man in a road racer on a spring day in Iowa in 1934. Great photo..