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Small-town Americana


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Today I went with two good foto friends to the town of Crockett, CA, located where the Sacramento River reaches the San Francisco Bay. Its history goes back to the Spanish California rancheros. It became important as a Gold Rush port in the 1850s, with lots of shipping & a mill. The mill changed from grain to beet sugar, & later grew & prospered as a cane mill & shipping center for the C&H (California & Hawaii) Sugar Company. It's still a one-factory town dominated by the C&H mill.


My friend Henry is good at striking up conversations with local folks, & we met an engagingly talkative woman who told us about the old days & current hard times. Her family has lived there since 1888, & her mother was a sugar-cube packager back when this was hand-work. Now much of the old factory is empty, with broken windows. But the newer parts function efficiently with far fewer workers & lots of machines. (They don't stack sugar cubes by hand any more.) Our new friend explained that the old town was divided into neighborhoods of Italian, Irish, & Portugese workers; but now the workers have moved to tract houses some distance from the town. Our friend's companion had heard there were 37, or maybe it was 27, bars in Crockett in the old days. But there's just not much going on any more. The parks are nice & town has tried to go artsy-craftsy, with art galleries & studio spaces for rent. But that just didn't work out in the current economy.


The first shot shows a bit of the old port. Rising above it is a new bridge (& a labyrinth of freeway ramps) that cross the Carquinez Straits, connecting the Bay Area to Sacramento & points North. All this infrastructure bypasses the town, leaving it somewhere in the past.


The second shot shows an old worker's cottage - with a new car that displays unusual prosperity for the neighborhood.


And the third shot illustrates how the town is doing financially: many a storefront is for rent, like this one that tried to become a ceramics gallery & gift boutique.




M8u 21mm 2.8 Biogon

Edited by thompsonkirk
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I particularly like the middle image of the cottages with the detail woodwork. looks like they took pickets and hung them from the roof line?! hilarious. despite the lower economic conditions in town, that looks like a new car...probably a "cash for clunkers" car. i wish we hadn't gone on trash day tho. those blue trash cans were all over the place.

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Thank you John, Paul, & Virgil, for noticing & commenting.


John, I think Cash for Clunkers is a good explanation of that brand-new butr fairly small SUV.


Virgil, I realize now that the story really isn't complete: I should have found a vantge-point for a shot of the sugar mill itself, which belongs at the center of the story. A reason for a return visit.


PS: I should have mentioned that Vallejo, the larger town at the other end of the bridge, is the first California city forced by the recession into bankruptcy.



Edited by thompsonkirk
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