Dave Glass, Veterans Day Parade, San Francisco, ca. 1974
One of the great photo laureates of San Francisco, Dave Glass has a portfolio that spans almost five decades; from the Fillmore during “redevelopment,” to the last major earthquake, and views of most of the hills in the city. Glass has Atget’s ability to capture scenes on the brink of significant change.
I asked Dave a few questions about this photograph.
How was the photograph made?
The photo was taken with a 1960’s vintage Minolta SR2 single reflex camera with a 50mm lens, Tri-X film, then developed and printed in my darkroom. This image was scanned from the original negative, then cropped to a square format (I shoot film in mostly medium format, so I like the square).
What do you remember about this parade, why were you there photographing it?
It was a typical Veterans Day parade in downtown San Francisco, except it was around the very end of the Viet Nam war era, so the photo may have been shot in 1974. I rarely get a good shot from a parade scene, but it was a transitional time in history and I was around the area with my camera hoping for an relevant photo opportunity. I was lucky to be positioned for a shot close enough to see the soldiers’ eyes and expressions. Photograph was shot on Market Street between 3rd and New Montgomery. The Palace Hotel can be seen in the background, where Enrico Caruso, the great opera singer, was sleeping when the great 1906 earthquake struck.
One of the stories passed down from the Vietnam war era is returning soldiers were treated with disrespect, especially by those against the war. Did you ever observe this in San Francisco, or at this particular parade?
In South East Asia, the Viet Nam war was called the American War. In the early stages of the war, the American soldiers were regarded as heroes protecting American interests and our freedom from communism, (sound familiar?) but after the press revealed the My Lai incident in 1969, the public turned against the war in general and the soldiers in particular with anger and disgust. By the time this photograph was taken around 1974, the war was nearing its end and the anger shifted to the politicians, I did not witness any hostility against the soldiers that day, only honor and respect.