52 Chapters
Medium 9781574416565

Landscape

Byrd M. Williams IV University of North Texas Press ePub

Self portrait on college notebook, Austin, Texas. BYRD II 1903

“The edge of the photograph dissects familiar forms, and shows the unfamiliar fragment. It creates the shapes that surround objects. The photographer edits the meanings and patterns of the world through an imaginary frame. This frame is the beginning of this picture's geometry. It is to the photograph as the cushion is to the billiard table.”

–JOHN SZARKOWSKI

Byrd Williams II began to photograph the landscape around the turn of the century. When he finished his bachelor's degree in Austin, he took a number of survey and construction projects around the west in search of permanent employment. This could entail any number of duties from drafting to site photography of project progress. During this period he voraciously photographed the American landscape with an eye for visual starkness and geometric efficiency.

Letter From Mary Alice Williams to her son Byrd II

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19 Going Home

Malcolm L. Fleming Indiana University Press ePub

Billeted for a week in an old tobacco factory, we were processed by the old 3rd Repl Depot preparatory to going home. Same outfit, but with greatly changed tactics since the days they were supplying replacements for battle loss.

Final inspection is complete, and now with bulging bags we’re waiting by the numbers for trucks.

Marburg, Ger—13 Oct ’45

Handful of doughnuts and canteen cup of hot coffee—the invariable Red Cross handout, but a good sendoff before a rough two nights and a day on a boxcar.

Marburg, Ger—13 Oct ’45

Cattle-class accommodations, Marburg to Antwerp. Not actually the famed “40 (men) and 8 (horses)” of World War I, but no more comfortable for 24 men to ride and sleep in.

Antwerp, Bel.—15 Oct ’45

One of the seven theaters at this staging area running continuous showings all afternoon and evening. Nothing but a glorified quonset hut, but right appealing to the GIs because somebody’s bothered to name it the Roxy and run shows often enough to eliminate standing in long lines.

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18 Entertainment and Rest

Malcolm L. Fleming Indiana University Press ePub

The whole USO troupe out for the finale number. The stage was especially built for this show, the usual showplace being inadequate for the expected crowd.

Regensburg, Ger—5 August ’45

Bob Hope is busy autographing. He seemed tired to me, but got his usual barrel of laughs from the fellows.

Regensburg, Ger—5 August ’45

Full house of GIs at the evening circus performance. An afternoon show is given for civilians, but they think it rather third rate because many performers are not German. The fellows, though, keenly enjoyed it all. As with most of the acts this one is a family, the Burketts. It’s a contortionist stunt known as the Elastic Act. The father, negro, and mother, white, are shown here holding their heavily tanned daughter split between. The daughter inspired many a GI whistle.

Gotha, Ger—24 June ’45

One of the formidably enclosed courtyards in the Oberhaus. The moat and bridge approach to this part appear on the left. Once a Roman fortress, the place recently was a favorite partying spot for Hitler until the US Army took over and converted it into a rest area for GIs. I enjoyed some rest time here.

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15 Reminders of the Past

Malcolm L. Fleming Indiana University Press ePub

Outside of the Adolf Hitler Sportsplatz looking rather bare without the great gilt swastika framed in oak leaves that topped its center.

Nürnberg, Ger—8 July ’45

One side of the huge open amphitheater that was one of the foremost prewar Nazi Party meeting places. Now renamed Soldiers Field and used for the GI Olympics and 3d Army baseball finals.

Nürnberg, Ger—8 July ’45

GIs relax in courtyard of the castle Wachsenburg. Though originally built in 933 AD by monks, this castle has been restored several times and is now the official Museum of German Wars—1600 thru World War I.

Near Gotha, Ger—9 June ’45

Strictly candid. I’m perched on the wall of a tower getting a nice all-over shot of castle towers. ’Twas one of the Drei Gleichen. Lt. Rosenmann is holding the tripod in place. Another guy was holding me for awhile.

Near Gotha, Ger—9 June ’45

Lt. Rosenmann and me view the ruins of Burg Gleichen from atop one of its towers. This castle was built in the 1000s. The best preserved part is the eerie network of underground passages and dungeons.

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Night

Byrd M. Williams IV University of North Texas Press ePub

WHEN I WAS A KID MY FRIENDS AND I WOULD HANG OUT on the street corners at night under the mercury vapor lights that provided a 200-foot circle of pasty illumination. If one of us had a paper route with the Fort Worth Press or Star Telegram, we were allowed to remain until sunrise when the newspapers had to be rolled and thrown to neighborhood subscribers. Our parents were more than happy to encourage our entrepreneurial spirit, inadvertently handing us the key to the city…at night.

For a twelve-year-old, it was one's first taste of unencumbered freedom. The summer sidewalks were still warm but the breeze was cool and no authority what-so-ever was in sight. Of course there was a bit of early ‘60s mischief, but for the most part, it was just fun being there.

I continued to roam the city at night for the rest of my life, as did my Dad. We never talked about the source of our fascination with gloomy urban spaces, but I know mine and can guess his. Cities are lit like movie sets.

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