Monday, September 03, 2012
Interstates & Autobahns
Funny how digging around net can frequently trigger memories that mesh with some of your own experiences.
Upper left: The A4 - A555 German Autobahn exchange south of Köln photographed from the air by the Allies in 1945 right at the end of WWII. I recalled that Eisenhower and our fathers came home holding respect for what the Germans had built and vowed to upgrade our own highway system to match what they had seen during the war. The first Interstate Highway Bill dates to 1956 and construction of about 37,000 miles of new roadways started shortly later. I clearly recall my father talking about the German highway system after the war...he had spent some time aloft trying to destroy them.
Upper right: A 1953 shot of the Los Angeles intersection of the Harbor and Hollywood Freeways. This was a few years before the start of the Interstate system construction and only a few years after WWII, when there was very little build up of the Los Angeles basin area.
Lower center: My 1956-57 sixth grade class in Richland Hills. Note the chalk artwork on the blackboard at the back of the room--it's one of the highway interchanges we were then starting to build all over the country.
The teacher's name was Rhoda H. McGeHee and she was quite a teacher. She was one of only two 6th grade teachers at the time and she ran her class as a kind of open laboratory. There was no formal lesson presentation, as I recall...although I'm sure there must have been some. Her method was to let the kids determine where there own interests lay and set them out on a project in that field. The highway chalkboard project was one for our budding artists--I wasn't one of them ! However, the impression is timely, isn't it?
During and before those same early to mid-fifties years, Walt Disney broadcast his Sunday night shows and didn't we all wait anxiously to see what would be served up each week? I liked the cartoons...especially Scrooge McDuck, Donald, and Goofy. Motor Mania, a 1950 production, was one of my favorites and it shows Disney's impression of the growing highway situation in Los Angeles just at the beginning of the post WWII building boom. Texas wouldn't start their rush to build until sometime in the mid-1960s. So, we wouldn't learn how these things would clog our cities until some years later than LA.