Here Be Dragons

Posted by jdg | Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I started this project a few weeks back as a way to use up some smaller leather scraps I had sitting around. I twisted them into dragon's teeth, tendrils, and horns and designed the dragon mask so the kids could see through the mouth (the lower jaw can be adjusted up and down).

Of course, when I finished the red dragon head, they fought over it. So I just had to make another. I used slightly heavier scraps for the second head, and liked the improved horns and tendrils but not the overall appearance (the blue one is a little more stiff and less lifelike, I think). Everything on both masks is leather but the lizard and shark taxidermy eyes. According to my kids, the red dragon breathes fire and the blue one breathes ice. They like to play some complicated variation of freeze tag/capture the flag that involves hiding baby dragons and getting into lots of arguments.

Now my wife insists that whenever she walks into a room I announce her with a string of titles, including "Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Tolerator of Goofball Husbands and the Mother of Dragons."

Kids at the Jeffries Projects, 1953

Posted by jdg | Thursday, July 18, 2013

Several readers have sent me links to this great image taken forty years ago in a Detroit suburb. It reminded me of a picture from my personal collection of old press images (found at a local book store). A cropped version of this image appeared in the Detroit News sixty years ago (September 13, 1953), accompanying a story on the Jeffries Housing Projects in Detroit:

Unlike the lovely candid photo linked above, this one appears posed. But that makes it even more interesting to me. This was a full ten years before the March on Washington and MLK's "I have a Dream" speech (". . .one day. . .little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."). The kids may have been chosen to represent the different races and ethnicities living in the new housing project. The children aren't just standing there: they are each mid-step, moving forward. There is a powerful idealism in this photo, a bit unexpected for 1953. It has always haunted me.

The kids are identified on the back, from the left, as Reginald Dozier, Tommy Gairick, Joanne GraƱio, and Susanne Delangy. The photographer was Peter MacGregor. The Jeffries projects were mostly demolished between 2001 and 2008.