A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta. Clyde Waddell.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.
A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.

A Yank’s Memories of Calcutta.

Houston, Texas: [privately published], 1946. Oblong 4to album binding, black cloth over boards with aluminum screw fasteners at spine. 60 gelatin silver prints, 8” x 10.25”, mounted on beige leaves with printed captions.

A scarce and vivid photographic portrait of Calcutta as seen through the eyes of an American GI photojournalist from Texas at the close of World War II.

A member of the Houston Press before the war, Clyde Waddell served as personal photographer to Lord Mountbatten from 1943 to 1945. He then joined the newly-launched Phoenix Magazine and, according to M. Charles Preston, an “ex-enlisted man, former CBI’er and co-worker with the author,” Waddell got “in on the kill at Allied victories in Mandalay, the Arakan and Rangoon.” This book arose from his “dearly earned leave” during which, “like a sailor who spends his liberty rowing around Central Park Lake, Clyde began to take pictures…By the time he completed this project…Requests [had] became so numerous and response to the effort so enthusiastic that Waddell felt compelled to make the album more generally available through fellow ‘GI’ agents.”

The photographs are amply captioned, provide detail, orientation, and sometimes a rather sardonic western perspective. The second photograph displays the “Hooghly river and part of Calcutta’s east bank.” The caption notes that “But for this giant stream Calcutta would likely never have been built— and for that matter, many of us would just as soon it hadn’t. Nevertheless…” Besides these few elevated views of the city, however, the album contains a fascinating and rich assortment of street views and human interest subjects: a buffalo herd traversing the streets “guided by whim alone,” two men climbing through bus windows in order to secure seats, “ragged urchins…begging GI audiences to let their mangy monkeys dance the ‘American Jitterbug’ dance,” an elaborate Jain temple, a “Hindu wife [praying] to the God Siva for blessing of fertility,” Brahmins, families waiting in the dreary heat for trains, British and American GI’s buying souvenirs, smutty books, or deliberating their choice during “the out-of-bounds visit...[to the] dusky ladies of the night,” businessmen buying snacks from street vendors, and so on. “As a documentary of Calcutta,” Preston concludes his introduction, “it’s tops.”

The introductory text surrounds an illustration of “[t]he author…taking time out from photographic duties to try his hand at snake charming. The Indian fakir seems a trifle chagrined at having his act exposed. The cobras fangs had, of course, been removed.” With this image and its caption, Waddell, with his casually dangling cigarette, is positioned in relation to his western audience as the sure-handed guide, ready and able to draw back the unsettling curtain of rumor and debunk eastern mysteries.

The album is quite scarce, with only four copies recorded in OCLC. We have handled one other copy—on blue paper, rather than the beige paper found here.

CONDITION: Very good.

Item #4897

Price: $1,500.00

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