A Beautiful Life

My nostalgia for Kodachrome 1950s and 1960s American has been well documented. Not too long ago I discovered this man’s flickr photostream and was completely taken aback, so here we go again. The photos document (in great detail) a family and their various trips throughout the American West hunting, fishing, riding bicycles. And all in quintessential 1950s/1960s clothing – plaid shirts, dark denim, white tee shirts and Chuck Taylor sneakers. Inspiration abounds below.


















All photos and video via Aroid’s Flickr.

Comments on “A Beautiful Life

    A Treasury of on August 11, 2009 11:11 AM:


    That guy’s mustard colored felt hat – wow!

    What with camera phones and the digital revolution people take more photos today, which is good, but I think they take less lovely ones than in the Kodachrome and film days. It’s sorta shame.

    JP on August 11, 2009 11:15 AM:

    Holy smokes. We were definitely born too late, my friend.


    MT on August 11, 2009 11:33 AM:

    These pictures are perfect — exactly the way I wish life was. I have this romantic, unrealistic idea of the world that paints it to look just as it does in these photos. I know it can’t happen, but I refuse to let it go.

    Ben Bowers on August 11, 2009 12:12 PM:

    That was Americana at it’s best. I was out West in Montana not too long ago, flipping through my dad’s childhood photos which look very similar. Life in these times oozed with the American dream. It’s a shame how mass media and technology now over shadow summers outside, cross country road trips, and yearning for exploration. I wonder if we’ll ever get it back.

    Jon Gaffney on August 11, 2009 12:15 PM:

    Digital just doesn’t have that same essence.

    Michael Williams on August 11, 2009 12:17 PM:

    Look Mom no logos!


    PreppyPauper on August 11, 2009 12:19 PM:

    What a wonderful document of a golden era in America’s history. You can see the family enjoying the country’s rural bounty at a time of unlimited optimism. As for the clothes and accessories (I’m even digging the eye glasses), you could plunk it all down in the J.Crew liquor store in Tribeca and everything would sell!

    wayne pate on August 11, 2009 12:25 PM:

    History may repeat it’s self but it can never relive it’s self.

    dandy on August 11, 2009 12:25 PM:

    Fantastic Yosemite mile marker!

    wayne pate on August 11, 2009 12:28 PM:

    Michael, I don’t mean to be a smart ass but are you certain those are Chuck’s or are you generalizing. I’m not familiar with Chuck’s of this time frame so they very well could be.

    Michael Williams on August 11, 2009 12:30 PM:

    I was just generalizing. They don’t really look like Chuck Taylors actually. A lot of shoes probably looked that way during that time. —ACL

    Thom on August 11, 2009 12:38 PM:

    Wow. Brilliant.

    Greg D on August 11, 2009 12:51 PM:

    Great f***ing post man!

    With our never ending quest for more, we missed what we already had.

    jack on August 11, 2009 1:07 PM:

    americana defined. you know how to pick em’ ACL.

    Josh Money on August 11, 2009 1:10 PM:

    Photo #6 is priceless. The classic American iron with white walls and bullet grill. Rolling green hills of undeveloped land. Fence posts that were probably planted in the 1800s. Three brothers, one supervising, one doing, one learning. Kids with about 5% body fat. Flat tops, white tees, cuffed denim with Chucks. Muzzles in a safe direction. No doubt a proud Father behind the camera. Nice find. $

    j 4 president on August 11, 2009 2:08 PM:

    Agreed. Really a top notch post. Thanks!

    brooklynboy on August 11, 2009 2:23 PM:

    Photo #6 is priceless. I could not agree more with Josh Money. If I could I would get a copy of this photo and blow it up and frame it. Simply awesome.

    Michael Williams on August 11, 2009 2:29 PM:

    If you want a copy I would email the owner of the images through Flickr and ask him. He might be willing to do it for a price. —ACL

    don weir on August 11, 2009 2:34 PM:

    i’m pretty sure that rusted out bike the kid is riding is a columbia newsboy special. i just scored one in monroe, la a few weeks ago. love this post.

    Michael Williams on August 11, 2009 2:43 PM:
    Steven Taffel on August 11, 2009 3:11 PM:

    I think I recognized myself in one of the shots, I also like the boots on the young boy who is holding the stick, and jar in the driveway.

    Chris Brown on August 11, 2009 3:54 PM:

    The last image is very “Leave it to Beaver”. Cool.

    David Jeter on August 11, 2009 3:59 PM:

    I just drove 4,700 miles from Mystic, Ct to L.A. home with my wife and two boys. Mainly on two lane highways. It’s still out there, you just have to go find it.
    You can still see these pictures, if only in your mind’s eye.
    By the way, Abbott’s was a huge tip right before my trip.

    don weir on August 11, 2009 4:10 PM:

    It’s definitely still out there, it’s just not as pristine. The roads and stores and signs and people are all falling apart. Sad and beautiful all at once. I just hope some of the American relics remain on those roads another fifty years down the road.

    David Jeter on August 11, 2009 4:16 PM:

    Yes, sad and beautiful at times. I travel around the world with my work and it had been a long time since I had seen those roads and I have to say with all that has gone on in America in the last year or so, it gave me a great sense of hope and shear awe of the potential of this country. { tiny patriotic tear}.

    susan on August 11, 2009 5:55 PM:

    very nice. thank you.

    R4 on August 11, 2009 8:47 PM:

    Letting out the central pleat stitches on the Levi’s 506xx! tough stuff, the shoes could be ball Band’s….which would seem pretty era specific etc.

    Wjletch on August 12, 2009 12:21 AM:

    Just thought that this was relevant. I was looking into buying some discontinued Kodachrome recently, and inadvertently found this site with some wartime photos. I enjoyed them, and thought you all would too…

    P.S. Totally not trying to hijack your post.


    Michael Williams on August 12, 2009 1:50 AM:
    Louie on August 12, 2009 3:15 AM:

    I have to say, these are some damn nice photographs. There is nothing in them aesthetically that I can argue with. I just think that to equate these images with a certain sentiment about hope in American history is to essentialize our heritage. There is nothing in a set of images like this that tells us anything about a golden age in America. It’s a set of subjective images that make us wax romantic about a time that might have never been. Who really knows this family and who lived on the poorer side of town, wherever they might have lived? For every happy story there is in this country, there is another one that is just as sad.

    newgrass on August 12, 2009 4:18 AM:

    Those pictures are gold. Genius find. Thank for sharing the link as well!

    John Oen Eiden on August 12, 2009 5:14 AM:

    When I look at these pictures—I grew up just like this and can remember the good –bad . Economy was not all that great after WW2 and older parents still held on to the experience of the depression they grew up with their parents in the mid and late 30’s. Then when you had to live during the WAR TIME with books and allowed so much for the and that. It was not all that great and as the pictures look like WOW. Yes wonderful times when you car had to be maintained in your driveway, garage or under a pepper tree. Then oh yes what if you did not have the parts. Times were still very hard and difficult and it was not fishing for the fun of it, camping because it was so much fun. You did those things because it was a cheap way out. When you went to the store it was the basic products. Relaxation was a lb of coffee and a carton of cigarettes. You sat outside and looked at the sky and would dream of the better life. You hung sheets which you would spray with the water house and hang that over your windows and pray for a breeze. No air conditioning in the cars. you open all the windows and maybe hung your head outside. When you went somewhere you came home sweating and took a BATH on sundays only. Septic Tanks were expense to maintain.
    Then you cut alot of wood and pray to God you had enough for the winter season. When you cooked meals—your ate everything on your plate or had it for breakfast–reflection of difficult times. Your worn the same blue jeans with patchs along with your socks being mended for months and maybe years. You saved everything and I mean everything. If you torn down a building you pulled the nails out and spent the time getting them ready to reuse. You did not fill up the trash can without of waste because you pigged out and could not eat anymore.,

    No these Pictures are reflections of some very difficult and hard times. Health care?. If you could afford an operation for things otherwise you would work until you died and that for the most part was around 45 to 55 years of age. Did not have alot people living into the 80’s unless they were farmers

    So going back as people do—Lets be really fair and talk about how it really was. Stories sound like fun. Cash for clunkers—- Those Clunkers would have been like gold to the majority of people.

    Thanks for you time

    dewy wilkins on August 12, 2009 8:52 AM:

    great stuff.
    thought you might like this:

    Strong Kent Wythe on August 12, 2009 9:20 AM:


    rob on August 12, 2009 9:37 AM:

    These pics are mixed with emotion. On an artistic level they are undeniably beautiful and capture the grisle of that era in the film grain and hues, but there is obviously an alternative history of repression to many who were on the outside of society looking in: various ethnic and racial minorities, gays, artists, leftists etc.

    Josh Money on August 12, 2009 10:15 AM:

    @John Oen Eiden, sounds like you are all prepared for the times that are a coming.

    Stef on August 12, 2009 10:16 AM:

    this is truly amazing! thanks for sharing.

    jasper adams on August 12, 2009 1:09 PM:

    Wow, great pics…

    I don’t know about living in these times though friends, les we forget these were rough times! I mean if you lived or looked like these people in the pics then yes, life was beautiful. But if you didn’t live or look like these people, meaning living in the major cities or skin color was different, then it wasn’t that wonderful…

    but the cool thing about these times is that even the folks and families that lived with less and downright poverty, even had a really cool style!!!
    great pics friend!!!

    geoffrey cecil on August 12, 2009 1:44 PM:

    great find, great set. more than just cool style, these photos remind us that when form follows function, great things often happen. what a discovery it is when we find simple beauty in the utilitarian!

    tristan on August 12, 2009 3:13 PM:

    this epitomizes your blog.
    this epitomizes the american dream.
    this is photography.
    best post i’ve seen anywhere in a long time.

    Dave on August 12, 2009 5:55 PM:

    Out of control!

    Beautiful and inspiring images.

    Kids played and still looked cool.

    WOW have things changed.
    If you want to see how the American family dressed today……go to Disney World.


    a35mmlife on August 13, 2009 11:36 AM:

    This stuff is hauntingly beautiful. vividly bitter sweet.

    dave from london on August 13, 2009 12:43 PM:

    Winston Churchill once said…….”people prefer the past than the present and they prefer the present to the future ” (or something very like that !)

    where does ACL and the rest of you guys stand on that one ?

    Alexander on August 13, 2009 12:47 PM:

    Long live film! Is that the son of jhonny of the black rebels in that last photo?

    Eric Channing Brewer on August 13, 2009 2:26 PM:

    I really enjoyed looking at these images. Anyone who likes these pictures and is in the Metropolitan Washington D.C. area should check out the National Geographic’s exhibit: “Kodachome Culture: The American Tourist in Europe.” and the William Eggleston exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art for a moody contrast not in Kodachrome but in the equally appealing color dye transfer printing method.

    I’m an African American Male and I have issues with any purely romanticist view of any past or present era. Finding beauty in these photos does not necessarily preclude one from the ability to objectively consider the complexity of social issues and economic dynamics of the era.

    I’m not trying to go back to that era but I love to handpick aspects and things from past eras and make it a part of my life. I’m a city guy and these photos make me want to leave my blackberry at home and drive west to go camping while looking cool doing it. Thanks for sharing Michael.

    e on August 13, 2009 6:49 PM:

    Great photos, but I wanted to echo John Oen Eiden and Eric Channing Brewer. I’m also a good ol’ American black guy, from a family of farmers in rural Virginia. The stories I hear about the past are somewhat romantic, but mostly depressing due to the way anyone “nonwhite” was treated in those days. It’s really easy to get caught up in “Americana” without thinking about the unpretty parts. People of all stripes ere extremely active (because they had to be), entertained themselves (because there wasn’t anything else), and usually died young and fairly uneducated. I yearn for the simplicity but…I’m just fine living in today’s world being able to appreciate what came before.

    deisgnerman on August 14, 2009 2:01 AM:

    one of the many compelling things about pictures from this period and before is the spareness of the environment . there were far fewer people back then-less cars, advertising, logos, disposable plastic bottles etc.

    it’s really noticeable in photo 3-signs are smaller, and every inch isn’t filled with information…compare that photo with a picture of a gas station with restaurants in the background now and it would probably be pretty startling.

    Eric Channing Brewer on August 14, 2009 10:56 AM:

    Interesting idea deisgnerman. I think that however in some areas, there might currently be less image and information explosion due to surburban planning.

    See this eggleston photo. It seems to be from the lates 60’s or early 70’s

    Seth Miller on August 14, 2009 11:03 AM:

    Wow!! Truly amazing pictures. I never comment on these type of sites but I just had to say thank you for sharing these. Absolutely fantastic.

    israel on August 18, 2009 4:37 PM:

    que buen documento de la america de 50,60 años fielmente, registrada en la pelicula stand by me

    Quentin on August 21, 2009 10:18 PM:

    just a good reminder how every thing comes back. Another reason Polo has been so succesful is trying to capture these moments

    Harold & Zooey on August 23, 2009 7:20 PM:

    I want to leave this family.

Comments are closed.