Interview with Christina Paige Gardner
Interview with Christina Paige Gardner
Interview Date: March 16, 1992

Camera Rolls: 318:68-71
Sound Rolls: 318:35-37
Interview gathered as part of The Great Depression .
Produced by Blackside, Inc.
Housed at the Washington University Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
Editorial Notes:

Preferred citation:
Interview with Christina Paige Gardner , conducted by Blackside, Inc. on March 16, 1992, for The Great Depression . Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

These transcripts contain material that did not appear in the final program. Only text appearing in bold italics was used in the final version of The Great Depression.

*
INTERVIEW
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[camera roll 318:68] [sound roll 318:35] [slate marker visible on screen]
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QUESTION 1
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

See, this is not blue, it's green. I meant blue. OK, we ready?

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

This is Christina Paige Gardner, take one.

INTERVIEWER:

You knew Dorothea Lange pretty much since you were a child, give me a sense of how that relationship started.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

It really started because she, my mother first went to her as a customer in 1919 and that developed into a very deep friendship over the years. And then I had a separate friendship with her after I came down to Berkeley to college from our farm where we lived. We, I remember the first time I saw her very well. Do you want to hear about that?

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah, sure.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

She—

INTERVIEWER:

Start off again I wasn't  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ]  keep going.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

All right. I remember the first time I saw her very well because it was a big thing to my mother to have each of her children photographed when they were about two years old. And she loved this collection and she made a great effort to have us photographed at about the same age because she was conscious of the chronology of the thing too. So she was to have a sitting the winter that Dorothea got frozen in, snowed in, in Taos, which she has talked about extensively in her oral history.

INTERVIEWER:

Just look at the  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] 

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Do what? Oh OK. Anyway so she, she wrote my mother and said, never mind I will come up and photograph you, instead of photographing you in my San Francisco studio and in the garden there I will photograph your youngest child on your farm. And she came up on the train to visit us. And the reason I remember it is that we had never seen a woman smoke before. I was twelve at the time and I can remember, she wore, as her usual thing, she wore, always wore a beret and a pair of slacks, which was unusual in the Depression, and people, women weren't wearing slacks yet by that time. She was avant-garde there. And she, my mother, we lived in a very cold, very, very simple ranch house. It was always cold, the winds swept through the valley and my mother's idea of being hospitable to somebody is when they arrived she'd put them to bed for a little nap. So Dorothea went into this cold downstairs bedroom that we never used, it was just off of the one room that had a fireplace—it was the only heat in the house—and she was to relax while my mother was busy fixing supper for all the hired men and all the kids and so on. And so, here she was in bed with her beret on, smoking, and my cousin who happened to be there at the time and all of us little kids ran in, and I can remember it very well because we just lined up and viewed her smoking in bed. And she looked over at us, and she viewed us, and we viewed her, and we just stood there for quite a while, and then we all just left again. We didn't know what to make of this phenomenon, here was Dorothea. And then I also remember her from that trip. I was, I became interested in photography from that I'm sure because from then on I wanted to be a photographer. I had found an instant hero in the form of Dorothea, and the thing that I remember from that when I was twelve was that she was photographing inside the house. I had never encountered that before. And she was using a Roloflex and my mother talked ecstatically about the fact that all these years she had always wanted Dorothea to do a family portrait of all of us and Dorothea never would, but she did do one when she happened to find my father out on the approach to the barn, and the kids were around, and we all kind of crowded around him, and she, she photographed him, of the whole family there, and it's—that was 1932. She was documentarily [sic] inclined at the time and—

INTERVIEWER:

Even though she was a portrait photographer?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Well this was going to be a paid portrait, a paid session, but she also included the rest of the family in these photographs, there are various ones of us.

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QUESTION 2
INTERVIEWER:

Tell me a little bit about what you know about how her focus shifted, how she changed from being a society photographer to being a documentary photographer.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I did, since we lived remotely, I only heard about her shift, but to my knowledge, my mother used to talk about her and the work that she was doing. I don't know how she kept in touch with it except I think they, they sent each other notes from time to time and I still have a postcard that I found in my mothers effects—

INTERVIEWER:

Would you keep on looking towards me?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Yeah, I still have a postcard that my mother, that she sent to my mother announcing that she and Paul, something about, "When you read this Girdy dear, I will be Mrs. Paul S. Taylor and I'll tell you all about it when I see you." So I think that they kept in touch. My mother knew when she had gone into the field, my mother knew that she was in Taos, but I think that my mother was very aware of her career although I've never been quite sure how. And she used to talk about Dorothea to her friends because—you asked previously, was photography important in the '30s? Ron has a totally different view of it than I do. I think that people in the '30s really valued good photography because not everybody could do it as they can nowadays. Everybody can make a good photograph and everybody has seen so many good photographs that they, they are looking at different things nowadays. But then, it was sort of a heroic thing to be doing and I came from a family who valued their photographs, not just my mother, but my great grandmother. And I can remember sitting in, after my grandmother went home to the family home to live, I can remember part of the entertainment sometimes in the evening would be you'd get out your photographs of ships ashore, off the mouth of the Bear River, and wonderful photographs,  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ]  Erickson photographs and this kind of thing, and my mother treated Dorothea's photographs the same.

INTERVIEWER:

Let's talk a little bit about, you want to stop for a second?

[cut]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

You've got about seventy feet  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] .

INTERVIEWER:

OK, the crucial issue I'm grappling with is trying to understand who Dorothea Lange was, what kind of person was she? And you knew her very well. Can you, can you describer her, tell me about her qualities or what she was like as a human being?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I think that is almost impossible to do for any person much less anybody like Dorothea.

INTERVIEWER:

What qualities can you—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I knew her as more woman to woman in a way because I lived next door to her when my daughter was young. Dorothea found the place for us to rent when things were very scarce during the war. And I knew her as a photographer but I thought of her mostly as a friend. And I was interested in her kitchen arrangements, and I was interested in how she dealt with it when she saw that I was very unhappy with my husband, and I was, I was a protégé of hers in an emotional kind of a way almost you might say, but I never had the feeling that she quite approved of me. I was one of the ones that was close enough that I was treated like family, and so for anyone who was that close to her she had standards that nobody will ever rise to.

INTERVIEWER:

Well the irony to that too—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Yes—

INTERVIEWER:

—was that she was extremely strict with her family-

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Well, he said strict with her family but I didn't, I—

[roll out]
CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

That's so open to misinterp—

INTERVIEWER:

We're out? OK.

[slate][change to camera roll 318:69][change to sound roll 318:36]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

—so precious.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Leave them with Ron.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

I was wondering, well I'd like to take them down to a Xerox place and make some good colors because there are some Xerox and we can just sort of work with them if you want.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

All right, well, I don't have to be back at any particular time so—

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Let me do that then.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

All right, sure. I really brought the photograph of my father to ask him how to mount it because it has fallen off the mount.

INTERVIEWER:

We were trying to, trying to grapple with this idea of Dorothea's personality and what kind of person she was, and you said you didn't, didn't like the idea of, it doesn't make sense to say that she was strict with her kids, that it doesn't—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

No I think that that's open to a lot of misinterpretations.

INTERVIEWER:

So try and just leave that aside—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Forgetting her relationship to her kids, she didn't treat her kids I think any differently than how she treated Ron, and me, and several people who were her spiritual children or whatever. I don't know quite how to phrase it but it was, she had people that she was extraordinarily fond of, and she treated us as though we were an extension of herself. And she never, never felt that she ever quite measured up to her own mark I don't think in her lifetime. She never indicated that she thought that she had arrived at anywhere near the standard that she herself had set for herself, and I think that she certainly didn't think that we ever met that standard, but she was not mean about it. The meanest thing that she ever said about me was kind of a joke, and everybody laughed at it, and I enjoyed it at the time, too. When she went off to visit—she and Paul went to Hong Kong to visit my friend, my sister Frannie. What year was it? We could look that up.

INTERVIEWER:

Don't worry about it.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

OK, and she, Frannie, greeted her enthusiastically, "How's Chrissie, how is Chrissie?" "Well Chrissie has grown fat in mind and body," [laughs] and that's what she said about me, and it was true. But I—

INTERVIEWER:

Well, you know—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Other than a barbed tongue occasionally, and not really that bad a tongue, she was a, I felt that she was all-encompassingly sympathetic to other people. She knew that I was a frustrated photographer. It is interesting, it is very interesting to me to hear Ron talk about his, about his experience in the dark room with her because, although I spent hours in the dark room with her, she never allowed me to develop one single negative the whole I was with her. I don't know, she either thought that I was a bumbler or she couldn't quite delegate to me, or I don't know what there was about my relationship to her.

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QUESTION 3
INTERVIEWER:

Let's, let's talk a little bit more about living up to high standards.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Yes.

INTERVIEWER:

It reminds me of something I saw, I guess when she was photographing in Oakland during the war, there's a series of pictures where people are coming out of the market, shipyard workers, they're carrying groceries—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

That's in Richmond.

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah, in Richmond.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Or O—, oh yeah.

INTERVIEWER:

The comment is, "I keep on trying to get it and I can't get it." It's like she had set a goal for herself obviously that she wasn't realizing, but, you know something she was trying to do with the photograph.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

All the time I knew her she had, now calling it a theme is the wrong word too, she had groups of words that she would think up and they would in turn inspire her for a thought that she was trying to express on the silver emulsion. And one of them, one of them that comes to mind was the "The Walking Wounded." She would photograph in on subjects, broad subjects for which she would get grand titles. Sometimes she'd take them from newspapers as that was the phrase that came in during the war. Where it came from I don't know, it was part of her creative process about what she was doing, and I was with her a lot during that period when she was photographing these people. One that you might be thinking of is a bunch of people, is a woman walking across in front of a market in Utah, when she was on the Utah story, but what she would do, she'd have these, these subject matters within what she was working, and she would grab them when she saw them. She might have been on assignment for fortune that might not have had anything to do with that particular story that she was on, but she would recognize it when she saw it. And the one in tenth, at the tenth street market in Oakland, she was more or less impelled to look at and try and understand because during the war that was such a vital, that tenth street market was such a vital force of the whole picture of what happened to the Bay Area. There was a bar near there that would cash shipyard workers' checks twenty-four hours a day, and there were lines of people in front of that bar every, every week, or every Friday, whenever they got paid. And she, the concomitant of that was: did they buy groceries? Did they, what did they do with their money? How were these people living now that they had some money to spend? And she felt, she felt very close to those people because they were people she had been close to in the field way back in the '30s when she was working with Ron. So she had a, she had a, she had an insight which she maybe erroneously attributed to their past, but she had such a sympathy with it that it kind of showed on her. If people do have an aura it showed on Dorothea. Those people didn't ask her what she was doing anymore than they ever did when I was photographing with her. They, this strange quality of disappearing into the crowd and being, as she refers to herself, this quality of being able to make herself invisible, wasn't invisible exactly, it's just that there was no threat in her posture and it put forth an attitude of supreme confidence that this was a situation that was all right. And I find myself doing the same thing when I go by homeless on the street now. I, as I walk by I, I think that this is, this is, this is all right, this too passes. And Dorothea projected that. I don't know if I project it to people that I feel sorry for, but she did project it even though she had a camera. With her a camera was not a lethal weapon, with her a camera was not used the way photographers used it in any way, shape, or form. Well, as you know from talking to me, my life has been concerned with photographers, much of my life. With a brother-in-law on the photographers staff, and a mother who was so intensely interested in photography, I mean my mother commissioned portraits from Imogen and Dorothea, and Dorothea's photography was an extension of herself and she photographed because she had to photograph. She couldn't do anything else, she had to photograph. Sick, she had to keep photographing. She kept the camera hanging on a brass hook on her kitchen door, just inside of her kitchen door, and when she talked in Aspen to the container corporation of photographers seminar that was held, she urged everybody to do that. When she couldn't photograph, Ron doesn't it too. When he can't leave the house, he does it.

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QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:

Talk to me a little bit about, about those early war years. You worked with her during that time, you helped her on projects, and you talked a little bit about it in the open at the bar with the issue of trying, she was trying to understand people's lives, to explain how they lived. How did that work, what was, can you amplify on that a little more?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I think, you mean why did she want to explain how people lived?

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah, why? What was her interest? Why did she turn her camera on Oakland and Richmond during those years?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Possibly because she thought of Richmond as the city with the purple heart, or the—her talk to her husband, her awareness of what she read in the papers, her awareness of how we are as we are right now in our lives, how it is she would like to explain to people. And the salient quality about Dorothea is that she knew what she was looking at. She didn't fumble on the negative, she didn't fumble, she considered very carefully if she was choosing out a series to use for some purpose ,for instance a magazine article, but she, she was pretty darn sure about which thing she was going to retain and which she was going to let go.

INTERVIEWER:

Specifically, let's talk about Richmond in terms of how she would—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

OK.

INTERVIEWER:

—decide what was important to her.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

OK, well, what was important there was that she had an assignment with—

INTERVIEWER:

Start out with, "What was important in Richmond was..."

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

OK, what was important in Richmond was that she had, she had an assignment to do, to do just that, explain the city of Richmond during the war, with Ansel Adams. And they had been old friends, and they had worked together, and I went out on several occasions with them, and it was a great experience being out in the field with those two—boy, I mean those two solid photographers. And of course it was so different because that was a much easier assignment for her than it was for Ansel because he was not a documentarist, and she, it was an omenure[?] to her. She was much more sure of herself than he was. And—

INTERVIEWER:

But again, once she was in Richmond how would she decide well this is important, this is something that I've gotta do or—?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Well—

INTERVIEWER:

How would she make those decisions?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Her approach to a subject was to read quite a lot about it and understand quite a lot about it. She probably would have talked to the city manager and have gotten some thoughts in her mind about what are people doing to find accommodations in this city or what, what is actually happening in this city? And things were happening like hot beds were, beds were being rented for eight hour shifts, twenty-four hours a day in some of the rooming houses, and she would have had some knowledge of this, but she always told me that she didn't want to, she didn't want—

[roll out][slate][wild audio]
CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

—to learn so much of this that it precluded her looking at anything. She didn't want to come into a story with a preconceived notion. But she had to have enough of a knowledge of it that she—

[cut]
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QUESTION 5
[slate][change camera roll to 318:70]
INTERVIEWER:

You know when I heard that Dorothea Lange had photographed in Richmond during the war I, I automatically assumed that she was photographing people welding in shipyards.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Oh, no.

INTERVIEWER:

I went to look at her photographs and—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I don't think she ever went in to the shipyards. I tell you, Hansel Meith did however, she did a job for them inside the shipyards.

INTERVIEWER:

So Dorothea was more interested in people's—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Well—

INTERVIEWER:

Something else.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

She was showing, they were trying to show Richmond as the boomtown that it was. It was a literal boomtown and some of their captions as you know said that. Now her interest in it originally began probably because she was very close friends with a woman called Edie Katten who was married to a man who had a clothing store there. And, gosh, I have some notes for you on that one about what he said about those people. He was just a marvelous source of information about the sociology of Richmond because he, he, he made comments about here comes one now he will buy a black jacket with white buttons on it, and darn if the guy wouldn't do that when he came in. But all kinds of newly rich people were there and people were there for work clothes, boots, steel-toed boots, and maybe they were there with their first paycheck to buy clothes that they needed in the yards. And so it began with this small insight. The world was coming in that door and I remember hanging around there for at least half a day, and my assignment from her always was "Get that, get that, get that" if somebody said something that was a wonderfully turned phrase as people often do. She wanted it verbatim, she—

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QUESTION 6
INTERVIEWER:

Tell me about that, that concern for wanting the words—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Oh, she wanted, she absolutely wanted, absolutely, the very words that those people said and she had the quickest ear for it that I've ever known. I don't that, I'd have to write it down fast or I wouldn't get it at all, I wouldn't get it.

INTERVIEWER:

Well, why did you think that—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

She wanted it because she used it with her photographs, she used it for captioning material, it was, it's, you know, the spontaneity and the things that folks say to you are different from, from what you would think they would say. And they expressed themselves in these words and she had a strong feeling especially after the Depression because every caption in , the caption goes with the person who said it, punctiliously. And she was devastated because in the, what's his name, in whenever it was, '41 or '42 that ran some of her stuff, I think for an FSA section—I kind of forget what it was—they just used captions and put it with whatever photograph. They took some of her captions and put it with other photographs and she was devastated by that because she felt that this was a marriage. This was the truth in photography. She'd be horrified at digital photography now where you can do anything you want.

INTERVIEWER:

The truth had to do with the picture and the—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

The truth had to do with the picture and the words, and I think that that was a recurrent theme of hers for many years because my chief function was to jot it down, get at the notes, and then I'd spend hours with her, with Paul's little old portable typewriter. She should have had a word processor. She'd change and change and change. Every photograph of hers, every negative that got put on file in the government, had some kind of a caption saying when, where, who it was if she knew, or giving some information about the photograph because she felt that it wasn't usable in the future unless it had at least that much explanation with it. And I think she was right. I see a lot of stuff now that could use stuff. Now—

INTERVIEWER:

Can we stop for a second?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Yeah.

INTERVIEWER:

Stop for a second.

[cut][slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Ready, and mark.

INTERVIEWER:

Let's switch over to the—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

May we—

INTERVIEWER:

I'm sorry.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

—for a minute go back to how she got interested, how she would enter into a story. It was a hazard for her. She had a hard time going out into the field. Before the evacuation in particular, she would photograph and photograph around her house for days at a time. She did that oak tree out the dining room window and did it and did it and did it. And she said, "I have to check my equipment, I have to check that this is working, I have to do this," but she would say, "You know Chrissie I'm just putting it off. It's the hardest thing in the world to start a job." But once she got into it there was no, she just felt impelled into it. But she had, she always thought, she always thought in terms of what our contemporary life is at the moment that we are. And she was thinking about all these wartime characteristics of all these communities in this area. And she, she had inspired the young photographers who knew her, Homer was one of them. He emulated her in that he would get an idea and then he would go out and walk the streets looking for material and phot—do a lot of photographing. Lisette Model did it in New York City and all kinds of people did it as a technique.

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QUESTION 7
INTERVIEWER:

Let's, let's move on to—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

But they'd be—

INTERVIEWER:

You were talking about this other really important assignment.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Oh.

INTERVIEWER:

—that she helped you with, with the relocation—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

OK.

INTERVIEWER:

—and how she found that it compared to other assignments that she did, was it, was it particularly difficult for her to do that, do you think?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I think it was hell. I think—

INTERVIEWER:

Can you start off, can you just give me a sentence—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I think the—

INTERVIEWER:

I think photographing—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I think that photographing the evacuation was probably the toughest assignment that she had ever had, and my recollection is that she became quite—she began having her illness in the Spring of 1943. My daughter was born in January '43 and I can remember her talking about having a bellyache, and it got worse and worse as the years went on and all those—

INTERVIEWER:

Do you really believe that it could be some kind of—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Yes, I do. I think that she was, I think it was a cummul—an accumulation of various factors, that she had smoked so strongly as a younger wom—so heavily as a younger woman, and all the things you aren't supposed to do she had done. She had abused herself. Her vitality was so high that there wasn't such thing as abuse of it because her vitality just carried her, and it did through the rest of her illness and the rest of her life, but she was battling this illness for the rest of her life. And I think that all of the things she was supposed to have had, even the things that were misdiagnosed like the gall-bladder trouble for which she was operated the first time, were all stress related things. But I think it rather cumulated in the Japanese evacuation.

INTERVIEWER:

So what was the stress of that assignment?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

The stress of it was that she thought that we were entering a period of fascism and she thought that she was viewing the end of democracy as we know it. And she would, she, I think, I'm not sure when she had the most stresses with her teenage sons but I think it was about that time. I'm not sure about that, and she, I can remember in Woodland in particularly, in particular, one night when we had to stay overnight—those people departed by train—and she got, I went down to the lobby to type a letter or something and when I came back she was just in a paroxysm of worry about what was going to happen to these people. What was going to happen? Our government was doing this, and she saw it as a, she saw the greater fabric of how this entered into things in a way that very few people did at the time. I mean most people I know said, "Oh yeah I don't think it's very fair, but this is wartime, we're not going to cause a big ruckus now, this is wartime." Even people that I normally would have thought of as being fairly liberal-minded and decent to other people. It was dismissed as a minor factor in the whole picture of what was going on and in a way it was minor in that sense.

INTERVIEWER:

But—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Yes and no, to Dorothea it wasn't.

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QUESTION 8
INTERVIEWER:

The other part of the equation, I think you were saying before, is not only that she was disturbed about it, but normally when she was out like photographing the migrants she, she was helping them and they knew she was helping them. Here there was a real barrier to overcome as well wasn't there?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

No, there was no barrier to overcome.

INTERVIEWER:

Were people suspicious, and hostile, and difficult?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

No, yes and no. Everybody is. When somebody walks up and shoves a camera in your face, you either get suspicious, and hostile, and difficult, or—

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QUESTION 9
INTERVIEWER:

But she couldn't say, "Hi, I'm here from the government."

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Oh, yes she did, sure she could because it was the government, it was a government agency she was working for. It was—

INTERVIEWER:

War relocation.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Well it was, Milton Eisenhower had hired her, but yeah she had credentials. She could explain to them I believe that you are better off if we make a true picture of what is happening and keep it to show to people after the war. And she got a lot of, she got a lot of cooperation, but you have to understand what the Japanese people were like. They were not in a state of revolt, they were marvelous citizens. They were so marvelously, almost cooperative, partly because I suppose that you're desperate and you know you can't do anything about it, but they were such—as Dorothea used to point out, we don't hear, even the babies aren't crying. These people, once you said to them, it was harder to convince them that she should go into their homes or that she should photograph them on the streets because that was a person to person, but she had a lot of help with a young man from the Japanese Americans Citizen's League who was well known, particularly in San Francisco, and if he introduced her to people she could photograph old men playing their go game or whatever it was. And she, she had ways of protecting, telling people that, she was so believable. If you talked to her she was a little lady—

[roll out]
CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

—at that time with straight, short, gray hair.

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QUESTION 10
[slate][change to camera roll 318:71][sound roll 318:37]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Mark.

INTERVIEWER:

You were about to tell me that one of the things that you did with Dorothea during that period is you went into the fields when they were harvesting their last.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Oh yes, the broccoli fields in Hayward, and the fields were much closer to the town in those days, it was a small town, and that would have stemmed from her idea of showing all occupations.

INTERVIEWER:

Could you tell, could you just tell me, "I remember going into the fields when they harvested their last thing," because we don't know what you're talking about yet.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Oh, I remember going into the broccoli fields with her outside of Hayward, and photographing people cutting broccoli and throwing it onto the refrigerated cars. And she made an effort. She was well received there. Those people, partly on—

INTERVIEWER:

I'm sorry, can we cut for a second? I don't, I don't mean to—

[cut]
[missing figure]QN0LrKvxLsw
QUESTION 11
[slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Marker.

INTERVIEWER:

Hang on for a second.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I can remember—

INTERVIEWER:

Wait a minute, wait a minute. Let John get ready...John is ready.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I can remember going into the fields when the Japanese were harvesting their last crop of broccoli outside of the town of Hayward, it was a town in those days, and she tried to get a number of variations showing all of it. She wanted the city and the country and it was not hard to get people's cooperation because as I say she had this quality of honesty that walked with her, and she also had such a desire, she had, she was impelled with such a strong conviction that anybody would take this at face value. And what was, the subjects themselves didn't cause her a lot of problems, the MPs around the evacuation centers did, and that was a funny thing. When she, we never knew what it was in her id[?], but she always under terms of stress, always introduced me not as Mrs. Page, which was my name, but as Mrs. Bates. We never knew how that came up out of her, and I never had any credentials to go into any of these places with her. I mean, she'd arrive and she'd have cameras, and the MPs would swarm around her and she'd spend an hour or so while they checked her credentials. They never asked me for credentials and it's a good thing because she would always introduce me then as Mrs. Bates, and that wasn't my name. [laughs]

[missing figure]QN0LrKvxLsw
QUESTION 12
INTERVIEWER:

There's something else you mentioned the last time we talked that, again it's sort of, it's what you think, I mean no one said it, but you made a comparison between the Japanese being shipped out and wondering why the Jews didn't fight back in the concentration camps.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Oh that's my own personal—

INTERVIEWER:

Would you share that with us?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Well I have always wondered, I really have wondered why such large amounts of people will docilely walk towards a train, or a bus, or in a station—sure there are guys with guns around, but not that many and there are hundreds, sometimes thousands of people. What was it about people that they couldn't—I don't understand why some just didn't break out and maybe, I don't—a lot of it is retrospect because we know now how horrible it was in the Holocaust.

INTERVIEWER:

I guess you were telling me that the people seemed sort of dazed, like they really were—

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I thought they were, I thought they were and possibly that's—

INTERVIEWER:

Could you say, "I thought they were."

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I thought they were dazed, I thought they were stunned. After all, how would you feel if tomorrow somebody announced that you were leaving the country, your country that you live, and going 2,000 miles away to a concentration camp, and what would you do with your household effects, and what would you do with your land, what would you, who's going to take care of your cat when you left? The problems of closing out that many, totally closing out those households, it was as though you were dying, you were obliterating your life, and you had just a few weeks notice. And you didn't know what you were going into. It was just like the Jews who were, were apparently, their term has always been "rounded up," well that's exactly what the Japanese thing was. They were rounded up into groups of people and taken away by train and by bus, and pregnant women who were about to give birth, and I remember one woman being carried on board the bus because they thought, the MPs thought if they shook her up she'd give birth right then and there. It was a, it was a, it was a really ominous and low-lying state of terror that was overcoming everybody concerned with this. And I think that some of the soldiers that had to stand by and watch it too, they couldn't help themselves they were in the army. And it affected you. It was a, one reason it was so hard on Dorothea is it went on, and on, and on. She photographed the whole thing, and then she went to the relocation centers. I didn't go with her to Manzanar, but Ansel did.

[missing figure]QN0LrKvxLsw
QUESTION 13
INTERVIEWER:

Do you remember one day in San Francisco where she wasn't around?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Where she went where?

INTERVIEWER:

To the public school in Japantown where all the little kids were saluting the flag, do you remember that?

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

Yeah I was there, I was there. I have a negative from there because I would carry her extra camera and sometimes shoot—

INTERVIEWER:

Let's, let's load one more.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER #2:

Go another?

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER #2:

Doug—

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

We're still rolling.

INTERVIEWER:

Oh we're—I thought we were out, I'm sorry.

[cut][slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

You've got about sixty seconds.

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah, tell me about the day.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

I remember that photograph and—

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Hold on, let me get this squared away.

[missing figure]QN0LrKvxLsw
QUESTION 14
INTERVIEWER:

Well first of all, one last question on the evacuation. It sounds like it must have been a very strange mood that day when people actually got on the buses and on the trains.

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

It was terrible. It was, it was a, it was a—I can't describe it. In some places some few people came down to say goodbye, but not many. And once in a while, I mean people maybe would've come to drive their cars back or people who had bought their cars would be there, drive them to the station, and they were allowed only one small container I think for, of clothing to take with them. They weren't, it was undescribable [sic] to somebody who—you can hardly project yourself into what it was like. I don't feel that her photographing, I don't think those children were feeling it yet, whereas she was photographing in that school. And that was one of the photographs, that famous one from that series is one of the photographs that was, it was just happenstantial [sic], but it was Dorothea. She just attracted these things which was [sic] the epitome of the moment. The white child in the back who's looking a little half-witted because she happened to have her mouth open at the right time, and the fact that they were saluting the flag. Dorothea always got there bright and early, she wasn't going to miss any of the school day and so she was there for that. But she, she was so fast at getting it. I mean, any photographer worth his salt has the moment even before he sees it himself, and I think it's this instinct behind the camera that she, Dorothea and other people like her, dozens of photographers over the years from Otgay[?] on, or back, are—

INTERVIEWER:

During that period or just  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] -

CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

They just feel it, they feel it so fast, they see it so fast that they are responding before they even realize they are photographing that. And Dorothea very often I think would go back and look at her negatives—

[roll out]
CHRISTINA PAIGE GARDNER:

—and she would know—

[end of interview]