Seattle Now & Then: Vicarious vacations, way back in 1953 & 1962

Readers, in tune with the theme of this week’s column, we encourage you to submit your own photos of early-day, treasured vacation moments. We’ll feature them on this blog and select several to appear in this column at summer’s end. Email them to VicariousVacationPix@gmail.com. As with our own vacation snaps, we’ll track down photographers from around the world to reshoot “Nows” of your “Then” vacations!

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(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN (Clay): Flanked by his parents Virginia and Henry, 2-1/2-year-old Clay Eals straddles a tourist “zonkey” circa Christmas 1953 and New Year’s Day 1954, likely on Avenida Revolución in Tijuana, Mexico. (Clay Eals collection)
NOW (Clay): Scott Koenig, a San Diego food blogger, graphic designer and marketing specialist who conducts “taco tours” in northern Mexico, poses with a “zonkey” in 2014 on Tijuana’s tourist boulevard, Avenida Revolución. Painting donkeys for tourist photos has declined due to animal-rights concerns. Koenig has been told they are out only on weekends, partly because of a COVID-induced drop in tourists. (Courtesy Scott Koenig)
THEN (Jean): Posing on the banks of Venice’s Grand Canal in 1962 are (from left) 5-year-old Jean Sherrard, his grandmother Dorothy Randal, brother Kael and mother Edith. In the distance is the Ponte degli Scalzi, one of only four bridges crossing the Grand Canal. The stone arch footbridge was completed in 1934. (Jean Sherrard collection)
NOW (Jean): Several staff members of the three-star Hotel Antiche Figure pose at the identical location on the Grand Canal. From left, Ecaterina Madan, Hana Bohusevich, Ivano Tagliapietra, Francesca Zambotto, and Majid Kokalay. Hotel Manager Alessandro Fornasier graciously offered to retake our “Now” photo, in which little seems to have changed. (Alessandro Fornasier)

Published in the Seattle Times online on July 1, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on July 4, 2021

Oh, the places we won’t go — but photos can take us there
By Jean Sherrard and Clay Eals

JEAN: This Fourth of July, we at “Now & Then” mark the occasion with a declaration of interdependence. In a time riven with political and viral strife, we call upon you, dear readers, to unite with us in recalling and celebrating past joys and anticipating future pleasures.

CLAY: We all have places we’d like to go, but the complications and risks have been formidable. It’s only natural for our thoughts to drift to places we’ve visited and would like to experience again.

JEAN: Sometimes the places we long to revisit exist only in the pages of old photo albums when our memories were unformed. You’ve got one of those.

CLAY: I’ve long pondered a photo of my parents and me in Tijuana near the end of 1953 when I was 2-1/2. I’m astride a donkey, painted to look like a zebra for visibility, called a “zonkey.” Background signs tell more of the story.

JEAN: Talk about a photo and caption all in one!

CLAY: I never asked my parents about it while they were alive. It might have been taken when we visited my dad’s sister in Los Angeles. It’d be fun to try to find the spot again, but I’ve not been to Mexico since. (Playing Herb Alpert records doesn’t count.) What example comes to your mind?

JEAN: First, a bit of backstory. The U.S. Army drafted my dad in 1960, right out of the University of Washington Medical School. His young family ended up in a little town just outside Stuttgart, Germany, where we lived for the next three years. Every summer, we tooled around Europe in a VW van, from Greece to Norway, once with my grandparents in tow. And dad took thousands of color photos, including this one in Venice, with his trusty Zeiss-Ikon.

CLAY: Hmm, you’re making me think of Paul Simon.

JEAN: Right on: “Kodachrome”!

CLAY and JEAN (singing together): “Give us those nice bright colors / Give us the greens of summer / Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day.”

JEAN: It’s been a gas enlisting photographers to shoot “Now” photos in roughly the same spots. In-person visits may not be possible in coming months, but these repeat images fire the imagination and anticipate our return to “normal.”

Readers, we encourage you to submit your own photos of early-day, treasured vacation moments. We’ll feature them on this blog and select several to appear in this column at summer’s end. Email them to VicariousVacationPix@gmail.com. As with our own vacation snaps, we’ll track down photographers from around the world to reshoot “Nows” of your “Then” vacations!

WEB EXTRAS

No 360-degree video for this installment, for obvious reasons. But we do have another vicarious-vacations photo pair from Jean:

THEN2 (Jean): Striking a pose in front of Notre-Dame de Paris in September 1963 are Jean Sherrard’s paternal grandmother Marion and parents Don and Edith. Like most medieval cathedrals, Notre-Dame was a labor of spiritual love built over centuries, begun in 1163 and largely completed in 1345. (Jean Sherrard collection)
NOW2 (Jean): On April 15, 2019, Notre-Dame Cathedral caught fire, narrowly averting complete destruction. The enormous job of reconstruction likely will conclude before the 2024 Summer Olympics to be held in Paris. Two masked Parisians certainly hope for a return to normal. (Berangere Lomont)

We also present a couple of additional Tijuana-based photos contributed by Scott Koenig, shown above posing with a “zonkey.”

Signage in 2018 at Food Garden Plaza Rio, Tijuana,  reflects that the city has evolved to become a world-class dining destination. (Scott Koenig)
Tijuana’s iconic arch as viewed from Plaza Santa Cecilia. (Scott Koenig)

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