See What Develops

Here are some of the wanderers who passed Lillybridge's lens around the turn of the century:

An old Army veteran with a long white beard, stiffly holding two babies.
Three young toughs in men's swimming costumes, panning for gold in the Platte.

A gypsy family at home in their tent.
A female sharpshooter from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, which was probably camped nearby.

All kinds of beautiful machinery--mule-, horse- and steam-driven--which appeared during the construction of the Alameda underpass, which occurred right under Lillybridge's nose. The hordes of male laborers are dressed uncannily like the male models in today's GAP ads.

Three adolescent boys with shotguns and a dog, out for a bit of pheasant hunting along the Platte.

Four dapper black cyclists, impeccably dressed, out for a day of recreation.
Three miserable-looking women out for a formal Sunday walk, in creaking corsets and tight pince-nez. They are pushing an older woman in a wheelchair. She is why they are miserable.

Mormon missionaries.
A soap salesman with his sample case, looking unsuccessful.
An elderly man in a suit, walking along with a chicken under each arm, very satisfied with himself.

In Lillybridge's neighborhood, there was never a shortage of raggedly dressed children unsupervised by any adult, horses that could do balancing tricks, or dogs. Young women seem to have enjoyed posing for him while wrapped in American flags. If Lillybridge ate lunch at the local bar, it most likely consisted of a five-cent "near beer" and a bowl of chili, spelled c-h-i-l-e.

Furthermore, bicycles were an exotic, admirable mode of transportation. The Denver parks were patrolled by bicycle officers with dour faces and serious uniforms. Streetcar conductors were really much too busy to have their photographs taken. They refused to remove their hats for such a trivial matter.

In general, hats were far more prevalent and had far more personality than they do today. You probably couldn't identify someone by referring to him as "that guy in the hat," but you might get somewhere with "that fellow who affects the bowler with the rolled brim and insists on wearing it on the back of his head at an impudent angle."

Women's hats contained an entire fruit bowl's worth of trim. You had to have good posture to wear one. Taking such a hat off at the end of the day and allowing your hair to escape its stringent regimentation might have been construed as an erotic act.

Ice, milk and coal were delivered to the door. Babies frequently died.
The South Platte River area was no greenbelt, but you could camp there for weeks, bringing along the Conestoga your grandpa came to Colorado in. You could swim there without fear of death by sewage. You could catch a cheap fish dinner. You could take your sweetheart there...although her mother might not have approved. You could buy some land cheap, build yourself a foundry and start paving the whole thing.

Some things were different. Some were similar. The weeds along the Platte in the height of summer--the mulleins, the ragweed, the hollyhocks--were exactly the same. The hollyhocks may have been a foot taller. Were they part of Lillybridge's garden? Who knows?

It was a long time ago. The people in his photographs, who seemed so alive and in-your-face, have grown old and died.

The tortured premise is history.

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