Linemen Hanging Around

Lineman c 1966Editors like feature photos with unusual shapes because they allow them to do something different with page layouts. You wouldn’t want to go running in with some extreme like this on deadline, because of the work it would cause to change headline sizes, story placement and jumps, but it was great to have in the bucket for a slow day.

In West Palm Beach, Florida Power & Light (AKA FP&L or Florida Plunder & Loot) had a bunch of poles set up for training. Rookies would climb and reclimb the poles until they got good at it. You’d drive by to see half a dozen guys (is was all male then) playing catch with basketballs. A miss meant you had to climb down, retrieve the ball and climb back up.

I thought maybe that’s what was going on here until I looked more closely. It looks like the three guys on the poles are positioned to attach another piece of diagonal bracing after the fellow on the ground hoists it up to them.

The Kiss of Life

They would also practice doing the Kiss of Life: mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while hanging in the air.

Photographer Rocco Morabito won a Pulitzer prize for one of the most dramatic rescue photos I’ve ever seen, and one I had in the back of my mind on every spot news run.

Follow this link to see the photo, read Marabito’s account of taking it, and to find out what happened to the guy whose life was saved.


2 Replies to “Linemen Hanging Around”

  1. Ken: You know you really have brought to life a wide panorama of different places, moods and moments in your recorded images over the years. I guess only you know how large and far the array of images span, but it’s a treat to have you serve them up like courses of a meal that just keeps on going.

    That Kiss of Life. That is powerful stuff and I can see why it would resonate every time you’d start to frame a story visually.

    1. Thank you, sir. That was one of the really cool things about my former profession. You got paid for roaming around looking for things that most people missed.

      Newspaper photographers had to be generalists, because you never knew what your next assignment would bring. Having said that, though, almost all of us had specialties.

      One guy on the staff was though to be an alien because he had the most incredible ability to capture the key moments at a sporting event. Another guy could make food pictures that would make your mouth water. A couple others were great illustrators who could shoot wonderful fashion shots or come up with creative ways to tell a story.

      I specialized in documentary picture stories about people who were out of the mainstream. My environmental portraits represent my strongest body of work. I had the ability to connect with people and to establish an instant rapport with them.

      It’s been a good life. Except for a couple of twists of fate, I’d have been just another lawyer.

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