“What America looked like 40 years ago”¦” So the New York Times Magazine, June 1, introduced six pages of color photos by Paul Fusco. Fusco took the pictures from aboard the train that bore Robert Kennedy’s body from New York City to Washington, DC. Kennedy had been assassinated in Los Angeles June 5, 1968. His funeral took place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York three days later and, after this eight-hour train journey, his body was buried at Arlington Cemetery.
Fusco’s photographs show women and children taking their own pictures as they stand in the bed of a red truck. In another shot, children sit in folding chairs while a golden retriever sniffs the grass. Three teenagers stand on fence posts by a dirt road.
James Stevenson’s accompanying text calls our attention to “hands” ““ yes. Because the faces are mostly blurred.
From this high vantage point, Fusco’s pictures look down on clusters of nameless people in unidentified places. Do these images tell us “What America looked like 40 years ago”?
Not much. They say far more about the New York Times’ perspective on “America” between The City and the Capitol, and all that lies between sea and shining sea. It’s what a patrician corpse would see.