Double refraction: a Mexican-American neighborhood is re-envisioned as a baseball stadium, and the rage of the people is projected as art on the sides of a 1953 Chevrolet ice cream truck. (photos taken at Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles). One of the placards for this vehicle-as-art reads: “By 1951, certain politicians and businessmen in Los Angeles decided that a baseball team would be more economically beneficial to the city than public housing and they moved to kill the housing project plans, which were seen as espousing abhorrent ‘communist ideals.’ Although many of the families by this time had moved out, twelve families refused to leave. The city was now in legal possession of the land, and looking to transfer the public use land to private corporate interests. Seeking a better location for his team, Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley struck a deal with the city, giving him Chavez Ravine as part of an incentive package to bring the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles. Outraged former residents of Chavez Ravine forced the city to put the matter to a vote in 1958, but the referendum to bring the Dodgers to Los Angeles won by a margin of less than two percent. Having assumed ownership of Chavez Ravine, the city of Los Angeles planned to forcibly evict the remaining families from the area and employed law enforcement personnel and bulldozers to emphasize that protests would not be tolerated. The last resident, a member of the Arechiga family, was so opposed to leaving her home that she brandished a rifle and yelled to authorities that she would not be moved. A total of 14 sheriffs were ultimately needed to move the family out of the house, which was then razed. The ordeal was captured on camera and televised on the local news that night.”

“Refraction is the change in direction of a wave due to a change in its transmission medium. … Refraction of light is the most commonly observed phenomenon, but any type of wave can refract when it interacts with a medium, for example when sound waves pass from one medium into another or when water waves move into water of a different depth.” – Wikipedia

“For this photo challenge, show us what “refraction” means to you. It could be an image taken in a reflective surface, it could be light bent from behind an object, or it could mean remedial math homework: the choice is completely up to you.”


9 Replies to “Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction”

    1. It does, doesn’t it? My partner was so affected by this very vehicle and its story, that she wrote a poignant story about the lowriders of the 1940’s. I am proud that her story was published last year in an anthology.

      I too was affected by this car and whoever it was that painted it so lovingly. It’s a glorious example of channeling that energy in a way that affects people towards the good.


  1. Very interesting indeed. We become so used to a place “always” being there, that we forget something (or someone) else was in its place previously and had a story of its own. Thanks so much for a great article, and photos. I am inspired to learn more about this period of our L.A. history. My commute to my first job out of high school in 1971 from La Crescenta to downtown Los Angeles (at 12th & Olive) often included a short-cut that I discovered off the 5, up over Stadium Way to Chinatown. I also recall going out to lunch at the Police Academy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sue! Yes, this artistic tribute to the history of Chavez Ravine is so much more memorable than an entry in Wikipedia, isn’t it? Another fascinating downtown fact: when the powers that be moved the Japanese out of Little Tokyo and into internment camps, those same powers encouraged African Americans to move in. For the period of the war and for some years afterwards, Little Tokyo was known as Bronzeville.

      I too have driven that tiny slice of L.A. around the police academy. It’s a picturesque spot, isn’t it?


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