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Trove of missing photos reveals Oakland street life in the 1970s

By Liam O’Donoghue, SF Gate, October 9, 2022

“In July 2021, [Ben] Tolford was driving home through Oakland’s Clinton neighborhood when he spotted a dozen binders scattered next to a garbage can. […] [The binders] contained hundreds of Kodachrome slides, tiny photo copies that analog photographers use to analyze images before printing them full-size.

“The collection [of photographs by Raymond Cooper] included an incredibly wide range of subjects [from the late 1970s], from Gov. Jerry Brown sporting a full head of hair to sunsets over the San Francisco Bay.

“[Aja Cooper, the photographer’s daughter, said] she still gets deja vu when she’s walking around Oakland and sees buildings from her dad’s photos, like the Cathedral Building, which is seen in a shot of then-Mayor Lionel Wilson talking with a Black cowboy riding a horse down Broadway.

“For [Aja], almost losing the photos has made her treasure them even more. ‘They survived the fire and then this robbery,’ she told [the author].

“ ‘Before all of these small tragedies with the photos happened, it was sad to think how I was the only person who really cared for them. But through these blessings in disguise more people will get to see them and I won’t be the only one that valued his art,’ she wrote.

Read the full article — with numerous photos from the archive, including views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline (~4 min.)

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