Thursday, September 1, 2011

Camera at War Part One - The Home Front 1941-1943

Thomas J. Austin was born on April 28, 1918, along the banks of the Ohio River, in Newport, KY. The town sits in the shadow of Cincinnati, OH, and todav is a vibrant waterfront community with many new businesses, restaurants and tourist attractions. During Tom's childhood, Newport was a collection of aging riverboat docks and dilapidated warehouses, swinging night clubs that catered to a rough Cincinnati clientele, and a community of lower and middle class workers. Tom, along with two brothers and a sister, grew up in this aging riverfront community and saw the relative prosperity of the Roaring Twenties give way to the Great Depression. Despite hard times for his family during the depression, Tom entered Newport High School in 1933 and graduated in the spring of 1937. After graduating from high school, Tom was offered a job across the river with Ken Rarieh, a photographer who operated a studio in downtown Cincinnati. Tom worked as Mr. Ranch's assistant, carrying equipment on photo shoots, and doing odd jobs around the studio.