A Cross-Country Road Trip Back In Time In the summer of 1973, photographer Stephen Shore set out on a quintessential American adventure. Now, 35 years later, his journey has become the focus of a book titled A Road Trip Journal. It reflects an America when gas was about 43 cents a gallon.
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A Cross-Country Road Trip Back In Time

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A Cross-Country Road Trip Back In Time

A Cross-Country Road Trip Back In Time

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

This summer, we've been following the adventures of Captain Fatty, as well as those of some of you. Today, we meet a man who set off for a month-long trip across the United States 35 years ago. Photographer Stephen Shore kept an extensive journal with details about where he stayed and what he ate. He collected postcards and receipts and not unexpectedly, took hundreds of pictures. His 1973 journal has just been reproduced and published. Stephen Shore joins us from our studios in New York. Welcome to the program.

Mr. STEPHEN SHORE (Photographer): Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: This is a pretty extensive journal. I mean, for one thing, it's full of all the receipts for the meals you ate, the maintenance you did on your car, the gas that you bought. Did you envision this as a professional project and then you could have this - submit these for expenses? Is that why you kept them?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHORE: No. I envisioned it almost for what you see now. It's a kind of collection of facts without really subjective writing, giving a picture, nonetheless, of the trip and the country at the time.

HANSEN: July 29th, 1973 is the date stamped on it. And you write you had breakfast at the Rondyvoo, R-O-N- D-Y-V-O-O, Restaurant...

Mr. SHORE: Yes.

HANSEN: In Ukiah you had cereal. And then for lunch at the Binbo(ph) Inn, you had roast beef and for dinner at the Santar(ph) Inn in Eureka you had steak. The film playing in Eureka then was "What's up, Doc?" but you still managed to watch "Manics" and "Barnaby Jones" on television.

Mr. SHORE: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Why do you think people will be interested in this?

Mr. SHORE: Well, maybe they're more interested now than they were 35 years ago.

HANSEN: You know what, I bet you're right because I question how many of these places still exist?

Mr. SHORE: I don't know. I think a lot still do. A couple of years ago I went to a little town in Arizona called Chinley and found that it was essentially unchanged after several decades and that there are lots of little towns that are exactly the same.

HANSEN: You said you kept all the receipts and the memorabilia because you had the idea of keeping this journal, but did you envision it as a book for publication?

Mr. SHORE: I'm not sure I ever thought of it as a book for publication. I thought if it, though, as some kind of a work, an artwork. Photography is essentially an analytic medium. The photographer starts with the multiplicity or messiness of the whole world and makes selections, and this is a different kind of way of making a selection, without using a camera.

HANSEN: By selecting what receipt you're going to use and thepostcards...

Mr. SHORE: Exactly.

HANSEN: That you're going to use, plus all of the photographs from your trip that are in the back. And you actually tell us day by day how many photographs you took, how many postcards you took. When you were putting this together, did some memories pop back into your head that you perhaps had forgotten about?

Mr. SHORE: Absolutely. It brought back the whole trip, although it's very hard for me to distinguish what is a memory of the trip and the photographs that I took because I've worked with these photographs continually since that time.

HANSEN: You know, if I remember correctly, there are a lot of people taking - young people taking cross-country trips at that time. A lot of hitchhikers, for example, making that post-Haight Ashbury, you know, pilgrimage across the country. Were you part of that wave?

Mr. SHORE: Well, I wasn't thinking in those terms, but I don't know if you had a chance to read the little essay I wrote about 1947 in the book.

HANSEN: Oh, yes. It's at the - it's near the end where your photos are.

Mr. SHORE: Yes.

HANSEN: Yeah.

Mr. SHORE: And it's about road trips in 1947, and this was the year that the great photographer, Cartier Brassant(ph), took a trip across America. It was also the year that Jack Kerouac took his trip. It was the year after Bobby Troup drove from Chicago to Los Angeles on Route 66 to make his fortune in Hollywood and wrote the song, "Get your kicks on Route 66." There was something, I think, with the war ending, people coming back home and trying to discover America. And there's also something about the country that lends itself to road trips, that you can get into a car and drive.

HANSEN: Stephen Shore, "A Road Trip Journal," is published by Phaidon Press. Stephen Shore joined us from our studios in New York. Stephen, thanks a lot.

Mr. SHORE: Thank you, Liane.

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