This blog is just amazing, it’s built from the memoir of photojournalist Gene Barnes who worked for NBC in the 50s and 60s. This post shows an amazing set of towers but also gives a sense of Gene’s working method.

I, Witness

BUILDER OF THE WATTS TOWERS

Simon “Sam” Rodia
Watts, California – 1954

Rodia darted over and stood threateningly in front of me, shaking his finger, speaking excitedly in broken English. “You, you think you poody. You no poody. You think you poody, but you’re not. Sure, you poody on the outside. Inside you stink like hell!”

We wanted Sam to cooperate while we shot a story on his towers. Sam wasn’t buying it. We tried to cajole Sam into climbing up just a few feet and act like he was working on the tower. Sam steadfastly refused, ranting “No. No. No.” Then he’d storm off to a shed which served as his living quarters.

After a while he would emerge and ignore us. He was beset by his own tribe of devils — he was nuts. We’d try again and Sam would become enraged and storm back into the shed…

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