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R. H. Birkhead, Agent, M-K-T Railroad, Frederick, Oklahoma (1968)

R. H. Birkhead, station agent, on his last day at work
Portrait of Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad station agent Roy H. Birkhead at Frederick, Oklahoma, on the day of his retirement in 1968. With 60 years for the company, Mr. Birkhead was asked to unceremoniously lock up and leave the key in the mail slot when he left on his last day. Only Plowden, then a young photographer, was present to commemorate the event, which he did the only way he knew how: by making a portrait. Birkhead never saw the portrait. Plowden's package to Birkhead was returned, addressee unknown. Later, an Internet search revealed that Birkhead (1892-1971) had died in Florida. A nephew, William Roy Birkhead of Huntsville, Texas, says, "He was treated badly. The family knew that, too. He was quiet-spoken, a knowledgable guy." Ray Birkhead's only child, a deceased daughter, had no children. Nieces and nephews enjoy the portrait.
Source David Plowden, Winnetka, Illinois
Coverage Spatial, Frederick, Oklahoma; Temporal, 1968
Rights David Plowden
Date Created 1968
Resource Type
Extent 11 in. x 13 in.
Depicted Railroad
Location Frederick, Oklahoma
Depicted Occupation
Creator Description David Plowden says of himself that he stays one step ahead of the wrecking ball in recording "vanishing America." He started with steam locomotives, and has moved to the many changes he has observed on the North American rural and industrial landscapes. He was born in 1932 in Boston, began learning darkroom techniques at the Putney School in Vermont in 1948, published his first photograph in 1954 (in Trains), graduated from Yale in 1955, worked for the Great Northern as an assistant to the trainmaster in Minnesota, eventually assisted photographer O. Winston Link, and began a full-time professional career in 1960-61. He has more than twenty photography books to his credit.
Collection David Plowden Collection
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