Forgotten America Then

As photographed by Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans

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Forgotten America Now

As photographed by Chris Arnade

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Chris Arnade is a photographer, who ever since leaving the world of finance as a Wall Street trader,  has been fully engaged in recording what he would call the non-elites, those Americans who have never been to college, never had a chance, live mostly in despair, and have been largely abandoned by the rest of the country (“the deplorables”).

Peggy Noonan, in today’s Wall Street Journal, quotes from him this amusing aperçu on the role of otherwise much despised MacDonald’s in these peoples lives:                

The other institution that helps hold people together is McDonald’s. Mr. Arnade didn’t intend to discover virtue in a mighty corporation, but McDonald’s “has great value to community.” He sees an ethos of patience and respect. “McDonald’s is nonjudgmental.” If you have nowhere to go all day they’ll let you stay, nurse your coffee, read your paper. “The bulk of the franchises leave people alone. There’s a friendship that develops between the people who work there and the people who go.” “In Natchitoches, La., there’s a twice-weekly Bible study group,” that meets at McDonald’s. “They also have bingo games.” There’s the Old Man table, or the Romeo Club, for Retired Old Men Eating Out.

ED-AV941A_noona_GR_20161229162954.jpgDavid Sanders studying the Bible at a McDonald’s in Johnson City, Tenn. PHOTO: CHRIS ARNADE

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