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Polio immunization

Polio immunization

Feb. 25, 1957: Manuel Reyes, 7, peeks apprehensively at the needle just before getting his polio shot at Castelar Street School as the City of Los Angeles Health Department opens drive to immunize 300,000 children.

This photo by former L.A. Times staff photographer Garry Watson became lead Page One art in the next morning’s paper.

The accompanying story reported:


That cry echoed through the halls of 13 Los Angeles elementary schools yesterday as the City Health Department opened its campaign to immunize 300,000 children against polio.

Between now and June, Salk vaccine supplied by the State will be made available in more than 500 public and parochial schools for pupils who haven’t yet been inoculated….

The Salk vaccine, developed by Jonas Salk, and a second oral vaccine, developed by Albert Sabin, were distributed in massive immunization programs. Worldwide polio has almost been eliminated by these two vaccines.

Recently, Watson explained how he took this image. Using a Speed Graphic camera he exposed 4-by-5-inch black-and-white film at 1/250th a second with the aperture set between f/16 and f/22.

Watson says he included the nurse in the image, but she was cropped out. “The crop made the picture.”

For a better understanding of how Watson used the Speed Graphic, check out this video made for the Press Photographers Assn. of Greater Los Angeles 75th Anniversary Photo Exhibit. The exhibit on the Queen Mary runs through the end of May.

In this video segment, Garry Watson explains how to use the Speed Graphic camera and 4-by-5-inch sheet film. Included in PPAGLA 75th Photo Exhibit on the Queen Mary are over 20 minutes of video interviews with retired Los Angeles photographers. Credit: David Fernandez/PPAGLA

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  1. April 28, 2011, 12:41 pm

    My hats off to you Garry, great story within the image and on 4×5?!!….your a beast! =)

    By: sal
  2. October 29, 2011, 2:23 am

    I told my grnamdtoehr how you helped. She said, “bake them a cake!”

    By: Lily
  3. June 3, 2013, 9:07 pm

    The girl behind Manuel is Lela Lee, and the girl behind her is Donna Yee.

    By: unclesmrgol

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