A Greek donkey with US diplomatic immunity! Pictures of Greece in the 50’s and 60’s

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During his visit in Greece back in 1963 US Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was in Thessaloniki. He went to see the American Farm School and presented the administration there with a new tractor. The school responded by giving Johnson a donkey.

Vice President Johnson's donkey
Vice President Johnson’s donkey photographed by Robert McCabe

© Robert McCabe

Instead of transporting the young animal back to the States, Johnson decided that it should stay in Greece and enjoy the privileges of diplomatic immunity. The donkey was never put to work and led a long and happy life at the American Farm School.

Robert McCabe’s Images of Greece in the 50’s

The American photographer first fell in love with Greece in the 1950s and has divided his time between the two countries ever since, giving us some of the most candid and striking images we have of the country before the advent of mass tourism.

Born in Chicago in 1934 McCabe was introduced to photography at the age of 5 by his father, who worked in the publishing sector and bought his son a Kodak camera. He discovered Greece while he was in college in 1954 and was so taken by the place that he returned the following year. He went on to cement his relationship with the country by marrying a Greek woman and buying homes in Athens and on the island of Patmos.

In an interview with the New York Greek community’s newspaper The National Herald published on April 5, 2018, McCabe likened photography to poetry.

“For me, the most successful photographs represent a form of poetry. Just as a short poem can create a vivid emotional experience, so too can an image.”

Greece: Images of an Enchanted Land, 1954-1965

Robert McCabe first visited Greece in 1954 while an undergraduate at Princeton University. He returned in 1955 and 1957 via freighter from the U.S., traveling extensively in the Aegean and documenting a way of life that today has all but vanished. In his book Greece: Images of an Enchanted Land, 1954-1965the stunning collection of 116 iconic photographs covers four areas: History, People, the Seas, and Orthodoxy. The 116 photographs, made with a Rolleiflex and Plus-X film, are beautifully reproduced here in sumptuous tritone.

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