A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


The Spooks Were Cool
Saturday, December 27, 2008

I have written twice here and here about my wonderful relationship with libraries and in particular with the 1960s la Biblioteca Benjamín Franklin in Mexico City. It was a USIS (United States Information Service) facility which was the public face of the CIA. The Benjamin Franklin was located in that most fashionable area called La Zona Rosa or Pink Zone. They had a wonderful selection of books in English and a magazine and periodical section to die for. It was here that I could read both Downbeat and Scientific American sitting comfortably on a lounge chair and not standing uncomfortably by the magazine rack of the nearby Sanborn's. In 1962 I tried to take some books home but the female attendant at the front desk told me I needed a library card. One of the requirements was a passport type photo. So I went home and put my camera (a Pentacon-F) on a tripod and accessed the self-timer. I made a print to the size specification of the library and returned the next day. The woman looked at the picture and said, "I cannot tell if this is you because I can only see one side of your face." I picked up a nearby book and placed it to cover one half of it. "Does this look like me?" I asked her. She smiled and without making any further objection pasted it on to my application. A few days later I had my first ever library card.


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