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Teenage Wasteland: Texas teens getting stoned, 1973

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Teenagers getting out of their tree.
 
The great photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson said taking a good photograph is all about luck. The luck of the moment. The luck of the chance encounter. The luck of just being in the right place at the right time.

Marc St. Gil (1924-92) was in the right place at the right time when he met a bunch of teenagers on a day-out to the Frio Canyon River near Leakey, in Texas 1973. Marc was one of seventy freelance photographers hired by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to photograph America.

The EPA had been set up by President Nixon in 1970. One of its first assignments was Documerica a six-year project (1971-77) to document environmental issues, EPA activities and rural life in America during the seventies.

The youngsters Marc met were hanging out—chilling along the riverbank and smoking weed. With their permission, Marc photographed the youths. Two teenage girls sharing a joint. One older male lighting up a pipe. Marc was supposed to be photographing the effects of pollution on the river and landscape. Instead he photographed these carefree youngsters toking up and having fun.

One can’t help but wonder—what happened next? What happened to these carefree youngsters? Where are they now?
 
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‘Teenage Girls Wading the Frio Canyon River near Leakey Texas, While on an Outing with Friends near San Antonio 05/1973.’
 
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‘Teenage Girl Smoking Pot in Cedar Woods While on an Outing with Friends near Leakey, Texas.’
 
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‘One Girl Smokes Pot While Her Friend Watches During an Outing in Cedar Woods near Leakey, Texas.’
 
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‘Two Girls Smoking Pot During an Outing in Cedar Woods near Leakey, Texas.’
 
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‘Boy and Girl Smoking Pot During an Outing in Cedar Woods near Leakey, Texas, 05/1973.’
 
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‘Teenage Couple Embrace on the Bank of the Frio Canyon River near Leakey, Texas, and San Antonio 05/1973.’
 
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‘Young Man Picks Leaves from His Girl’s Hair after They Had Embraced on the Banks of the Frio Canyon River near Leakey, Texas and San Antonio 05/1973.’
 
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‘Group of Teenagers in the Town of Leakey, Texas, near San Antonio, 05/1973.’
 
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‘Pizza Place in the Town of Leakey, Texas, near San Antonio 05/1973.’
 
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‘Woman Owner in Her Grocery Store in Leakey, Texas, with a Friend, near San Antonio 05/1973.’
 
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‘Den behind a Store Which Caters to the Teenage Group in Leakey, Texas, near San Antonio, 05/1973.’
 
Via U.S. National Archives.

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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