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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Racing Long Johns, Angels Camp, California, 2008
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Racing Long Johns, Angels Camp, California, 2008

For the past 70 years, California’s Calaveras County has been holding a frog-jumping contest at its country fair near the old gold mining town of Angels Camp. (The contest was inspired by Mark Twain’s 1865 tall tale of a jumping frog, which was written in Angels Camp.) When we arrived in Angels Camp the week before the 2008 contest, its main street was already decorated with clothing likely to be worn by gold miners. There is a double incongruity at work in this image – using underwear as decoration is an unusual practice. And stiff winds made the long Johns in this image appear to come to life and race each other while dangling on a wire just above the town’s old mercantile exchange. (A week later, we once again passed through Angels Camp, only there was no wind blowing, and the long Johns hung limply over the street.)

Leica V-Lux 1
1/400s f/8.0 at 26.8mm iso100 full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis09-May-2009 22:59
You are right, Cyndy -- the overalls are hanging low here. I enjoyed your own running long johns at It is amazing how lifelike windblown undies can be!
Guest 09-May-2009 18:27
I love how you framed this. It's as if they're racing over an imaginary finish line in the sky. I don't think the overalls will win with that attitude, though ;D
Phil Douglis18-Jun-2008 17:48
Thanks, Jenene, for recognizing the spirit of the gold rush itself embedded in this image. Endurance was the key -- many who stuck it out and survived came home rich. They left a colorful legacy, and this image is not only full of that spirit, but is leavened with a touch of humor as well. These "most private of garments" not only hang over the town's main street -- they seem to be engaged in a competitive race, just as the 49ers themselves were.
JSWaters18-Jun-2008 06:10
Maybe not 'sexy, lacy frocks' but wild and wooly fun to allieve the tension felt daily. Survival was never assured in this era, but the human spirit endured, as evidenced by the stringing up of the most private of garments.
Phil Douglis29-May-2008 18:14
You are right, Carol -- these undies are very businesslike as well as energetic. They are just like those worn by gold miners in 1849, and gold miners took their work to heart. As for those "sexy lacy rocks," they fly from other clotheslines over this main street of Angels Camp. I found the long johns to be more amusing.
Carol E Sandgren29-May-2008 05:05
Real workmen's undies, no sexy lacy frocks belong here. This makes it even funnier in my opinion.
Phil Douglis28-May-2008 21:12
I had hoped it would make you smile, Rosemarie -- underwear can be quite amusing when seen out of its normal context. And when that context brings it to life, as it does here, the effect can be even more humorous.
sunlightpix28-May-2008 21:02
When gold was discovered, the world rushed in. These Long Johns appear to be rushing too! This image makes me smile!
Phil Douglis27-May-2008 19:56
This image works both ways -- a salute to both past and present. Thanks, Tim, for this observation.
Tim May27-May-2008 18:18
Speaks the partying to come.
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