Week 6 - Pulitzer 1948 - A Boy, a Pistol, and Trouble - Frank Cushing
by, 11-13-2008 at 03:52 PM (5939 Views)
I must apologise for missing a week. I was too busy to even post a draft last week. I've actually been very busy this week as well but I've made the effort even though it is a rushed one. I hope you enjoy it despite my whinging.
Frank Cushing - A Boy, a Pistol, and Trouble
Camera 4 x 5 Speed Graphic
Desperation. It grips every one of us at varying levels. How far would you go? Could you imagine shooting a police officer at the age of 15 and then taking a hostage?
Frank Cushing was working the photographic beat one Summer afternoon. He was waiting to photograph a couple of victims of a hold up. In the car next to him a police radio put out an alert. A police officer had been shot, a hostage was taken and it was right down the street!
Frank abandoned his assignment and went to investigate the scene of the crime. Two police officers had stopped a 15 year old to question him about a robbery. The boy, Ed Bancroft, took out a pistol and shot one of the officers. He fled into an alley where he grabbed another 15 year old, Bill Ronan, as a hostage.
Both ends of the lane were quickly blocked off. Ed began to threaten the police warning them not to come closer or he would shoot the hostage. He fired a few times towards the police to show he was serious.
Meanwhile our photographer on the scene took a photo from the end of the alley. He knew the photo was a waste as he was too far away. The police began to move in on Ed. He again screamed his threats and backed them up with another shot at the police. Frank knew he had to move quickly to get a closer shot. He calculated which house would give him a good vantage point and knocked on a door. The owner let him in and Frank slowly made his way to the rear porch and took his photo that won him the Pulitzer for 1948.
A police officer made his way silently behind the fence where Ed was seen in the picture. He stood up at the right time and whacked him on the head with the butt of a weapon. As it turns out the boy had nothing to do with the robbery in question.
Frank later tells, "I was wondering whether the kid would shoot me, but I wanted the picture." In an age where hold ups were rare and close photos due to the limited focal length even rarer, Frank's photo was genuinely remarkable.