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Centenary College Choir members pause at the historic Hodges Gardens entrance, circa 1967-69. Hodges Foundation Archive.

“Centenary College Choir; this VW courtesy of Moffitt Volkswagen, Inc.”  This undated photograph from the archive provides an exercise in dating older photographs–a useful tool for recognizing and documenting landscape change.  Where maps are unavailable or lack a specific focus or detail, clues about the historic landscape can often be found in older photos–even those that were intended for entirely different purposes, such as a highlight of this student choir trip as photographed above.  A visit to the landscape can then assist with comparing the historic with existing conditions.

In the above example, it is difficult to revisit the exact location in the landscape, because this entire entrance area has changed since its original design in the mid-1950’s.  When U.S. Highway 171 (the road from which these students just exited) was expanded to a divided highway, nearly all the additional land acquired by the highway department came from the Hodges Gardens (east) side of the road.  The entrance sign and fence were removed, and autos now travel on top of the land in the foreground above.

The shiny Type 2 (T2) Volkswagon pictured above dates the photo to no earlier than 1967.  Though similar to Volkswagon’s Type 2 (T1)–originally marketed in the U.S. from 1950-1967–the Type 2 (T2) was sold in the U.S. from 1967-1979.  On the other end of my timeframe estimate, I’m considering vegetation, the appearance of the students, and the fact that the vehicle is a courtesy car from a Volkswagon dealership.  Given only the latter clue, I’d say the photo is not much more recent than 1979, because the dealership was more likely to provide a new/recent model for courtesy vehicles–particularly for advertisement purposes.  Considering the height of the planted pines and the style of the students, I would estimate this photo was snapped between 1967 and ’70.  If you see any other helpful clues in the photograph, I’d love to hear from you in this post’s comment space.  Volkswagon fans: do you see anything else in the character of the van that helps pinpoint the manufacture year more precisely than ’67-’79?

Established in 1941, Shreveport’s Centenary College Choir has performed around the world, and plays an important role in the culture and community of the Shreveport / Ark-La-Tex region.  Through both performances and retreats, the Choir has been closely tied to Hodges Gardens for five (5) decades.

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