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Reminiscing the good old Afghanistan in 1960’s

in Arts & Culture

Reminiscing the good old Afghanistan in 1960’s

In 1967, Dr. William Podlich took a two-year leave of absence from teaching at Arizona State University and began a stint with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to teach in the Higher Teachers College in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served as the “Expert on Principles of Education.” His wife Margaret and two daughters, Peg and Jan, came with him. Then teenagers, the Podlich sisters attended high school at the American International School of Kabul, which catered to the children of American and other foreigners living and working in the country.

Outside of higher education, Dr. Podlich was a prolific amateur photographer and he documented his family’s experience and daily life in Kabul, rendering frame after frame of a serene, idyllic Afghanistan. Only about a decade before the 1979 Soviet invasion, Dr. Podlich and his family experienced a thriving, modernizing country. These images, taken from 1967-68, show a stark contrast to the war torn scenes associated with Afghanistan today.

“When I look at my dad’s photos, I remember Afghanistan as a country with thousands of years of history and culture,” recalls Peg Podlich. “It has been a gut-wrenching experience to watch and hear about the profound suffering, which has occurred in Afghanistan during the battles of war for nearly 40 years. Fierce and proud yet fun loving people have been beaten down by terrible forces.”

More of Dr. Podlich’s images are available on a website maintained by Peg’s husband Clayton Esterson. “I have taken on the role as family archivist and when Bill Podlich gave us his extensive slide collection, I immediately recognized the historical significance of the pictures.” says Esterson. “Many Afghans have written comments [on the website] showing their appreciation for the photographs that show what their country was like before 33 years of war. This makes the effort to digitize and restore these photographs worthwhile.”



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  1. Kate mccord
    Kate mccord 11 February, 2013, 16:36

    A friend of mine in Afghanistan showed me her own photo. She was wearing a skirt just above the knee. Beneath that, she wore thin stockings and high-heeled, black shoes. Her hair was done up in a bouffant style, wavy and uncovered. She was smiling. The photo was taken outside of Kabul University sometime in the early ’60s. Now, it’s creased and faded. My friend looked at the photo in her hand, then turned her attention to her 8 year old daughter. She shook her head. “I want to take my daughter to Canada. Maybe she’ll have a life there.” Then, she put the picture away and we returned to our tea. If you think we are wistful for the old days, imagine what it’s been like for those who, like my friend, endured the loss.

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