Several months ago, I received an email from a gentleman in Southern California telling me that he had discovered some interesting photographs in a dumpster behind a commercial building where he had an office. The man was not a fan of track and field but in going through the photographs he saw that many of them were probably taken at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Some had captions written on the back of them. Others did not. It was evident that the photographer was most likely Cliff Severn who in the 1960s was the Adidas shoe distributor on the West Coast.
My first thought was, "Go back to that dumpster and see if there are any mint condition, or any condition, old Adidas shoes in there. My source informed me there was nothing else of significance.
In numerous postings on our blog, my colleague, Roy Mason, when writing about Track and Field News issues would always mention Cliff Severn's advertisements which appeared for years in the journal. Cliff's shoe store in West Hollywood was a magnet for track and field athletes and the sole source of Adidas shoes. Many of our readers have mentioned that store and Cliff. We even did a story on Cliff in this blog. See this link:
This posting must have shown up when our contact googled the name of Cliff Severn. In that was I was found and contacted about the pictures.
Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!
Just as I was writing the work above we were in a major wind storm here on Vancouver Island and a forty foot section off the top of a Douglas Fir snapped and hit the front of the house. Exciting, minor damage to eaves on the roof and a lot of tree in the front yard. Will continue this in due time.
As I was saying: Cliff, on his own, was material for a book. Born in England, a child actor in the 1930s in Hollywood, international cricket player, and shoe distributor. I am posting a number of those pictures below on this piece, but there are quite a few others that I will post in subsequent articles. I don't want to overwhelm you with all of them in one shot. The candidness of these photos is what I feel makes them unique. They often tell their own stories without my comments. So here is the first batch with Cliff''s comments in italics and mine following each one.
Good post. I was in Santa Clara during the ’64 Olympics. So swimming was the big American sport in those Olympics. That’s wild seeing how the athlete’s dressed when they weren’t competing
The picture of Snell is such a great reminder of what a truly outstanding runner he was.
Why was Severn wasting his time photographing those athletes when he had Valerie, Ann and The Polish Beauty to snap?
1:42 PM (58 minutes ago)