DUANE MICHALS Duane Michals was born on February 18, 1932, in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. His parents were of Czechoslovakian origin. Wishing to americanise the original family name Mihal, his parents had it changed to Michals. "My mother was anxious to assimilate"ÃÂ. His mother worked as a maid, and she named him Duane after the son of the wealthy family she served. His childhood was edged Gothic themes that haunt his photographs today. For the first five years of his life, Michals' parents were separated. He lived with his grandmother and saw his mother, a live-in maid, only on weekends. His father was a steelworker, struggling in the Depression to get a day's work. When the family finally got together, they lived in a tiny house heated by a coal stove.
Michals was alone most of the time "ÃÂ his brother wasn't born until Duane was nine "ÃÂ and he made up his own reality.
He drew castles and airplanes on the brown paper wrappings in which his grandmother brought fresh bread from the bakery. He drew his own version of Brick Bradford, a comic strip character who lived in caves and had wings and flew. He wrote poetry. He made up his own railroad line. He developed an enduring fascination with cities, which he built from stones. He checked out a library book with photographs of U.S cities so often that the librarians finally wouldn't let him have it anymore.
At 15 he took off on a bus to look for a job harvesting the summer wheat crop in Texas. He slept on a courthouse lawn without a sleeping bag and mingled with the rough migrant workers congregated in a tiny boondocks town near Amarillo. "I saw things there I never even knew existed,"ÃÂ he said."ÃÂIt was a great experience.