The Arno River in Florence has flooded significantly numerous times over the centuries, but the one that took place on November 4, 1966, was one of the worst. Rising meters above normal level, the Flood of ’66 caused 36 deaths and devastating destruction of personal and public property, homes, and numerous historic works of art. Much was rendered beyond repair, but scores of people from around the world called “mud angels” pitched in to help restore their beloved Florence and its people. All around the city are height markers on buildings that show how high the raging waters reached.
A SACI publication, Dear Eddie and Popp: Letters from the Florence Flood of ‘66, includes letters written by American artist and designer, James Hogg, who witnessed the effects of the flood. These numerous, typed letters written to his father-in-law are paired with photographs by Nick Kraczyna. We are most grateful to Giacomo Hogg for allowing us to publish his father’s letters and to Nick Kraczyna for allowing his remarkable photographs to illustrate these letters.
In an exert from the Preface by Former SACI President, Mary Beckinsale:
With an ever-growing acknowledgement of oral history, letters of this kind are gaining importance. These letters are a very personal and vivid account of the horrors of the 1966 Florence flood and the suffering of the Florentines in their city, as seen by an extremely intelligent and sensitive American artist. The letters recount the shock, the devastation, and the economic suffering of the city… In an increasingly virtual world, Jim’s responses were those of a profoundly practical and morally solid man. He put on his boots to walk through the mud, to help his friends, to try and bring support and encouragement to others. He and his wife Joan remain an inspiration for all of us who knew them and they are written inherently into the story of SACI’s growth and development.
In the Introduction by Jules Maidoff, SACI Director Emeritus:
The day-by-day account in the letters here reproduced documents not only the tragedy and reality of what was happening in Florence in November 1966 but shows us the compassion and scale of what that now remote disaster inflicted on the people of the city. This is a rare document, a kind of epistolary no longer likely to be found in the new world of electronic communication. Jim sat down after wading through destroyed streets, tired and without light or heat, to set down for us what really was occurring around him. Thanks to Jim we can re-walk those mud-filled chaotic places in a way that the photos and newsreels over the years can only hint at for us.
To find out how to acquire a copy of Dear Eddie and Popp: Letters from the Florence Flood of ‘66, contact SACI: firstname.lastname@example.org