When asked to visualize modern-day Afghanistan, images of a war-torn nation under the control of the Taliban often comes to mind. However, there was once a time when this country exuded peace and good fortune. University professor Dr. Bill Podlich captured this phase in history when he travelled to Afghanistan in 1967 with Margaret, his wife, and Jan and Peg, their two teenage daughters. The main reason for their relocation revolved around Dr. Podlich’s desire to become the Expert of Principles of Education at the Higher Teachers College of Kabul. Aside from teaching, the professor also used his Kodachrome film camera to hold onto 1960s Afghanistan and to document the relationships he’d forged with many Afghans.
What Dr. Podlich captured was a liberal land and Westernized lifestyle. There were smiling boys, girls learning in classrooms, women wearing short skirts on a warm day, and families simply enjoying each other’s company outdoors. Sadly, this uplifting atmosphere completely changed only a decade later. Afghanistan was pulled into war, invaded, and became a country ruled by the Taliban.
“When I look at my dad’s photos, I remember Afghanistan as a country with thousands of years of history and culture,” Dr. Podlich’s daughter Peg, who attended the American International School of Kabul, told the Denver Post. “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.” Now, the happier times live on in photos.
All images via Dr. Bill Podlich’s collection, which is now managed by his son-in-law Clayton Esterson.