What would account for the diverse responses in this image? The answer is after the jump.
They are spectators at a tense moment during the rodeo at the San Angelo Fat Stock Show, San Angelo, Texas, 1940. The photo is by Russell Lee, a Farm Security Administration photographer. It is difficult to know what they were watching, but it was likely some fancy riding:
Or perhaps wild steer wrestling:
Lee noted that "The Fat Stock Show is not only attended by the cattlemen but also by their entire families and is an important social occasion in West Texas." As always, I'm interested in the culture of sports grandstands. It looked a little cold and windy, but fans were nevertheless well-taken care of by cushion sellers (a now lost business that also thrived in 19th-century urban theaters), a live band, and various snack and souvenir vendors.