As a child, Rachel Krech loved going down to the Avenue to visit the street vendors who set up shop there daily. Her nanny Kathy Delacour took her there often while her parents were at work.
One day, photographer Nacio Jan Brown happened upon Rachel Krech as a toddler playing with a dog on the Avenue and took this photo. Though Rachel is the focus of the photograph, she is surrounded by the legs of taller adults as well as a large dog, which emphasizes her small size and youth. Dressed well in matching coat and skirt, she looks generally composed — though the position of her feet suggests a certain awkwardness. Meanwhile the look on her face confronts the viewer. As a result, this portrait of ‘child with dog’ is not too cute, but rather takes on a beguiling force.
Many children who grew up in Berkeley spent a good deal of time in adult social circles. Generally given more freedom than the average child, they hung out on the Avenue among the older crowd who lived and passed time there. Consequentially, these children were exposed to an adult world long before most.
Rachel’s parents recognized the dangers of growing up on the Avenue and moved her away at age eight, but many children who stayed behind began to experiment with drugs and sex as young as twelve or thirteen.
Looking back at Brown’s Rag Theater photographs from forty-five years’ distance, Rachel Krech (now Marinos) observed that, of the people she recognized, more were dead than alive.
In Rag Theater itself, Nacio Jan Brown put this image of Rachel in counterpoint with a more unsettling (and less compositionally tidy) image of a barefoot young girl with dogs. Here the “rags” of “rag theater” were literal — a blouse that had many loose threads.