From a photographic point of view, I am a big fan of any old advertisement or business sign still around. They remind me of my personal time growing up in the late 1940s and 1950s when what we became interested in from a “buying” standpoint was a result of some interesting sign hanging outside a business, or some painted version on the side of brick or wooden buildings. No TV to help the selling spree, but that’s indeed NOT a bad thing. Coke or Pepsi?
Category Archives: America’s Past
I have photographed this old “rock house” several times before. It is located between Martinsville and Danville Virginia along the main highway and whenever I drive by I always take a look to see what might be “new.” As I drove by recently, I noticed that the owners had removed the wire fence that once kept visitors like me from getting too close. That did it. I had to stop. I assume the home was lived in during the early 20th Century based on its design. Today, it serves as a great photo subject. I liked the small purple flowers growing on the porch steps and the view out from an old window opening surrounded by lots of ivy.
I’ve written before that when you are walking around with your camera, especially on streets in towns and cities, there are lots of interesting objects or scenes to photograph besides the typical tourist shots. Just use your imagination. It works for me anyway. Here are several examples recently made in Uptown Martinsville, Virginia. The “face profile” image is in fact a section of a stucco wall that had fallen off. I also thought the unique “hand” door knocker was pretty neat. Never seen one like this before. Caught my eye. Try your hand at making your own different images.
I love trains, especially those that thrived throughout the United States during the early-mid 20th Century. Rail lines went just about everywhere it seemed, connecting towns and cities large and small. Most train depots had a similar look. Long, single-storied brick and wooden structures that lay parallel to the train tracks. There was always a long wooden deck or concrete loading and unloading platform which felt the pulse of thousands of travelers for decades. Today, in locations such as Bassett Virginia, these iconic stations still exist, albeit in some decay, but are still being used for purposes other than train traffic, which has ceased. When I visited the Bassett train depot recently I was looking for something different to photograph, but with an objective to portray the aging and rustic nature of the facility. The town of Bassett now uses this building for a city market, where local goods are sold on weekends. It is also used for special community gatherings. While trains no longer pass by, people like me often do.
I enjoy wandering our relatively small and somewhat struggling city center of Martinsville, VA adjacent to where we live, and making photos of items in store windows and store fronts. It’s interesting to note that Martinsville was, until the late 1980s, a primary “economic engine” for the Commonwealth of Virginia. With the demise of American manufacturing over the years, especially textiles and furniture, given that cheaper goods are available from off-shore resources, cities like ours have struggled. Many, like here, are seeking ways to make their business districts more vibrant and that brings out ingenuity of store owners to attract customers. But, economics and government policies are not my focus here, photos are. The main challenge faced when making photos through store window glass is the angle of the sun and reflections, much less dirty glass. So, picking the right time of day is important. Anyway, as I walk along, my eyes are always roving to see what I can find. Colors, shapes, interesting items, etc. Here are some examples I made recently.
In my last post I presented several photographs I made at Madison Dry Goods store in Madison, NC. I mentioned that the owner of the store had gathered a number of antiques which he placed in the upstairs portion of the building, which once was a part of the Sterling Hotel. The hotel operated from 1908 to the 1920s, and had 16 rooms, a lobby and a downstairs cafe (now a part of the dry goods store). The intent of the “museum” setting is to offer the visitor a glimpse of what it might have been like when the hotel was operational, by displaying numerous items commonly found at that time. I noted that the rooms were quite small compared to those found today, but then there were much less demands for “comfort” when traveling back in the early 20th Century. A clean bed and a place to wash up and keep warm in cool weather was a main priority.
From a photographers standpoint I captured three images which I really liked for the “look” I saw. The “red lamp” in the brick-walled room, for example, and the image looking out the curtained window to buildings in the back of the hotel were two scenes I really liked. Lastly, I wanted to make an image of the old stairs leading to the rooms above to remind me of the many travelers which had gone up and down those well-worn steps to and from their rooms. It was all a rather enjoyable experience being at such an interesting place. I trust you will enjoy seeing what I saw.
Once again, I found a new and very unique photo opportunity in a location I have visited many times before. Madison, NC. It’s a small town located just south of the Virginia State line in the Piedmont Region, and was once a hub for the tobacco trade. Today, many stores remain open and owners work to restore a look of “history” as well as a uniqueness in the manner in which they present their products. Madison, unlike some other small towns in this area which I have visited and photographed many times, retains a vibrancy which attracts local citizens and visitors like me.
I parked and began to wander around a street looking for photo scenes that caught my eye. I liked the two flags, for example, which I saw in front of Madison Dry Goods, so I made a photo and then moved on. Returning later to my car, the owner of the dry goods store (Richard) stepped out of the front door and introduced himself, asking if I was enjoying myself making photos, and would I like to come inside to see what he had to offer. Wow, am I glad I accepted his kind and sincere offer! What follows are several images of the inside of his store. It is literally chocked full of things which many photographers love to see. On top of that, he has restored a portion of the building to the 1905 hotel it once was. In the restoration he has placed numerous original antiques all designed to give the visitor a feel for what it would have been like staying at the hotel. But, I want to save that portion of my photo presentation to a follow-on post.
One thing about living where we do in this region of the United States which I enjoy is the friendliness and hospitality of the small town “folks” we interact with, who are more than willing to become “friends’ no matter the length of time of the interaction. If you are interested, I recommend checking out Madison Dry Goods web site. Very interesting indeed.
I spotted this old farm house off to one side of the Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia recently, the bright green, metal roof and (especially) the uniqueness of the metal top to the stone chimney getting my attention. No question it deserved a stop and a few snaps of my camera shutter. I wonder what the purpose was for the metal topping on the chimney. I have not seen such a chimney before or after this one and I spend a lot of time driving around searching for old farm houses. Anyway, enjoy if you will.