Small towns around us in SW Virginia are putting up their Christmas and other holiday decorations, as they always do near Thanksgiving. I know each year I always think to myself that many people put their Christmas decorations out too early. But then when I think about the fact that the Christmas holiday is only a month away, I understand. In our case at home, I finished up our outside decorations today — early for me. But considering that last year at this time I was in Duke University Medical Hospital recovering from a bone marrow transplant, and could not do much decorating just before Christmas when I returned home, I am thankful to the good Lord for the ability to decorate and celebrate the season this year. These photos were made in Stuart, Virginia.
Category Archives: Photo Stories
This is the last of three posts made in order, that summarize some of the aspects of three World War Two war planes I recently photographed while attending an exhibition at the Blue Ridge Airport near our home. A P-51 Mustang fighter, B-17 Flying Fortress bomber and a B-24 Liberator bomber are traveling around the United States together to provide opportunities for visitors to pay respects to all those who fought, were wounded or died in planes like these during the campaigns in Europe and the Pacific. What follows are several close-up images I made of each of these planes, composed and developed in a way to provide visual interest, as well as to show their size and power.
Per my last post, I wrote about recently spending time in the midst of several World War II veterans, and photographing three of the vintage but still flying planes in which they fought and risked their lives for the defense of our country. Heroes all. Three WWII vintage war planes flew into the Blue Ridge Airport near our home last week, and I visited on two days to make photos and to learn more about this period of our history.
While I was looking into the plexiglass windshield on the nose of a B-24 Liberator bomber, a man standing behind me asked if I knew what it was I was seeing inside. I said I thought it was the once very highly classified Norden Bombsight, and he told me I was correct, but would I like to learn more. For the next few minutes he told me he had been the pilot on a B-24 like this one, flying in the Pacific Theater of the war, and later spent time in the Army of Occupation in Japan after the fighting was over. He told me he was later that day going to fly the B-24 we were standing next to, during its trip from the Blue Ridge Airport to South Carolina for the next planned exhibition location. He also told me he had built his own helicopter from scratch recently, and showed me some photos of his work which he carried in his wallet. He said he had wanted to fly from when he was a young boy, and had never lost that passion. I asked him what it was going to be like when he sat in the pilot’s seat again, and he replied that it would be as if he had never left it. Such was the impact the war had on him.
The B-24 on display has the names painted on its side of hundreds of veterans who had flown in or were related in some way to the plane. Also, the same “fighting logo drawing” as used during the war had been repainted in bright colors on the side of the plane’s nose. In sum, the bomber looked powerful not only in its size and the number of machine guns all around, but what it carried inside.
The plane’s significance really hit me when I crawled under to look inside the bombay doors, where I saw three (dummy) 500-pound bombs which signified the main purpose of the bomber; one with the words, “To Hitler from the Mighty 8th Air Force” painted on its side. I felt as if I had been transplanted back in time.
I thanked the veteran I had met, and told him I very much appreciated his service to our country. With that, he was met by others like me who wanted to talk with him. In closing, I note that the 8th Air Force suffered half of the Army Air Force casualties during the Second World War in all theaters of operation, with 26,000 airman alone killed in the battle for Europe. To them, this photo series is dedicated.
There was a time in my life when I never would have described myself as being “creative.” Sure, I built things but in every instance I used a set of instructions to totally guide my hands and mind. Then, as I grew older, I began to explore other activities for which there were no instructions. I started to write original articles for publication, I started to get totally involved in graphic design, and nurtured a lingering love affair with cameras and photography which I had briefly touched earlier in life but had never truly maximized. In sum, I began to have fun with my creative side, which I never knew existed in the way it did.
Our daughter Amy Morgan Baker has that same sort of creative ability, but unlike me she began to take advantage of it much sooner that I did. She is, well, “crafty” and I don’t mean being “sneaky.” If there is a craft show nearby, and she has the time and motivation, she will participate. People love what she does and many times that means monetary gain for her, but that gain is not the real motivation that keeps her “doing her thing” … in my view it’s the joy she receives from seeing other people smile when they see what she has made. Her mother Barb is the same way. Our home is literally full of hand-made quilts, wall hangings and other creative items she made with her skilled hands. Yes, she sometimes follows directions, but more than often she has to adapt as she goes along.
So, I post the above photograph I made recently, exclusively for Amy and Barb. May they long continue their creativeness in all they do, and as a result bring as much joy as possible into the lives of others.
True, today is definitely NOT a time for cigarettes, but not too long ago they were a primary part of American life…health hazards then either unknown or ignored. One of the most famous brands was Lucky Strike. The center of the American tobacco was essentially the Piedmont Region of Virginia and North Carolina, with the City of Reidsville, NC being home to a large Lucky Strike factory. Today the remnants of that facility remain, albeit no longer used. The large smokestack with the name of the cigarette formed with white bricks, contrast with the primary red brick structure, and there is the brand icon painted on the side. Together this makes for a nice series of photographs shown here.
Age brings wisdom many say. While that may not always be true, given the person involved, I found that talking to this “old-timer” I recently met while visiting a general store high up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to be an especially enlightening experience. For example, he never once interrupted me while I was speaking, he always kept his eyes on me thus showing interest in what I was saying, and he never once indicated he had other more important things to do than listen and apparently enjoy what I had to say…a simple visitor from the foothills below where he lived. I wish more people were like this old-timer…especially those elected to political office.
Americans and the communities, towns and cities in which they live have for years managed “recycle” programs that involve aluminum and steel containers (cans), cardboard, plastics (bottles, etc), glass (bottles), mixed paper and often other common household refuse. Were these items not to be recycled, they would simply add to the already massive amount of trash being placed in landfills. But, is it that simple? Perhaps not.
When I was working in municipal government in the late 1990s I was told by a high level manager at Waste Industries that so long as items were not mixed (by type) when placed by homeowners in collection curb-side containers then they would be sent to recycle facilities for processing. However, if loads were collected that had steel cans mixed in with aluminum for instance, then that load would most likely be rejected at the processing facility, and then sent to a nearby landfill with the rest of the common trash. It was/is important therefore to place the correct type of material in its proper collection container.
It takes thousands of aluminum cans (at 55 cents per pound per the photo I made recently at a local collection/processing facility) to provide significant financial gain. But, when you add up the total amount of cans being collected and recycled in specific geographic region it makes the process worthwhile…for Waste Industries as an example. As for us doing the actual recycling, it’s perhaps the warm feeling we receive when doing something to protect our environment that is the goal. We get zero financial gain personally, unless of course we want to collect tons of items ourselves…at 55 cents per pound! Still, we do it as a matter of habit these days and that’s good in my opinion. Unfortunately there are still way too many Americans who discard their trash along roads and elsewhere. How many aluminum, plastic and glass drink containers have you seen recently along roads in your community? What makes me very angry is when I see the refuse of a fast-food “kid’s meal” laying on a road shoulder somewhere. It galls me because what these idiot adults (hardly good parents) are doing is teaching their kids that it’s OK to toss their trash out of a car or truck window. Sad…but true.
Not too many years ago I owned a nice Mad River canoe and an even better Wilderness Systems kayak. When our grandkids were small I used to take them canoeing since I could get two easily inside with me at the stern guiding the way, with them splashing paddles and generally having a good time getting wet. I also fished from my canoe but not that much…it was the kayak that served that purpose when I was so inclined. Mostly, however, I spent hours on a nearby lake nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, inside my kayak exploring all sorts of dark coves such as that shown in the second photo. I donated my canoe to a local church group a few years back, and sold my kayak and all it’s nice fishing gear to my neighbor’s brother even more recently. My time “on the water” in such craft is now over…and I miss it. Aging and all that comes with that has caught up with me. So now, as in the first photo below I have to content myself with making photographs of others doing what I used to do…in times past.
I found this old, weather-worn wooden bench with hand-carved writing on it’s top, at a designated historical home near Stuart Virginia. The short story written on top gives one example of the sort of outdoor activities young and old alike enjoyed during the 19th and early 20th Century in America. Here’s what I read. I’d like to try it, but sadly I am far too old!
“One of the nicest things was riding saplings. You go out in the woods or in the edge of the woods and find a sturdy tree that had a young tree growing beside it. Then you’d climb up in the sturdy tree and reach out and get hold of the young tree and jump and it would just let you over to the ground.”