When Mister O’Dell opened up his “trading post” I suspect he did so using an old building that once had been a service (gas) station, given it’s design and location along a small highway in SW Virginia. I see that a lot around here…old gas stations having been converted to some other use…mostly short-lived…as is the case with O’Dells. I wondered exactly what it was that he “traded” and given what I saw laying about he got the worst of the deals he made. Another thing that caught my eye was the “friendly, welcoming” appearance of the place…noting the number of signs I saw. No matter, it made for a nice stop on one of my photo trips.
Category Archives: Photo Stories
As I travel around seeking to find photo-worthy (now that’s an interesting word, eh?) opportunities for my camera lens, I will start making photos in one location, only to find something different nearby which I had not earlier seen. That’s the case here with these two images. I had targeted an old house which had an interesting architectural style, when I noticed that behind the home there was an old storage shed that was, well, full of clutter. In fact, the shed was literally falling down…thus creating more clutter. People were still living in the home and I did not know if they were there as I was wandering around their property. Thankfully, they were not. There was such a contrast between the relatively nice looking home and the items in the back yard, that I wondered why they kept it that way. Maybe they figured no one would see the clutter…but I did, and I think it made for some interesting photography.
Here are two examples of the sort of architectural details seen frequently in America early in the 20th Century…but hardly today. I found an old bank building which has now been converted into a community activity center, and even in that capacity it seems to be rarely used today. There were a couple of aspects of the building that caught my eye. First, the tall roman columns on the front of the building, capped by intricate scroll work as seen in the first photo below. The second was the flooring inside the building seen in the second photo. I assume that the separation between the octagonal ceramic tiles and the worn pine flooring was where the banks’s service counter once stood. I wonder how many customers waited in line at the location where I focused my camera, through the front window of the building. We certainly have an interesting past in the United States…if we’ll just look for it.
This is the back deck of our neighbor’s house, home to a person I’ll call “George of the Green Thumb.” His deck is a bit cluttered especially at this time of year when he devotes all of his energies to “making things grow.” He is an all organic gardener, and uses seeds gathered from last year’s crops of various vegetables and wild flowers. One might call him a “hoarder” (he calls himself that all the time) and he makes maximum long term use of whatever natural and well-used man-made materials that come his way. I believe my photo proves this point. No matter, George is perhaps the most deliberate and successful gardener I know…even if his ways are a bit cluttered. So, while George was away somewhere I wandered over to his back porch and made this image. I thought it describes George very well. He is a retired lawyer by the way and a very nice person. “George of the Green Thumb” he most definitely is as well.
There is one thing in this image of an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger I made recently that is very uncommon today. Do you see it? Yes, the pipe. I remember when I entered the Army in 1963 (yes, Army Corps of Engineers) and I’d say just about 100% of us smoked, not chewed, tobacco of some sort. Most used cigarettes, but there were many who chose a cigar or pipe. I smoked cigarettes but experimented from time to time with a pipe. I recall one such time when I overdid it with the pipe, by smoking bowl after bowl of tobacco because I never could keep the darn thing to stay lit. As a result, I burned the tip of my tongue…so much so that I never put a pipe near my mouth again. I did the same thing with cigarettes in the mid-1970s. Regardless of the clearly obvious health hazards of tobacco use, there is something nostalgic about seeing someone smoking a pipe. It looks so relaxing, and like this park ranger taking a break from his work activities, seems to convey being a peace with himself and the world.
As an aside, I made this image at Martinsville Speedway during race weekend April 5th. The park ranger was there along with others who had set up a display promoting usage of the local Corps of Engineers recreational facility at Philpott Lake Dam and Reservoir near Bassett, Virginia. Wonderful place to visit.
Sometimes we see something that makes us chuckle a bit. This is one such scene that made me laugh, but I understood fully why the road sign had been placed where it was. This hydrant is located next to a wooded area in our neighborhood and up until this year the hydrant had been partially covered with yard clippings and debris placed there by those living nearby. County officials apparently decided that by marking the hydrant as they did with this street sign, that people would stop placing their yard debris in the area. It worked. An interesting photo if for no other reason being its uniqueness.
This is Louie. He’s a two-foot tall Vermont Teddy Bear and is about the most friendly huggy bear ever. As you can see, he likes to wear one of my hats from time to time, just to show off his good looks. This one is his favorite and I have to admit it gives him an adventurous look; and as you will now learn, Louie does have his wandering ways. He normally sits on “his” chair, keeping the cats from sleeping on the nearby bed during the day getting loose hair all over, and then faithfully watching over me at night while I sleep. I tried for awhile letting Louie sleep in bed with me at but he snores loudly and steals the sheets. While our two cats like Louie, he’s not so fond of them and they know it.
As I mentioned above, Louie has a wanderlust about him and this morning when I woke up I noticed he was missing off his chair. I first rounded up the cats and had a talk with them seeking to find out if they knew what had happened to Louie or perhaps as a prank had kidnapped him during the night and carried him off somewhere so they could climb into bed with me and cozy up, loose hair and all. They denied any involvement, gave me a “how dare you accuse us of such a terrible thing” look, hissed at me and with tails pointed high pranced away to sulk. (I knew they’d be back soon because it was getting close to the time for them to be fed). Anyway, I determined Louie was in fact just plain missing.
After looking around the house some more and not finding Louie anywhere, I glanced out the kitchen window and there he was sitting on a limb in one of our dogwood trees out back looking at me with a gleam in his eyes and I am sure joy in his little Vermont Teddy Bear heart, because he had finally found a way to escape the boring confines of the bedroom.
I noticed he had removed the leather medallion he normally wears around his neck (see first photo), probably so it did not get tangled up while he was climbing the tree. I went out to get him, laughing all the way, and he was so happy to see me he leaped off the limb into my arms as I neared the tree. Walking back together with him hugging me tightly, I asked him where he might go on his next walk-about as he had done earlier today, as the sun was rising but before his “people” were awake. He just stared at me with his glassy eyes most likely thinking that was his business and not mine.
I trust my brief tale of Louie will warm your heart, just as telling it has done to mine today. Louie is special to me and never ever refuses being hugged…when I need a good one. Louie has relatives at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company…lots of them, big and small, each loved and cherished by people of all ages. I highly recommend looking onto adopting one as I did. You will not regret it…except if you get one that learns how to drive your car!
It was a hot, humid 90-degree day when I decided to go visit the base of a large lake dam near our home in SW Virginia. When I arrived I noted that water was being released from gates at the base of the dam, into the Smith River below. This is done periodically to help the natural habitat of the trout-laden river, which is not only a popular place to fish, but also to kayak. When water levels rise, rapids result and kayakers love that. Anyway, the closer I came to the river while walking down a steep slope I noticed how the air temperature was rapidly dropping, and when I put my hands in the river it felt like ice water. As the cold water mixed with warmer air further down from the dam, a misty fog began to appear…as you can see if you look carefully at the top center in the photo below. While walking along the riverbank, it was as if I were in an air conditioned valley…the coolness all being supplied by nature…a wonderful experience. But then I eventually had to climb up the steep riverbank to where my car was parked and that brought me back to reality. It was, however, fun while it lasted…and the “air conditioning” was free.
It’s at this time of year when we begin what I’ll call “festival time” in the U.S. as communities all over celebrate just about whatever it is they want to celebrate…you name it. Some are small with attendees in the hundreds while others are large with many thousand coming from near and far to enjoy fellowship with others, homemade local foods, kid rides and games, arts and crafts, and usually some sort of music. Where we live in SW Virginia, the latter is of a “bluegrass” variety and this photo shows one such singer who was headlined at the Town of Fieldale Virginia’s 2012 Heritage Festival I attended a week ago. Around 2000 attended on Saturday alone and for here that was a pretty good crowd.