Happy New Year!

Now that a new year is upon me, I have several “hopes” in mind for 2012. First, I hope for good health for me and my family. Next, I want to learn more about how to make my photography better and more interesting. Third, I want to be a better person in terms of relating to others…those I know well and those I may meet for the first time. I also want to be a better husband, now that I have been married for 50 years…today being our anniversary. Lastly, and most important, I want to continue to improve my religious faith. This photograph depicts two things to me. First, in the background is a very large, old oak tree and a historic building…signifying my past; while the colorful, vibrant bushes in the foreground reflect the present, with hopefully a bright future ahead.

May you all have a wonderful 2012!

In the weeds…

Driving along a rural, two-lane North Carolina highway recently, I spotted this old farmhouse sitting way back off the highway. I kept on driving and soon regretted not having stopped to see if I could make a photo of it…so I turned around and went back. I had to trudge through some pretty wet ground to get up close, and then was confronted with lots of knee-high weeds, none of which I really wanted to walk through. So, I got as close as I wanted and captured this scene. I have written before that one thing I always wonder about when photographing old homes such as this, is who lived there and what were they like. Given the size of this two-story home, with two fireplaces, I suspect it was a fairly prosperous farm at one time…but I’ll never really know.

Still Hanging On…

These somewhat poor looking daisies are still hanging on close to our home. The unusually warm weather we’ve been having is responsible. When I was a kid growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, we used to call these flowers, “She-loves-me-she-loves-me-not.” Anyone else remember that? I always got “she loves me not.”

What you see is not always what you get

When I visited the community of Summerfield, NC recently, the first thing I wanted to photograph was the Town Hall (above). It’s an historic late 1800’s vintage building, and just looking at it alone would make one believe that the center of Summerfield was a bustling town. And then, I photographed the remainder of the town’s center (below). Summerfield is really nothing more today than a relatively upscale “bedroom” community for many working in Greensboro, NC.

There’s an interesting story about how I found this historic location. My wife and I were coming home to our home in Virginia after shopping in Greensboro, and we were forced to take a detour because of a car wreck on the road we usually traveled. That detour took us right by the Summerfield Town Hall and the two buildings seen here, and I said to my wife, “I have to come back and make some photos here someday.” And that I did.

Oak Ridge NC Military Academy

I like the quote above the main doors on the Oak Ridge North Carolina Military Academy chapel. Besides that, I was drawn to the soft, orange colored light reflected in the windows on either side of the doors. Sunlight was coming through side windows inside the chapel, and I positioned myself so I got some of that light in my composition. The last time I visited Oak Ridge, I had an opportunity to speak with some of those in charge. I was told that the economy has been especially tough on military academies such as Oak Ridge over the past decade, and what once was a rather large institution, has now shrunk to near 150 students, up to 12th grade. But, it remains open and is helping prepare North Carolina youth for greater things in life.

Red Hat Ladies at Christmas Time

As my granddaughter Molly and I were walking through the main lobby of the Hotel Roanoke looking at all the beautiful Christmas decorations recently, we spotted a group of ladies in the hotel’s main dining room eating lunch together. They each wore red hats and if you look closely you can see one in the middle. Obviously not being a part of this tradition, it’s my understanding that these usually older ladies gather for lunch in cities and towns across America while wearing various sorts of “red” hats…most being of a kind hardly seen elsewhere. Not wanting to go inside the dining room and make a nuisance of myself taking pictures, I just looked through this window while standing in the hallway and got the scene I wanted.

Cafe Cafe

There is not much of a story behind this simple photo, other than I immediately saw a photo composition as I came near. The “Cafe-Cafe” is what caught my eye, as did the sunlight coming from the left. As I wander about with a camera these days I tend to look at many things as being possible photo opportunities. Some call that having a “photographic eye”, but in my case it’s probably more simplistic than anything truly artistic. Main point is if I like it that’s all that matters.

Childhood Memories of Steam Train Travel

This sidewalk mosaic located at one of the doorways to the historic City Market in Roanoke, Virginia brought back childhood memories for me when I saw it recently. When I was a child I rode many steam-powered trains from city to city with my parents as we moved about. Journey via train was then the best (perhaps only) way to travel. Several things stick in my mind still today.

First, the terror I felt while holding tight to my mother’s hand as we walked along the train platform toward our assigned coach and near the massive engine, with its loud, hissing steam being ejected from vents next to the main driving wheels. Secondly, our large warm and comfortable seats in the coach, and a nice guy sitting near us and who demonstrated a few magic tricks with coins. And lastly, the train porters who helped us board, who carried our bags, and who walked the aisles during the trip seeing if there was anything we wanted. To me, they and other train personnel in their fresh crisp uniforms made me wish to perhaps someday do the same thing they were doing. Aside: I did in a way…spending almost 30 years wearing an Army uniform.

Minority civil rights then were limited or non-existant depending on where one lived in the country, unfortunately and sadly, but it’s been written historically that during the 1940s and 50s, many blacks attained middle class status by working with railroads as porters. They formed their own unions, gained numerous job benefits otherwise impossible, and in many ways set an example for what would be accomplished later on.

I thought of all this when I saw this mosaic depiction of a Norfolk & Western porter.