I Only Borrow the Souls

One of the most rewarding things about doing this blog is the opportunity to connect readers with their pasts. I’ve been asked a lot of times over the years how to take pictures. Most of the times I dismiss the question by saying something like, “I walk in, draw a box around a tiny segment of time, then walk out.”

Or, I might paraphrase Bob Greene, a Chicago columnist, “I make people love me for 28 minutes, then I steal their souls.”

Doing this blog has taught me that I didn’t really ‘steal” the souls. I merely borrowed them for three, four or five decades. Now I’m returning them.

When I started circulating photos I had taken in Smelterville in the mid-60s, one of them made it into the hands of Fay Powders. It was her mother, and it was the only photograph she has of her. Watch the video to hear Fay talk about it.

Cheating death

When I ran the story about Lester Harris, a SW Bell repairman who would cheat death by dangling from a cable chair suspended over the Diversion channel (a cable that had probably been damaged by people shooting at it), family, friends and coworkers all shared stories about the man. He was also featured in a story about stock car racers at Arena Park.

I particularly like this one from Jennifer Adams: Lester Harris is my grandpa. I live next to him and when I came home today he was telling me all about this. He always told me stories of him working for Southwestern Bell but never saw pictures of it until today. Thanks for posting these pictures!!”

Lester’s daughter, Sandy Harris Lyke, sent this update September 24, “My Dad has been very ill this past year. He could use all the prayers people want to send his way.

“Great operator, greater father”

Judy Finley spotted her dad operating a crane in a story about construction projects at SEMO. I’m using that photo and quote in my Altenburg presentation.

When I shot pictures of the last days before The Palm Beach Post farmed out its award-winning production department, I wrote, “I’ve always believed that every worker should be able to show his or her kids and grandkids what they did for a living.”

 

 

16 Replies to “I Only Borrow the Souls”

  1. Hi Ken,
    Please take us off your subscription list for now. We are leaving AT&T and going with new provider. We will be changing our email addresses and resubscribing at a later date.
    Judith Bader Jones
    Fowler C. Jones

  2. Ken,
    Please remove me from your subscription list. As my wife notified you we are making changes and will go with different email addresses. Will resubscribe later.
    Fowler C. Jones

  3. Ken, seeing people “at work” makes them so real. My favorite picture of my dad was one that ran in the Marquette Cement magazine when I was young. He was doing his “job” in the pack house. All the family pictures were great, but that was the real BJ Crites for over forty years every day. The pictures you have taken do capture the real people in so many venues. Wish I could be in MO when you do the Altenburg show. Have fun with the experience and keep thosepictures coming.

  4. Wow, what an interview with Fay Powers. Between that and the picture I feel like I know the lady. Thanks Ken for sharing your talent with us all.

  5. thank you for my mother, what a God send. I can remember
    seeing what we call telegram lineman working on lines in the picture above, you make my heart smile with all this history. I love it and thank God for you.

    Fay Powders

    1. Fay,

      I can’t thank you enough for spending time with me. I can’t think of anything I’ve done as a photographer that has meant more to me than being able to give you that photo of your mother.

  6. Harriet Smith said it for me too. Love getting to share all these moments I have enjoyed for years now. What an incredible tribute to your work!

  7. the first house i remembered growing up was on south fredderick..507. so smelterville wasn’t that far away.
    i went to school with fay..great to see you!

  8. The house behind Billy Beal is my house & mother’s house, the one with the gate & fence. I enjoy living there.

  9. This is a very interesting video, however, I do not recognize the either women. But the pens on the front of her dress is very familiar; women used to do that a lot. Thanks for the dvd. May I ask: Is there something fulfilling for you in going back to those events?

    1. When I retired from the newspaper business in 2008, I started looking back over the stuff I had been shooting for the past half-century and realized that what I had once shot as news had turned into history.

      It is rewarding when I can share photographs that, for the most part, have never been seen. Kids and grandkids are finding out things about family members they never knew.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *