Missourian photographer Fred Lynch left a comment on my post about Paul Lueuders showing up at Central High School to take homeroom photos for the Girardot: “When I was in high school, I always liked working alongside a group photographer. I would take pictures of the kids ‘getting ready’ to be photographed when they didn’t think anyone was watching, or taking their picture.”
That got me to thinking about this picture page I did for The Athens Messenger November 8, 1968. The original assignment was to go to Hollister School to capture kids being vaccinated or something, but it turned out that local studio photographer Ralph Norris was there to shoot student photos, so I switched gears.
Once you got out of the Ohio University-dominated Athens and out into the county, you were in Appalachia, where poverty and worked-out coal mines were found down every back road. When I see people walking down the street sporting “Hollister” labels, I have a different picture in my mind than they do. (Like always, you can click the pix to make them bigger.)
Slicked-back hair and shiny faces
Like Fred wrote, it was fun to sit back and watch Ralph work with the kids. He had a gentle touch and put the children at ease. He wasn’t the master photographer Paul Lueders was, but he was a decent craftsman who had been doing his job for years.
My copy was short and sweet on the page: “Slicked-back hair and shiny faces were the order of the day at Hollister School Wednesday. That’s when photographer Ralph Norris came to take everybody’s picture. Here’s how it was.”
Pretty girls and a crown
Ralph and I would cross paths from time to time. He was a nice guy who was fun to talk with. I don’t think we ever exchanged any heavy thought, but I do owe him big for one piece of advice he gave me.
Covering Miss Rutabaga or something
He was the official photographer for some local pageant. I don’t remember if it was Miss Athens County or Miss Rutabaga or whatever. All I know is that it involved pretty girls and a crown. I went to the swimming pool to shoot the bathing suit competition. Hey, newspaper photographing is a tough job.
Now that I think back, I don’t know how I got the pageant assignment. That had boss Bob Rogers written all over it. He must have been out of town.
Anyway, Ralph pulled me over to the side and said, “It’s become kind of a tradition for the girls to throw me in the pool after I take the group shot, so you might want to be prepared to get wet – you know how all those photographers look alike – or to beat feet while they’re distracted by me.”
I managed to get a shot of him making a big splash, then exited quickly.
I should go look for those negatives