Picturing the Past

Picturing the Past Workshop 08-23-2014Curator Jessica and I put on the first part of a workshop on Picturing the Past at the Athens Public Library Saturday afternoon. She and I talked about how to take photos today with history in mind. (Jessica shot this picture of about half the group).

We asked the participants to go out into the community to shoot photos of things in 2014 that might change or disappear in the future. We’re going to look over their photos mid-week, then have another workshop on Saturday to pull together an exhibit that will appear at the library and at the Athens County Historical Society Museum.

The project was sponsored by the library, the museum and the Ohio Humanities Council. (You can click on the image to make it larger.)

Cold Showers and Sunsets

Ohio sunset 07-29-2013

If travel wasn’t interesting, it wouldn’t be fun. Keep in mind, though, that the phrase “May you have an interesting life” is both a blessing and a curse.

I mentioned yesterday that I had a blast in Athens, but all good times have to come to an end. I waved goodbye to Curator Jessica at the Athens Museum around 7 p.m., which put me right on my planned departure time of 4 p.m., as calculated in Steinhoff Standard Time.

Heading west into the setting sun can be a bit challenging at times, but it finally gave up someplace about 80 miles from my starting point. When it decided to go to sleep, it went quickly.

No No-Smoking, no sale

I had hoped to get as far as Cincinnati, so I started looking for lodging in the Florence, Ky., area, west of there. The first place I checked had only one room available and it was a smoker. No sale.

The second wanted $101. The third was even more proud of its rooms: that chain wanted $139. I didn’t have Friend Anne along this trip, so I couldn’t even pull the old “we’re newlyweds who have had a spat and need separate rooms at a discount to save our marriage” argument.

Just as I was resigned to heading west another hour or so to get to the cheap seats, I spotted a [Name withheld] Motel. It had an older look and the parking lot was filled with at least two dozen 18-wheelers, most of them car haulers. The lobby was a bit smoky. One of the guys behind the front desk sported a fair array of jailhouse tattoos. I hope that’s what they were, because if they weren’t, he overpaid the “artist.”

“How much for a non-smoking room for one person for one night?”


Is it clean?

I can overlook a lot for the difference between $139 and $53.96. “Is it clean?”

“Yep.” (I wasn’t exactly sure his standards and mine were anywhere close, but I handed over my plastic and was awarded Room 251.)

It wasn’t bad. It had extension cords running all over the place to provide enough outlets for modern travelers, but I’d rather have that than no power. The Wi-Fi was fast enough and didn’t require a password. The AC sounded like a jet taking off every time the compressor kicked in, but it did put out cool air. The bed was great.

I set the alarm for 9:45 and slept like a log. I got up, checked my mail and figured I had just enough time to jump in the shower, pack up and be out by the 11 a.m. checkout deadline.

Tub had funky uni-knob

I turned the water on in the tub. It had one of those uni-knobs where you don’t know what the setting is, so I turned it full left and got cold water. I turned it full right and got cold water. I turned on both taps in the sink and got cold water. I was beginning to detect a pattern. I called the front desk. “Does this place not have hot water or does it just take a long time to get to 251?” I asked in what I hoped was a pleasant tone.

“It’s broken,” a harried female voice said, “We have someone on the way to fix it.”

When I got to the lobby, all the trucks had pulled out and there was a zoom of motorcycle riders getting ready to leave. The woman I supposed attached to the earlier harried voice was talking with some guests who were checking out. (She must have gone to the same tattoo artist as the night guy, by the way.) I overheard her saying to a coworker, “I’m not going to have anything in my drawer by the end of the morning.”

“I guess I’m not going to make your day any better,” I said. “The last time I stayed in a hotel without hot water was in 1958. What can we do to make it right?”

“I can knock $20 off,” she said.

“Look, I’m not looking for a free room. I slept very well last night. On the other hand, I’m going to have to smell myself for another six hours. How about we split the cost of the room?”

She agreed, so I got a good night’s sleep for $28.96 instead of $139 at a fancy joint. I don’t think I’ll be going back again, though.

Rain slowed me down

Rest stop somewhere in IL 07-30-2013

When I called Mother to tell her I was rolling west this morning, she warned me that I was going to run into a bunch of rain. I paused to put on a fresh coat of Rain-X on the windshield.

Traffic was light and running smoothly for the most part. My Waffle House breakfast had scarcely settled before the first splatters of rain showed up. The splatters put their hands together and turned into heavy rain. Fortunately, that didn’t last too long. The next three or four hours were just light, steady rain.

Rain at the rest stop snagged me

It wasn’t the rainfall while driving that slowed me down. It was the rainfall when I stopped to take a short nap at an Illinois rest area. I’ve written about how I usually set my alarm for 22 minutes, then wake up refreshed enough to log another three or four hours.

This afternoon I decided I wasn’t THAT sleepy, so I set it for 17 minutes and dozed off to the sound of the rain pounding softly on the roof above me. When the alarm went off, I liked the sound well enough to tack on another 12 minutes.


If I hadn’t needed to get moving, I think I could have dozed to that for hours.

So, I’m back in Cape for a few days. I’m afraid to turn on the hot water tap.

Dawn of Mourning Exhibit in Athens

Athens OH 02-26-2013I was back in Athens, Ohio, on February 26, walking on rain-slicked cobblestones and helping set up my exhibit of photos of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Mourning taken in 1968.

Dawn of Mourning” is presented by Sigma Gamma Rho, Inc. in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences, the Athens Historical Society and Museum, the Foster and Helen Cornwell Lecture Series, University College, the Campus Involvement Center, The Athens Messenger and The Post.

Here is a radio interview the local NPR station, WOUB, did with me. (To be honest, I could only listen to about five minutes of it. I always cringe when I hear myself being interviewed.

Danielle Echols, who has been the Sigma Gamma Rho coordinator on the project, did a great job of keeping me more or less between the lines during the radio program. I could tell she had a basket of questions to ask if I was one of those laconic “Yes, Ma’am,” “No, Ma’am” subjects, but she need not have worried. Rambling is one of my better things.

Photo gallery of show catalog photos.

Here is a catalog of the key images showing a highly emotional day at Ohio University. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.

A Rainy Night in Cape Girardeau

Rainy streets in Cape 02-18-2013Ever wonder why car ads always show wet roads, but it’s never raining? It’s because all the reflections are REALLY neat.  This is southbound on Kingshighway south of Broadway. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

I had to make a run to UPS to send a thumb drive full of photos to the Athen (OH) Historical Society and Museum. When I stopped by there last month, I left off a bunch of photos I took when I worked in Athens back in the late ’60s and early 70s. Friend Jan and I had barely gotten out of town when curator Jessica Cyders pinged me to ask if I thought it would be possible to put together an exhibit on the Martin Luther King National Day of Mourning I shot in 1968 by February 27 to cap off a Black History Month conference. Since Jessica and Danielle Echols were doing to do most of the heavy lifting, I agreed.

I’m flying out to speak to the group at the end of the month, and I’m busy putting together a show catalog right now. It’s neat that someone thinks my old stuff is worth sharing.

Tuesday I’m supposed to speak to a historical preservation class at Southeast Missouri State University. I threw in a lot of new Cape-specific stuff this afternoon, so what I say is going to be as big a surprise to me as it will be to the class.

Stop light at Pacific and Independence

Rainy streets in Cape 02-18-2013After I dropped the drive at UPS, I decided I’d drive around looking for rain art. Photographers always thought life was unfair. Reporters did weather stories by calling the weather bureau, digging out clips about the Last Big Storm and, if they could be bothered, looking out the windows. Photographers had to get their shoes muddy.

Old Traffic Bridge

Rainy streets in Cape 02-18-2013Downtown was kinda blah, so I stopped by what remains of the old Traffic Bridge.

Since I retired, my new contract says that I don’t go hungry, get wet or lift heavy objects. These photos were all taken from inside my van with the heater running.

Haarig or Good Hope

Rainy streets in Cape 02-18-2013The wind and rain were really whipping from the south when I paused on Good Hope looking west toward Sprigg. It was coming across the road in sheets.

Pacific looking south from SEMO

Rainy streets in Cape 02-18-2013

I figured I’d better scope out where I’m supposed to be presenting Tuesday, so I went up Pacific to the Carnahan Building. On the way back I tried to capture the rain coming up the street and down the hill.  These are the times I envy the TV guys with their video. It’s tough to get across the concept of driving rain in a still.

Through the windshield

Rainy streets in Cape 02-18-2013When an oncoming car lit up the water droplets on the windshield, the camera’s autofocus thought that’s what I wanted to shoot. It’s neat, and I’m glad it happened, but it wasn’t my target.