Picture Day at Hollister School

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

Now that I think of it, I need to go digging for those negatives. To look for Ralph, of course.


Carol Ann Browning, 1964 Miss Missouri

Carol Ann Browning, Miss Missouri of 1964, paid a visit to Jackson on Aug. 6, 1964, if the date on the negative sleeve is correct. I can’t believe that I don’t remember shooting this beautiful young woman. Click on any photo to make it larger.

I particularly like what’s happening in the background here: the expression on the guy on the right and the oblivious diner in the left  who is dutifully sawing away at his meat.

Awed onlookers

The Cape County Courthouse in Jackson was located across the street from The Jackson Pioneer, the paper I was working for in 1964. I wonder if I saw these women gawking at the hubbub on the courthouse steps and went over to check it out or if I just banged off a frame on the way over to the event.

He has to be a politician

I don’t know who the fellow on the right is, but he has to be a politician (and, if the boy in front of him is his son, I bet he grew up to be a politician, too). Only a politician would mug the camera when he’s four feet away from Miss Missouri.

A story in the Oct. 8, 1999, Nevada Daily Mail said that Miss Browning, a former Miss Eastern Jackson County, was given a two-year college scholarship and the use of a new Oldsmobile for her travels. If every day was as full of grip and grins as this one, I’d say she earned every penny of it.

Larry Winburn won a bet and a date

The Daily Mail story said that Larry Winburn was taunted by a buddy who bet Larry couldn’t get a date with Miss Burns. Larry accepted the challenge and won the date, the bet and the girl. After the Miss America pageant was over, the two got married.

She helped her husband’s father raise greyhound dogs, became a substitute teacher, then served as vice president and president of Nevada’s Boatman’s Bank; in 1998, she left the bank to become an insurance representative and did accounting work at a Sear’s store co-owned with her husband.

Gave free shows behind dad’s hardware store

Miss Browning, her five sisters, two brothers and mother put on free musical shows on a platform behind her dad’s hardware store. They became so popular that they bought a bus and spent much of the summer months and weekends on the road performing.

Her dad, Eugene Browning, died June 5, 2010. His Lee’s Summit Tribune obituary mentioned that the had partnered with Carol Ann, his first-born, to produce a book, Remembering the Browning Family Show – A Father’s Legacy in Photos and Philosophy.