Old Man’s Cave

Old Man's Cave 01-24-2013

I don’t care how much you like your job, there are days when you get hit with the “I gotta get outta town blues.” The great thing about being a newspaper photographer was that you had a ready-made excuse to cruise. When I got that “gotta get out of Athens” feeling, I’d either call Ruthie, our Logan bureau reporter, and say “Need anything shot in Hocking County?” or I’d tell Messenger Photographers Chuck or Bob, “I’m headed up to Logan today.” Nobody much cared where you went so long as you brought back a picture for the next day’s paper.

Hocking County was the home of Old Man’s Cave, one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been. Even if other people were around, the gorge twisted and turned so much that it gave you the feeling of being alone. It was a place of beauty in any season, but it became magical when the dripping water and waterfalls turned to ice in the winter.

Lila had a winner

Lila Steinhoff photos of Old Man's Cave 04-20-1970There was some kind of photojournalism conference in Ohio where spouses could enter a photo contest. Wife Lila selected this one shot at Old Man’s Cave on April 20, 1970. I’ve always liked the image of a child running across the bridge at the bottom of the gorge. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to get the photo entered. You don’t need some judge to give it a ribbon, it’s a winner in my book. I’d be happy to have MY name under it.

A younger Ken at Devil’s Bathtub

Lila Steinhoff photos of Old Man's Cave 04-20-1970She also caught a much younger me photographing the Devil’s Bathtub.

The Bathtub looks the same

Old Man's Cave 01-24-2013The Devil’s Bathtub looks much the same in 2013. I, alas, do not.

Fun to share with friends

Old Man's Cave 01-24-2013No telling how many people I hauled up to the area during my stay in Athens. Even though it took us quite a few miles off our path from Ohio to Cape, I couldn’t resist giving Friend Jan a look at the place.


Old Man's Cave 01-24-2013I had another case of those get outta town blues in the early 1970s in Florida. I took off with no destination in mind. Lila either couldn’t come with me or she saw the crazy look in my eyes and decided this might be a trip better taken solo. I picked roads at random until I finally ended up on Cedar Key, a tiny spit of land sticking out into the Gulf of Mexico more than half-way up the state.

Walking down the main (probably only) drag, I thought I spotted a familiar face. It turned out to be former Central High School debate partner John Mueller. He had the same desire to escape from his job reporting for the Associated Press in Tallahassee as I had to get away from The Palm Beach Post for a weekend.

There is no telling where Cape Girardeans will turn up.

Grandma Gatewood

Grandma Gatewood walking through the Hocking Hills in OhioThis is also the place I shot Grandma Gatewood when part of the trail was dedicated to her.

Photo gallery of Old Man’s Cave

Black and white photos were taken in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The color shots were from our recent visit January 24, 2013. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.

Drive In and Drive On

Hocking Hills Drive-In Logan OH 01-24-2013

After we left Athens, Ohio, I wanted to pass through some of my old haunts, so we headed north toward Nelsonville, Logan and Old Man’s Cave. Just past the 595 exit on Rt. 33, I looked to the right and spotted the remains of the Hocking Theater. I was going too fast to stop, so I blew right past it. Knowing that there are a couple of readers who are drive-in nuts, I  drove five miles to the next exit to turn around and head back to it.

I probably should have gotten off at the 595 exit and gone exploring like this guy did in 2003, but we had miles to go, so I made do with a shot from the main road. (You can click on it to make it larger.)

It’s in both better AND worse shape than the drive-in at Bloymeyer.

Bad vibes at No-Tell Motel

I’ll write about some of our other Ohio stops, but I’ll jump ahead to our search for a motel in Louisville, Ky.

Friend and passenger Jan Norris told me before we left on our grand journey that she likes to plan where she’s going to stay. I said that my plans change on a whim, so I drive until I get tired, then start looking for the best place at the lowest price. We agreed to be flexible.

When it became obvious that we weren’t going to make it into Cape before midnight, and because the weather forecasts all called for ugly stuff to start falling out of the sky around midnight and to continue on through the night, I told her to set her sights on Louisville. She pulled out her computer and, with much pecking and pausing, announced that she had found us two inexpensive, highly-reviewed, non-smoking rooms in a chain hotel that had been recently remodeled.

Jan’s going to check it out

When we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed several things: the parking lot was almost empty; the curtains had that “old” look, and the metal-clad doors had an awful lot of dents and dings in them. Jan said she’d ask to look at a room before we committed.

My bad vibes multiplied when a sign on the lobby directed us to another door where we had to talk to the clerk through a slit in what looked like bulletproof glass. She wouldn’t give us a key to inspect a room unless I left my driver’s license as security. I don’t know if she thought we were a couple of AARP members in search of a free spot to unleash our passions or if she was afraid we were going to steal the towels. Given our wrung-out, road-worn looks, I’m going to put my money on the latter.

The room was about half a block away, give or take, and on the third floor reachable by an elevator that had graffiti scratches on the walls. The rooms all opened to the outside, so it was a cold, windy walk. The room itself was clean, but so small you couldn’t have swung a bob-tailed cat in it.

We both reached the same conclusion: it was time to move on. I told Jan I’d get the car and warm it up while she got my license back. I only regret that she didn’t return the key to the desk clerk smoking a cigarette and sporting a glow and a big smile. Maybe then she wouldn’t have been strip-searched for hidden towels.


Waking Up to Snow

Athens Snow 01-24-2013The world was white when I looked out my Athens hotel room window this morning. I didn’t see the official reading, but I’m going to guess we got less than half an inch. It was a very dry snow. You can click on the photos to make them larger.

Van was covered

Athens Snow 01-24-2013

My van had an impressive covering of snow in the parking lot. The desk clerk and I explained to Friend Jan how to use a credit card to clean the ice off your windshield if you don’t have a scraper. (No, Jan, you don’t use the credit card to PAY someone to do it for you…)

Fortunately for her, the snow was so dry that the windshield wipers swiped it right off.

We didn’t make it to Cape Thursday night. We stopped at too many neat places along the way. My brain is too fried to try to post them tonight. You’ll see them in the days to come.

Covering Simon and Garfunkel

When I shot this photo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel in concert at Ohio University on Oct. 29, 1968 (if you can believe the negative sleeve), I didn’t know then that the body language might be a hint of the breakup of the duo coming just two years later.

The two singers met in elementary school in 1953 (where they appeared in the school play Alice in Wonderland) and recorded their first record as Tom and Jerry in 1957. The went off to separate colleges, but got together after Paul Simon wrote some folk songs, including one dedicated to murdered civil rights worker Andrew Goodman. Goodman had been a friend of both men and a classmate of Simon’s at Queen’s College. They cut Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which initially flopped when it was released in 1964.

Is THIS Paul Simon?

I recognized Garfunkel right away, and the sleeve was tagged Simon and Garfunkel, but this guy didn’t look like the Paul Simon I was used to seeing. I wondered if he was a backup singer. It wasn’t until I covered up the scraggly beard and mustache that I saw Paul emerge. His eyes and nose definitely give him away.

Simon and Garfunkel were at their peak

After a few stumbles, they caught fire. The single Sound of Silence became a #1 hit in 1966 and the album by that title made it to #21. Wednesday Morning came back and climbed to #30. The songs kept coming in 1966: Homeward Bound; I Am A Rock; The Dangling Conversation; Parsley, Sage Rosemary & Thyme; A Hazy Shade of Winter. They definitely provided the soundtrack of our lives that year and for the next few.

Mrs. Robinson was the biggie

In January, 1968, Mike Nichols’ film The Graduate was released. Peter Bart wrote in a May 15, 2005, issue of Variety that Nichols had been obsessed with S & G’s music while he was shooting the film and had producer Larry Turman cut a deal with Simon to write three new songs for the movie.

By the time they were nearly finished editing the film, Simon had written only one new song. Nichols begged him for more but Simon, who was touring constantly, told him he didn’t have the time. He did play him a few notes of a new song he had been working on; “It’s not for the movie… it’s a song about times past—about Mrs. Roosevelt and Joe DiMaggio and stuff.” Nichols advised Simon, “It’s now about Mrs. Robinson, not Mrs. Roosevelt.”

Personal tensions and creative differences caused a strain that reached its breaking point during the production of their last album, Bridge Over Troubled Water in 1970. The album was originally supposed to contain twelve songs, but Simon refused to record a Garfunkel pick and vice versa. It was finally released with only eleven songs on it.

What do I remember about the concert?

Not a lot. When you’re shooting something like this, you have all your visual senses working. You’re concerned about angles, light, shutter speeds – technical stuff – not the music. I’m sure they played all the favorites, but I don’t know that I actually heard any of them.

I learned early on that I couldn’t count on being the best shooter at an event: I had to be the one who showed up earliest, stayed the latest and was willing to scout out the odd positions. I’d cover myself by shooting the standard, “safe” shot, then go looking for the unusual.

I took these high-angle photos from the lighting catwalks high above the concert floor. You don’t ask permission to do something like that because people will find a dozen ways to turn you down. If you just do it, though, everybody assumes that it must be OK.

Not every shot works. This one doesn’t, but you don’t know until you try. It’s always a mistake not to push the button when your instinct tells you to. Something drew your eye there, and if you don’t shoot it at that moment, the magic will leak out if you stop to think about it. You can always discard; you can’t recreate.

Look at the audience

I was surprised to see how well-dressed the audience was. This is a folk-rock concert, so you’d expect to see a lot of casual hippie-type clothing, but most of the guys have on suit coats, if not ties. Hair lengths are Kennedyesque, not shoulder-length. Skirts are delightfully short.

Other concert photos

Simon and Garfunkel photo gallery

There are a lot of “magic moment” photos in this selection that I knew at the time would never make it into the paper, but were recorded anyway. Now that I’m not constrained by the cost of dead trees and ink, you’ll get to see them. Like I said before, most of them don’t work, but they do give you some insight into my thought process and how a picture evolves. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery. Humming of music is allowed.