Cuba? No, Cairo. The Illinois One

Cairo car 03-28-2016My tummy was growling for the catfish dinner at Shemwell’s Barbecue in Cairo, and it was a race between which was going to come first: closing time at the restaurant or sunset. Maybe it was all the Cuba coverage with photos of vintage cars on the street that made me unusually car-aware, but suddenly I had to go around the block to take a second look at this guy parked next to a long-closed gas station.

It would have been nice to show more of the car, but there was a John boat parked alongside it that blocked most of it. Click on the photos to make them larger.

What is it?

Cairo car 03-28-2016When it comes to cars, I have a tenuous grip on my man card. Other guys could sit around for hours talking about their car’s innards: stuff about cubic inches, horsepower, turbo this and glass-packed that.

I only needed to know two things: (A) Will it get me there? and, (B) Will it get me back?

(A), in fact, was the more important to a news photographer. If I accomplished (A) and got the photo, then there was always somebody who would retrieve me (or, at least, retrieve the film).

What are we looking at?

Cairo car 03-28-2016I’m sure somebody will tell me more than I ever wanted to know about this vehicle.

Digging deep into my automotive knowledge, I’m pretty sure it ain’t gonna get me there.

A bonus point for anyone who can look at the gas station and tell what brand they sold.

David Louis Motel Sign

David Louis Motel SignHere’s another dip into the Terry Hopkins General Sign box.

When I was doing daily picture pages at The Athens Messenger, I had a technique for having an easy day. I’d shoot something like a old general store and run an outside photo on Monday with the caption, “Tomorrow we’ll go inside.” That let me get a two-fer out of the story.

This is going to be somewhat like that. Today we’ll look at a sign advertising the David Louis Motel, a name that didn’t stick around long. The next day, we’ll go into the history of the renamed motel and see photos of what is there today. You can click on the photos to make them larger.

My perspective has changed

David Louis Motel SignI spent years editing my shooting session down to the most striking and story-telling image and ignoring the rest because newspaper space was finite.

Hanging around with museum folks like Carla Jordan in Altenburg and Curator Jessica in Athens has given me a totally different perspective: I crop more loosely to keep background objects visible and I run more photos that are similar but contain slightly different details. It’s those little details that I used to crop out that contain valuable historical information.

This is a good example. The picture at the top of the page shows the sign best, but looking off to the left edge of the frame above shows the old Alvarado service station and restaurant with its sign proclaiming “The Best in Foods” on its side.

Ward’s Big Star

David Louis Motel SignA frame from a slightly different angle shows the yellow sign for Ward’s Big Star Super Market at the left. I can remember going in there lots of times with Mother.

The store must have been getting bread deliveries: that’s a Hart’s Bread truck on the left and a Bunny Bread truck on the right.

The two red trucks are from Central Asphalt. I thought maybe they were paving the parking lot, but the lot is full of cars.It looks like they may be working behind Ward’s.

There’s no date stamp on the slide mounts. Anybody want to guess about when it was taken based on the cars in the photos?

The trees are devoid of leaves, so it must be either fall or winter. The day is warm enough that the man driving by has his window down, but chilly enough that he’s wearing a long-sleeve shirt.