Tuesday, August 31, 2010

House behind church - Madison, Virginia

There is a gravel driveway or alley behind the Beth Car Baptist Church in Madison, and this house sits directly behind the church on the other side of the alley. The building seems a little unusual for a house and may have been used for other purposes at one time. I find the location of the two brick chimneys curious as well. At the time this photo was taken, there was a "for sale" sign in front of the building.

Web Notes

✎ Paul Butzi announced last week that he is closing down his long running blog Musings on Photography. I have followed Paul's writing for several years and have been both instructed and inspired. We wish Paul well.  His last entry was posted August 26th.

✎ Bruce Robbins recently wrote on his blog Photography Matters that "We're all taking too many photographs."  He believes the world is inundated with photos that have little or no meaning or value.
We're all taking far too many [photographs] and they're becoming dangerously devalued. I came to this conclusion when looking at some old family photographs the other day. These are by no means great works of art but they were obviously viewed as important enough to be handed down through the generations. Sixty years ago, having your photograph taken wasn't something that happened every day of the week so people held on to these snaps. That's just not going to happen with most of the stuff we're taking today.
 Read the entire article here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

House next to Methodist church - Madison, Virginia 

This house is located on South Main Street in Madison, next door to the Madison United Methodist Church. Even though the house is in town, there is a large wooded area behind it, and from this angle it looks like a house in the country. Judging by the short windows above in front, and the two windows on the end that rise into the gable, this house does not have a full second story. Without the added height of a full second story, this small house is nicely proportioned.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Late Summer Morning Glory - Greene County, Virginia

All of the "Late Summer" photos this week were from a walk I took last Saturday morning. I carried the Pentax K10D with the Pentax FA 50mm f1.4 lens.

Making successful photographs of visually complex subjects, a tangle of weeds for instance, is very challenging for me and I admire photographers who do it well. Doug Plummer, a west coast photographer, tackles this problem in  a series of photographs called "Stick Pictures" and the results are remarkable. 

Next week we will be back to black and white photos which I just finished scanning in from the Pentax MX. We will be looking at some old houses and an interesting old Feed Store in the town of Madison. Hope you will stop by.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Late Summer Dogwood - Greene County, Virginia

By late August, Summer is about worn out around here.

It is still hot and the trees are still green, but now the leaves look worn and dusty. Shall we declare a fifth season? Late Summer. For another six or eight weeks, until the first frost, the trees will languish between the blossoming health of summer, and the brilliant last fling of Autumn. The dogwoods are offering a little preview of things to come.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Chesapeake Bay Buy Boat - Half Shell 

Buy boats traveled up and down the Chesapeake Bay to buy the daily catch from working fishing boats. With buy boats serving as efficient middlemen between the fishermen and markets, fishing boats could stay on the water longer. The Half Shell is a restored buy boat that now serves as a Living Classroom, providing on-board learning experiences for school children from the Washington D.C. area.

This photo was taken while the Half Shell was docked at Leesylvania State Park, on the Potomac River.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Off to the beach - Colonial Beach, Virginia 

This picture of my daughter was taken around 1977 or 78 during a visit to Colonial Beach. This is one of my favorite pictures of her, even though you cannot see her face. It was May, early in the season, but the sun was out and warm on the pavement. It was going to be a good day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Doc's Motor Court - Colonial Beach, Virginia

First settled in the 17th century, Colonial Beach was incorporated in 1892. Up until the early 20th century the town was a popular resort destination, with most visitors arriving by boat. Eventually the ocean beaches, easily available by automobile, became more popular, and Colonial Beach lost much of its seasonal tourist business.

We associate the word "resort" with recreation and relaxation, but the word also implies refuge, a withdrawal from everyday surroundings and cares.

Let's take a boat to Bermuda.
Let's take a plane to Saint Paul.
Let's take a kayak to Quincy or Nyack,
Let's get away from it all.*

Colonial Beach is a quiet town. In many ways it feels somewhat old-fashioned. Victorian architecture mixes with simple beach cottages from the first half of the 20th century. Five miles across the Potomac, white clouds hang over the Maryland shore. The broad expanse of river enlarges the sky, and it seems as if the Chesapeake Bay must be just around the next bend. It is a good place to get away from it all.

*Lets Get Away From It All - Dennis/Adair - 1941

Monday, August 16, 2010

Captain Billy's Crab House - Pope's Creek, Maryland 

Patrons arrive by boat or car
On a recent Saturday morning, my friend Tom and I headed down the Potomac River for a weekend trip. The first stop was Pope's Creek, Maryland. (There is also a Pope's Creek, Virginia, downstream a few miles.) There has been a crab house located here for as long as I can remember and it is accessible from the land or the river. We anchored here and waded ashore for a quick walk around.

Pope' Creek flows out of a marshy wetland into the Potomac just south of the restaurant.
Pope's Creek

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Country store on Sunday afternoon - 1939 - Dorothea Lange

This photo was taken by Dorothea Lange in July of 1939 in Gordonton, North Carolina for the Farm Security Administration. Scenes like this, once common throughout the South, would soon disappear forever. After World War II, the accelerating consumer culture in the United States would leave these country stores and social gathering places in the dust of history.

Next week I will have pictures from another overnight trip on the Potomac River, including a visit to Colonial Beach, Virginia. I hope you will stop by.

Photo Credit: Library of Congress # LC-USF34- 019911-E

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dunkum Store - Green Springs, Virginia

Summer Reading

Shortly after midnight, on April 15, 1914, Buck Dunkum was awakened by cries of "fire!" and looked out of his bedroom window to see his store engulfed in flame. Later that same morning, Victor Hall was shot in the head and lay fatally wounded in his general store, just across the tracks from the smoldering ruins of Dunkum's store. His wife, Elizabeth Hall, was charged with his murder. The events of that fateful night and the sensational trial that followed are the subject of Murder at Green Springs: The True Story of the Hall Case, Firestorm of Prejudices. The book is a carefully researched account of the murder investigation and trial, and paints a vivid picture of life in rural Virginia at the time of the First World War.

Today, little remains of Green Springs. Rail passenger service ended in 1945 and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad demolished the Green Springs Depot and tore up the siding. Most of the other buildings, including the Hall house and store are gone. In 1914, Dunkum rebuilt his store on the original foundation and it stands vacant next to the tracks which are still in use. The Dunkum house is still occupied.

Murder at Green Springs by J.K. Brandau,  Morgan James Publishing, Garden City, NY - 2007

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Price's Pantry - Orchid, Virginia

Country Stores

My aunt and uncle owned a small store in Giles County, Virginia during the 1950s called L&R Grocery. The store sold groceries and Gulf gasoline.  When I visited in the summer, I would spend part of the day in the store with my uncle. He knew all of his customers by name, and they would often talk for a while, my uncle standing behind the counter with his foot propped up on a stool, and the customer leaning against the Coca-Cola vending machine with its sliding doors on top. Many of the customers bought "on account" and my uncle would record their purchases in a book he kept under the cash register. Occasionally a customer would come in to "settle up."

L&R Grocery was a precursor to the modern convenience store, and at the same time a reminder of the nearly extinct general merchandise store. From Colonial days through the 19th century, the general store was the most common retail outlet in the country. As new areas were settled and towns built, the general store would replace itinerant peddlers. The general store offered a wide variety of goods and services and often operated the Post Office, extended credit and provided rudimentary banking services to the community.

In the 20th century, the general store began to be replaced by smaller, more specialized retailers, like L&R Grocery. By 1967, general stores accounted for less than 3% of all retail outlets in the United States. The small "mom and pop" retailers that displaced the general store would, in turn, be replaced by chain retailers and "big box" stores.

For a 10 year old boy, the dim and cool interior of L&R grocery, with free access to soft drinks and candy was a kind of paradise. Sitting behind the counter with my uncle, I watched through the Merita Bread screen door as the cars approached on Route 100, and tried to guess which ones would stop.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Mountain Store - Criglersville, Virginia 

This old store building is not being used and is for sale. It may have been used as an antique store in the recent past, but the signs and the store-front suggest a much earlier general store. Also notice the embossed ceiling that is visible in the upper part of the photo.

Criglersville is in Madison County, Virginia

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Robinson River Primitive Baptist Church - Brightwood, Virginia 

In 1790, a union of Primitive Baptist worshipers was organized in Madison County, Virginia. The Robinson River Primitive Baptist Church emerged from this group in 1892. Across the road from the church, there is a well-tended cemetery.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Flower and bird bath - Greene County, Virginia 

I will admit it: I am a sucker for flower pictures. It is hard to take a bad picture of a flower (I have done it though) and it is also hard to take a good picture of a flower (but I keep trying).

Anyway, enough of flowers for a while. Next week we will be visiting several country stores in black and white. One of the stores was the scene of a sensational murder in the early 1900s which would become one of the most famous criminal cases in Virginia.

Hope you will stop by for a visit.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wild thistle - Greene County, Virginia

Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men
Thistles spike the summer air
And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.

Every one a revengeful burst
Of resurrection, a grasped fistful
Of splintered weapons and Icelandic frost thrust up

From the underground stain of a decayed Viking.
They are like pale hair and the gutturals of dialects.
Every one manages a plume of blood.

Then they grow grey like men.
Mown down, it is a feud. Their sons appear
Stiff with weapons, fighting back over the same ground.
 - Ted Hughes
Ted Hughes was the British Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Web Notes

Two recent posts on Dory Adam's In This Light blog explore how families remember and honor their dead. In Mountain Cemeteries: Decoration Day, Dory recalls how her family celebrated Decoration Day, or Memorial Day as we now call it. She concludes:
"It gives me a sense of peace knowing my ancestors are at rest in their mountain cemetery while I remember the dead in my own way, planting flowers of remembrance in my own garden here in the city."
In response to Mountain Cemeteries, Maria Clara Paulino writes in a guest post about her own family and the cemeteries of Portugal. The cultures are different and Portugal's "Cities of the Dead" bear little resemblance to country cemeteries in the West Virginia mountains, but the response to memory and loss is familiar.
"Since my mother died three years ago, my father spends a good hour every Sunday making sure the marble is washed gleaming white and the vases are filled to the brim with my mother's favorite flowers."

Visit In This Light and read both posts.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

South River United Methodist Church - Greene County, Virginia

The original South River United Methodist church was built in 1846. In about 1902, after being damaged by repeated flooding of the South River, the building was torn down and rebuilt further from the river.
The church is still active.