Friday, September 30, 2011

Backyard - Ruckersville, Virginia 

Baseball's regular season is over, and what an ending it was.
At the beginning of September, the playoff berths in both leagues seemed secure and the final weeks of the season promised little drama. Statistically, the season was all but over, but then the Red Sox and Braves both managed to string together a series of losses that destroyed their wild card lead and opened the door for the  Rays and Cardinals to stage the most remarkable September comebacks in the history of the game. It was all wildly improbable.

Baseball is not a game of statistics, it is a game that defies statistics. That's what makes it so much fun.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Island Ford - Rockingham County, Virginia 

I came across this curious little board and batten building in the Shenandoah Valley back in the spring. It is located next to the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks a few miles south of Elkton. The location and general appearance of the building make me suspect that it may have had some connection to the railroad at some point in the past, but I have not been able to identify the building or learn anything of its history. It appears to be unoccupied, but is in reasonably good condition.

The tracks through Island Ford were originally part of the Shenandoah Valley Railroad, which operated from 1867 to 1890. The section from Elkton to Waynesboro was completed in 1880, and the line continued southward, reaching Roanoke in 1882. The tracks are now part of the Norfolk Southern system.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Currituck Beach Lighthouse - Currituck County, North Carolina 

I hope none of my friends in North Carolina were offended by my "chigger city" remark in yesterday's post. The truth of the matter is that coastal North Carolina is beautiful this time of year. The crowds are gone, the air is cool and the autumn light has a special glow.

The photo above was taken in early October of 2008 from the grounds of the Whalehead Club in Corolla. In the background is the 1875 Currituck Beach Lighthouse, which is still in operation.

The Art Nouveau style Whalehead Club was completed in 1925. It is now owned by Currituck County and is part of the Currituck Heritage Park

Monday, September 26, 2011

Accidental abstract - Currituck County, North Carolina 

Let me start by saying that I did not take this picture. In fact, nobody took this picture.

Several years ago, in early October, I was hiking with my friend in North Carolina. The camera was on a strap over my shoulder, and at some point during the day, the camera managed to snap a few shots on its own. Something must have bumped the shutter release as I was walking along with the camera bouncing at my side.

If I had known my camera could take photos without me I would have stayed home that day and not been eaten alive by chiggers.

 Chigger City, North Carolina

Friday, September 23, 2011

Gone to seed - Greene County, Virginia 

Today is the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere. Summer is over, although warm weather will linger for a few more weeks. Soon the woods will turn yellow and red and gold. It is a time for gathering in and storing up for the long winter when night falls early, and the flowers of summer are gone

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

The last days of summer - Greene County, Virginia 

On my way to work one morning last week I stopped to take a few pictures in the early morning light slanting across the fields along the road. The weeds and wildflowers are unusually prolific and colorful this year. Autumn is in the air, the dogwoods are starting to turn color and the last days of summer are upon us.

Friday, September 16, 2011

In this place: Pearisburg, Virginia

Giles County Courthouse - Pearisburg, Virginia 

Pearisburg was founded in 1806 on 53 acres located on a terrace between the foot of Angel's Rest mountain and the New River. The Federal style courthouse was constructed in 1836 and is the second oldest surviving building in town. The central portion of the building is the original courthouse. The flanking wings and Corinthian portico were later additions.

Angel's Rest

The First National Bank of Pearisburg was built in 1906-07 in the Romanesque style on the corner of North Main Street and Wenonah Avenue. The monumental arch on the front of the building is echoed by large arched windows on the side. The building now houses a restaurant. Next door is a wood frame commercial and residential building dating from early in the 20th century. Angel's Rest is in the background.

As I drove out of town and headed home, I thought about all of the happy memories of my family and my own childhood that my visit had stirred up. And I missed a place and a time that are now lost lost and gone. They say you can't go home again, but sometimes a place makes you feel closer. Pearisburg is that place for me.
Thanks for reading Photography In Place.

With the exception of the two pictures from the 1940s, all of the photographs were taken on a single afternoon's visit to Pearisburg using the digital Pentax K10D and the Pentax MX loaded with Fuji Neopan 100 black and white film. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

In this place: Pearisburg, Virginia

Pearis Theater - 2011 - Pearisburg, Virginia 

The Pearis Theater

The art deco facade and marquee of the Pearis Theater, which opened in 1939, are remarkably intact. It looks just as I remember it, except of course for the blank marquee. The theater is L-shaped, with the auditorium behind the building next door, which used to be Whitten's Drug Store.

In the summer of 1955, the feature advertised on the marquee was Meet The Mummy, starring Abbott and Costello. I was visiting Pearisburg and my dad's sister, who was still in high school at that time, and I walked from my grandparent's house to the theater to see the show. I was proud of my aunt as we walked down Wenonah Avenue together in the twilight; she was surely the most beautiful girl in all of Pearisburg.

Everyone in the theater that night thought the mummy was hilarious except for me and Lou Costello. The movie scared the daylights out of me, and I dreaded the long walk home in the dark. Being with my aunt was little comfort. Everybody knows mummies are attracted to pretty girls.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In this place: Pearisburg, Virginia

Behind the Bank, 2011 - Pearisburg, Virginia 

The House Behind the Bank

The rock faced concrete block building on the far right of the picture above is the First National Bank of Pearisburg building. A restaurant operates there now. A row of houses once filled the space between the house on the left and the bank.

When my grandparents moved from West Virginia to Pearisburg in the 1940s, they lived in one of the houses behind the bank. By the time I came along, my grandparents had moved to a new house on the other side of town, but I remember the row of houses behind the bank. At some point, several of the houses, including the one my grandparents had lived in, were torn down to make way for a parking lot. The picture to the left is my dad's younger sister standing in front my grandparent's house behind the bank in 1947. The house in the background is still standing, and I photographed it when I visited last spring. That house is vacant now, and the porch has been removed, but it is still recognizable as the house next door in the 1947 photo.

My grandparents lived in a house that once stood next door to this house 

At the end of the war, my dad returned to Pearisburg and trained as a watchmaker on the GI Bill. He went to work at the jewelry store on Wenonah Avenue.

My mother's sister and her husband also lived in Pearisburg, and they helped mom find a job and move to Pearisburg. My aunt was the bookkeeper for the jewelry store where dad worked, and she introduced the young watchmaker to her sister.

All of these threads came together in the living room of that now vanished house behind the bank where mom and dad were married in 1946.  My grandfather performed the ceremony.

Tomorrow: The Pearis Theater

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In this place: Pearisburg, Virginia

Wenonah Avenue - 1940 - Pearisburg, Virginia 

Wenonah Avenue

An "old timer" standing on the corner of Wenonah Avenue and Main Street in 1940 would have been amazed at the changes to the town since the turn of the century. Pearisburg experienced rapid commercial growth throughout the first half of the twentieth century and many wooden buildings, both commercial and residential, gave way to substantial modern buildings.

St. Elizabeth's Hospital, where I was born, occupied the second and third story of the three story building in the middle of the block. The hospital was founded in 1924 by Dr. W.C. Caudill, who delivered me. The hospital moved to a new building on the outskirts of town in 1950, and became Giles Memorial Hospital.

Wenonah Avenue - 2011 - Pearisburg, Virginia 

One of only two surviving antebellum structures in Pearisburg, the Western Hotel, on the corner of Wenonah Avenue and Main Street (Route 100), is the first building on the right in the photo above. Built in 1827 as a two and a half story residence and ordinary, the building has undergone many changes over the years, but much of the original fabric survives, including interior woodwork from the Federal period on the second floor and the original staircase leading to the third floor "ballroom." The other antebellum building is the Giles County Courthouse, which dates from 1836. (More about the courthouse on Friday.)

Western Hotel, Pearisburg, Virginia 

This is the present day view of the Western Hotel from Main Street. The Giles County Courthouse is in the background.

I remember Wenonah Avenue in the 1950s when Pearisburg was a busy small town with stores and business up and down the street and cars lining the sidewalk. The 1940 photograph reminds me of how it looked then. In 2011, most of the buildings have survived and the town is neat and clean. But like so many small towns across the country, downtown Pearisburg has lost its place as the center of a closely knit community. I miss it.

Tomorrow: The house behind the bank

Monday, September 12, 2011

In this place: Pearisburg, Virginia

Small Town, Good People -  Pearisburg, Virginia 

If you travel north on Route 100 from Dublin, after you cross Cloyd's Mountain it is only a few more miles to Pearisburg. Walker's Creek tumbles out of the mountains, rocky and clear, to run beside the road for the last few miles. My family moved away from Pearisburg when I was 5 years old, but once or twice a year we traveled back to visit. Cloyd's Mountain was the last obstacle at the end of a long day's journey.  Almost there.

Pearisburg was a special place for me. My parent's met in Pearisburg and were married in a small house behind the bank by my grandfather Fuller. My favorite aunt and uncle owned a store in town. I was born there. And best of all, the mountains all around. It was my favorite place in the whole world.

Earlier this year, I drove once again on Route 100 toward Pearisburg. It was early spring and the trees were just beginning to leaf out. Cloyd's Mountain has been tamed; the steep, two-lane switchbacks have been straightened out and guided through a deep cut in the mountain. But on the other side of the mountain, Walker's Creek still runs along the road, and I felt a twinge of the old excitement. Almost there.

My grandparents are dead, someone else lives in their house. The house behind the bank has been torn down. My favorite aunt and uncle are buried on a hillside above Route 100 a few miles from town. There is nothing left for me in Pearisburg but the memories. And the mountains all around. I still love this old place.

Tomorrow: Wenonah Avenue

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fence and gate - Madison County, Virginia 

The town of Pearisburg, in the mountains of southwestern Virginia has a special place in my heart. For one thing I was born there.

Next week we will be looking at photographs of Pearisburg, some of them old and some taken on a recent visit. Hope you will stop by for a visit and thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fence and flag - Greene County, Virginia 

As a side note to yesterdays post (here), the mushroom pictures were taken with the Nikon P7000 point and shoot camera. I am finding that there are situations where working with the screen on the back of the camera is advantageous. In this case I was able to put the camera down at ground level and still see the screen well enough to frame the shot. I got one knee wet doing that, but to get that ant's eye view with the K10D I would have to lie flat in the wet grass to see through the viewfinder, ending up with wet clothes and a crick in my neck.

I still prefer working with an optical viewfinder, but there are times when it is useful to have an alternative means of framing the shot. Makes me wish the P7000 had an articulated screen.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mushroom - Greene County, Virginia 

Monday morning, in the rain, I spotted this mushroom growing alone on the border of the flower garden. I have a mushroom field guide of some 500 pages, but positive identification of this specimen eluded me. The closest I could come was Panaeolus Campanulatus.

No common name was given, but the etymology is from the Latin for "bell shaped", which seems particularly unhelpful, since there are hundreds of vaguely bell shaped mushrooms. It was a delicate and lovely mushroom though, and if anyone has a more positive identification, I would be glad to hear it. In the meantime I am calling it the "Virginia Brown Button."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Greene Mountain Lake - Greene County, Virginia 

Even though the autumnal equinox does not occur until September 23, Labor Day marks the end of summer. School resumes, the outdoor swimming pools close and the transition from summer to autumn begins. It is an interesting time of year as weeds, grasses and wildflowers reach the colorful end their growing season — a subtle prelude to fall. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011