Tag Archives: Georgia Documentary

Watching the Stories at Maebob’s, Irwinton

When I stopped at Maebob’s Diner in 2017 [the date of this photograph], it was the first time I’d eaten there since my college days, and the food was just as good as it was in the early 1990s. I’m not sure how long the place has been open, but I’m saying it’s at least 30 years. There is nothing pretentious about the place and nothing fancy, but the homestyle Southern food does all the talking. It’s really the only gathering place in tiny Irwinton and much of Wilkinson County passes through here at one time or another. The day I was there, a soap opera was playing on the television, and one of the servers and a couple of the customers were paying attention when they could. It made me think of my grandmothers referring to soap operas as “the stories”. They watched them religiously and you knew not to call them while they were on, which, depending on the shows they watched, was anytime between 12:30 and 4PM.

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Filed under --WILKINSON COUNTY GA--, Irwinton GA

Holley Mural Dedication, Lumpkin

Ezekiel and Lonnie Holley

On 24 July 2021 I was honored to attend the dedication of a mural designed by nationally renowned artist Lonnie Holley and painted by his son Ezekiel, on the side of the Singer Hardware building on the square in Lumpkin. Mr. Holley’s work is often classified as Outsider Art, though The New York Times called him “the Insider’s Outsider”.

The work actually comprises two individual works of art. The image on the left is “Born into Color”, and the image at right is “Black in the Midst of the Red, White, and Blue”.

According to his website, Lonnie Holley began working by the time he was five years old. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1950, and lived in a whiskey house, the state fairgrounds, and several foster homes. Holley notes that his early life was chaotic and he never got to experience a real childhood. Perhaps this explains why the artist has such an infectious good spirit today.

Also from Mr. Holley’s website: Since 1979, Holley has devoted his life to the practice of improvisational creativity. His art and music, born out of struggle, hardship, but perhaps more importantly, out of furious curiosity and biological necessity, has manifested itself in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, performance, and sound. Holley’s sculptures are constructed from found materials in the oldest tradition of African American sculpture. Objects, already imbued with cultural and artistic metaphor, are combined into narrative sculptures that commemorate places, people, and events. His work is now in collections of major museums throughout the country, on permanent display in the United Nations, and been displayed in the White House Rose Garden. In January of 2014, Holley completed a one-month artist-in-residence with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in Captiva Island, Florida, site of the acclaimed artist’s studio.

A nice crowd turned out for the dedication and braved excessive heat for the opportunity to meet Mr. Holley.

This young man kicked off the ceremony with a wonderful rendition of the National Anthem.

Annie Moye, who organized the event and helped secure the mural, speaks at the dedication.

Mike McFalls, an Associate Professor of Art at Columbus State University and Director of Pasaquan, gave context about Mr. Holley’s place in the art world and a brief overview of his life and career.

Spontaneity was the order of the day, and Mr. Holley was quick to join the improvisational street dance and shared some good moves with the crowd.

Carlonie Holley putting the finishing touches on her chalk art

Mr. Holley also took time to visit with anyone who was so inclined and personally answered many questions from those in attendance.

He also gave a demonstration of his process to local 4-H members.

The hand of the artist

I want to personally thank Annie Moye for inviting me to document the event and to give a special thanks to Lonnie, Ezekiel, and the entire Holley family for allowing me to photograph them. They were really nice folks and I’m honored to have had the opportunity.

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Filed under --STEWART COUNTY GA--, Lumpkin GA

Hunting on St. Simons, 1925

In the early 20th century, St. Simons Island was a popular destination for hunters from all over the country. Much like Sapelo Island today, it was scarcely developed and was home to numerous Geechee-Gullah people. The island was still a wild place in the winter of 1925 when this series of real photo postcards documenting a hunting trip were made. The first image shows a local African-American guide navigating a skiff through one of the numerous tidal creeks that characterize the island landscape. I don’t recognize the location, but the boat docked at the far right of the image may have the name “Frederica”.
I’m surprised that hunters were interested in raccoons, but the sender of these cards, Mr. Walter Friedlander of Roselle, New Jersey, made special mention of their abundance when writing home to his wife.
This is one of the thousands of Raccoons on this island. May be millions…”

I was unable to reproduce the other cards in this series, but a buck and several hogs were among the other game taken on the trip.

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Filed under --GLYNN COUNTY GA--, St. Simons Island GA

Baiting a Crab Trap, St. Simons Island

This gentleman [known on the island as The Original Crabman] was getting his crab trap ready when I was walking out to the end of the pier to photograph the progress on the Golden Ray cleanup effort. As is typical, he was using a chicken neck and fish head as bait. After dropping his trap in the water off the pier for just a few minutes, he brought it back up with several crabs.

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Filed under --GLYNN COUNTY GA--, St. Simons Island GA

Saddlebag House, Hancock County

This is Anne Chamlee, who has shared so many wonderful photographs of Middle Georgia with me. She had likely just photographed this saddlebag farmhouse when she appeared on the other side of the lens, in 1990.

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--

Crystal Lake, July 1940, Irwin County

These snapshots were made by Frances Trammell McCormick in July 1940. This early pavilion (above) was quite different from the two that followed. It was an open-air shelter and likely held a concession stand. [I have a download of another snapshot from the same era of a much more elaborate structure which was identified as being at Crystal Lake but I’m having trouble confirming it; it seems unlikely that there would have been two large pavilions at the site around the same time].

The edge of the pavilion is visible at the extreme left of this photograph, made from the lake. A small wooden structure, likely a diving platform, is also visible. I believe there are cars parked near the shoreline.

Shoreline from the lake

Boaters passing a wooden slide

Water skier

A couple walking on the beach, with the slide visible to the left

 

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Filed under --IRWIN COUNTY GA--, Crystal Lake GA

Merchants & Farmers Bank, 1905, Sparks

Jim Cottingham shared this historic photograph of three gentlemen outside the Merchants & Farmers Bank circa 1905. His grandfather, W. T. Cottingham, is pictured at left.

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Filed under --COOK COUNTY GA--, Sparks GA

Appling County Honors 2020 Seniors During Pandemic, Baxley

With over 43,000 cases* of the coronavirus (Covid-19) in Georgia, life as usual has been anything but since early March. One of the effects of the pandemic has been the closure of schools and much has been made of the fact that members of the Class of 2020 won’t be able to have a traditional graduation ceremony. While I’ve noticed yard signs honoring this historic class in towns all over South Georgia, I’ve seen nothing quite as memorable as this display by Appling County High School. Senior photos of each and every student have been placed on signs on the front lawn of Baxley City Hall. along busy U. S. Highway 341. I think it’s a wonderful gesture.

*-as of 25 May 2020

 

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Filed under --APPLING COUNTY GA--, Baxley GA

Fitzgerald’s Historic Lynwood School Being Demolished

When word came recently that my old elementary school was being demolished, I was already expecting it but it still brought a rush of emotions. This is where I spent most of my life from the 1st through 7th grades.

I made this photograph of the school in 2010.For more photographs and a bit of history, visit the original post.

Ben Hill, like many Georgia counties, had a city and county school system well into the late 20th century. Lynwood was the county school. During my lifetime, it was officially known as Ben Hill County Elementary School.

The structure has been vacant for quite a few years and has been deteriorating.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of old schoolhouses like this wasting away all over Georgia.

A few counties have successfully put theirs to use, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

People always ask why a place like this is torn down and not put to good use.

The answer is never simple, and can be attributed to numerous factors, including political calculations, lack of funding, and the absence of a community effort.

In the case of Lynwood, a recent explanation arose of the need for a traffic roundabout on the adjacent state highway.

I hope the roundabout makes the area safer, but I know I’ll miss my old school on the hill.

Following are interior shots made just before the deconstruction was complete.

Classroom

Side hallway (this was the way to the concession stand).

Restroom

Hallway

Auditorium seats

Stage

Auditorium (looking toward lobby)

Auditorium (looking toward stage)

 

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Filed under --BEN HILL COUNTY GA--, Fitzgerald GA

Champion for Christ, Charlton County

In 2013, when I was documenting all the Crawfordite churches in Southeast Georgia, I happened upon a little church and cemetery on my way to Sardis. The church I stopped at, Bethel Methodist, was historic in its own right. It’s a white congregation, but there is a small African-American cemetery adjacent to it. It was there that I met this gentleman, who drove up in a new Cadillac. He was an old-timer, he said, and if I recall was about 80. He shared a bit of the history of why the African-American cemetery was located beside the white church, but unfortunately, I lost that information. He didn’t mind his photograph being made and when asked his name, for documentary purposes, he said to just call him ‘Champion for Christ’, no names otherwise.

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Filed under --CHARLTON COUNTY GA--