Friday, December 2, 2022

The Real People of McLemore Cove

Some older residents of McLemore Cove gather for the annual raffle of a hunting rifle.

For more than 30 years it was our privilege and pleasure to be members of the Cedar Grove Community Club. Membership was not formal; anyone who wished could be a member, attend meetings, and join in the club's community service efforts. We met on the third Saturday of every month (as best I remember) for a pitch-in dinner and discussion of whatever issues were currently within the club's purview. 

The biggest event of the year was the Wild Game dinner, which drew hundreds of people from around the area. The proceeds were used to buy Christmas gifts for poor children.

It's tempting to say that there aren't many people left like those we knew in the Cove, but I don't think that's true. I believe there are people like them all over this country -- solid, goodhearted, honest, hard-working people who love God, their families, their communities, and their country. These people are the real America. If enough of them were to wake up to the power they possess, America would soon be on a much different and very much better track.

The ladies of the Community Club serve hundreds at the annual Wild Game Dinner.
 
If you enjoy my photographs, you can see more of them in my online gallery at https://davejenkins.pixels.com/  Looking is free, and, who knows? You might find something you want to keep.

The second edition of my book, Backroads and Byways of Georgia, originally scheduled for December, will be released in June, 2023. 

Photographs and text copyright 2022 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Rebirth of the Birdhouse Barn

 
The Birdhouse Barn in its original location beside Interstate 75 in Dalton, Georgia.
 

This post was adapted from my book Georgia: A Backroads Portrait.

Clark Byers was the man who went all around the country painting “See Rock City” signs on barns. He also invented the Rock City birdhouse, which he intended to use as a mailbox but the U.S. Postal Service wouldn’t let him.

Rock City picked up on the idea and began selling the birdhouses. 1n 1967, they asked Byers if he would paint the barn on the old Tibbs farm in Dalton, right beside I-75, to look like one of the birdhouses. So Clark painted it with the help of his oldest son Freddie. A year later he retired from painting barns. As far as I know this was the only one painted to resemble a birdhouse. At that time the barn could easily be seen from the highway. Later, trees grew up beside the road and made the barn difficult to see unless you knew where to look.

In 2001, as I was selling my book Rock City Barns: A Passing Era at the Prater’s Mill Country Fair near Dalton, a man stopped at my booth and talked with me for a few minutes. It turned out that he was the pastor of a congregation in Dalton, and that they had bought the Tibbs property. He said they hated to destroy the old barn, but they wanted to build a new church on the site.

I suggested that he call Bill Chapin at Rock City. To make a long story short, he did, and Rock City sent a crew to take the barn apart piece by piece. They moved it to a field at the foot of Lookout Mountain and put it all together again.

 For more than 80 years, people have looked at the barns and then gone up the mountain to “See Rock City.” Now you can go up the mountain to Rock City and look down to see a Rock City barn. 

Disassembling the barn in sections.

 Re-assembling the barn with many new components at the foot of Lookout Mountain.
 

An eagle's eye view of the Birdhouse Barn from Rock City.

If you enjoy my photographs, you can see more of them in my online gallery at https://davejenkins.pixels.com/  Looking is free, and, who knows? You might find something you want to keep.

The second edition of my book, Backroads and Byways of Georgia, originally scheduled for December, will be released in June, 2023. 

Photograph and text copyright 2022 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Monday, November 28, 2022

A Cross in the Sky

Chicago Skyline, 1989

Olympus OM2n, Zuiko 24mm f2.8, Fujichrome 100 film

(Click to enlarge)

 This is a re-post of a blog I wrote last year.

 A famous poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow begins:       

    "I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth, I know not where."

Longfellow was actually writing a metaphor about a song. But a photograph is like that. Like shooting an arrow into the air. We make our photographs, and if they're published who knows where they may be seen or whom they may influence, or in what way.

Throughout most of the 1980s one of my principal clients was an organization called the Christian Businessmen's Committee -- CBMC for short. Their mission was training and encouraging Christian businessmen to evangelize and train other businessmen to reach still more people for Christ.

In the late '80s they developed a strategy to concentrate their efforts on larger cities, and in 1989 and '90 I created seven audio-visual programs for them to advance this outreach. They sent me to cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to interview people and make photographs, not only of the people, but also background photos -- street scenes, buildings, landmarks, etc., in the various cities to make each AV program a complete story.

Walking the streets of downtown Chicago, I chanced to look up, liked the composition of the buildings and sky, and snapped a few photos with my faithful Olympus OM2n camera without a great deal of thought. I don't remember what lens was used, but probably the Zuiko 24mm f2.8. I never carried anything wider in those days.

The photo was used in one or more of the audio-visual programs, and later, on the cover of the CBMC annual report.

The CBMC headquarters are in Chattanooga, and from time to time they would bring in small groups of men from around the country for ministry training. One Sunday morning I was talking to some CBMC staff members at my church. They were there with a group of men who had come to town for training. I was introduced as the one who had created the audio-visuals, and one man shook my hand and said "I'm here because of your picture of the cross in the Chicago skyline. I saw that and said to myself 'Christ in the cities!' I want to be part of that!"

He left his job and went into full-time ministry with CBMC.

I've shot a lot of photos into the air in my career. It's nice to find out, once in a while, where one has landed.

If you enjoy my photographs, you can see more of them in my online gallery at https://davejenkins.pixels.com/  Looking is free, and, who knows? You might find something you want to keep.

The second edition of my book, Backroads and Byways of Georgia, originally scheduled for December, will be released in June, 2023. 

Photograph and text copyright 2022 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Count Your Blessings

 A good message for all seasons. Old Dial Road, Fannin County, Georgia. 11/5/2008

 Although I lived in northwest Georgia for more than forty years and loved the area, I also loved and found myself drawn to the mountains of north central and northeast Georgia as well. Over the years, that's where most of my day-long photo excursions took me.

A jaunt on November 5th, 2008 found me exploring the backroads of Fannin County. The fall had been mild, so the colors were still in full array. It was a good day for photography. I made several pictures that are in my online gallery, with more to come.

I have no idea who put this little scene together -- I don't remember seeing a church or school nearby -- but obviously someone wanted to honor the season and inspire passersby with the Thanksgiving message. So I'm glad to pass it along to you.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. In many ways, in fact, I like it better than Christmas. Maybe it's the elderly curmudgeon in me, but I think Thanksgiving deserves to be celebrated and fully enjoyed for itself -- not swallowed up by the Christmas season, as is becoming increasingly the case. For that matter, even Halloween seems to be in danger of being swallowed up by Christmas! 

So let's enjoy our families and be grateful to God for all he has given us. Count your blessings.

(Photograph made with Canon 5D Classic digital camera and Canon 85mm f1.8 EF lens.)

If you enjoy my photographs, you can see more of them in my online gallery at https://davejenkins.pixels.com/  Looking is free, and, who knows? You might find something you want to keep.

The second edition of my book, Backroads and Byways of Georgia, originally scheduled for December, will be released in June, 2023. 

Photograph and text copyright 2022 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Finding My Voice

 
The Frank Inman House, Martin County, Indiana c.1972
I went to school with the Inman children in the 1950s. In the early 1960s,
Frank was killed in a hunting accident and the family moved away.
The house, a clapboard-over-logs structure, was never again occupied.
Rolleicord Vb Twin-Lens Reflex, Agfa film

 

Today's blog is a re-post of one I wrote on February 7th, 2020.

I began photographing in 1968 and for more than 25 years photographed anything and everything that I thought might make an interesting picture. My commercial work was moderately successful; my editorial and documentary work somewhat more so. But there was no organizing principle to my work because I did not know who I was as a photographer. I had not found my "voice."

One thing that always puzzled me was that I felt drawn to photograph old structures. In the early 1970s, on a trip to visit my parents in the sparsely settled hill country of southern Indiana, I spent a day driving around and photographing the homes of people I had known in my youth. Many were abandoned; some even falling down. I told my wife later that I didn't know why I was drawn to do that -- I certainly would never make a dime from it! 

Surprisingly, though, I eventually did. In 1994, I was commissioned by Rock City Gardens of Lookout Mountain, Georgia, to find and photograph every one of the still-standing barns that had been painted with the white on black "See Rock City" message. Using their barn-painting crew's old records from the 1960s, I drove more than 35,000 miles over an 18-month period, as I could steal time away from my studio, visited more than 500 sites in 15 states, and photographed the more than 250 barns still in existence.

Rock City Barns: A Passing Era was published in 1996 and became an instant best-seller. Sometime later I received a letter from the well-known art photographer Maria von Matteson, who proposed arranging a joint exhibit with her and the great Florida Everglades photographer Clyde Butcher.

The show never happened, but one thing that Maria said to me stuck: she said "You need to write an artist's statement that defines you." So I did, and this is what I came up with.
 
My domain is the old, the odd, and the ordinary; the beautiful, the abandoned, and the about to vanish away. I am a visual historian of an earlier America and a recorder of the interface between man and nature; a keeper of vanishing ways of life.

As a commercial, architectural, and occasional wedding photographer, I've done a lot of things that don't fit within that statement. Yet, for the past 24 years I've known who I am as a photographer and have sought to work as much as possible within that vein. How well I've succeeded will be for others to judge, but I know who I am and what I want to do for as long as I am able. 
 

Visit my online storefront at https://davejenkins.pixels.com/ to see a selection of my photographs for sale.

The second edition of my book, Backroads and Byways of Georgia, originally scheduled for December, will be released in June, 2023. 

Photograph and text copyright 2022 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Monday, November 21, 2022

When Is a Rock City Barn Not a barn?

This sign in North Chattanooga finally caught my attention

just before it was sand-blasted into oblivion.

 People naturally assume that every structure that carried a "See Rock City" sign is/was actually a barn. The fact is, however, that while most were indeed barns, many were not. Off the top of my head I can think of at least four small country stores, quite a few sheds and garages, and at least three free-standing silos. Even a restaurant.

And that doesn't count signs painted on the sides of commercial buildings. Somehow, though, I was completely oblivious to the sign on the building on South Broad Street in Chattanooga even though I passed it on the way home from my studio every day. 

I almost lost out completely on the sign at the top of this post, even though I passed it frequently without my brain in gear. It was located on Frazier Avenue, just across the river from downtown Chattanooga and right by the north end of the Walnut Street Bridge. I probably would have passed it by again if my attention had not been caught by the fact that a crew was sand-blasting it away to renovate an old storefront into a Subway Restaurant.

Since Rock City did not retain these signs in their records, I suspect there were a lot more of them that I missed, both in Chattanooga and in other towns. 

I passed this sign on South Broad Street in Chattanooga every day without noticing it.

 Visit my online storefront at https://davejenkins.pixels.com/ to see a selection of my photographs for sale.

The second edition of my book, Backroads and Byways of Georgia, originally scheduled for December, will not be released until June, 2023. 

Photograph and text copyright 2022 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Back to Work on Another Book

This little barn on U.S. 27 just south of Rock Spring in Walker

County, Georgia has borne many signs over the years. But if you

dig through those layers of paint you will find SEE ROCK CITY.

 

In October, 1994 I was commissioned by See Rock City, Inc. to find and photograph all the still-standing barns that had at any time been painted with the famous "See Rock City" sign. They gave me a box of old file cards, the only existing records of the locations of the barns they had painted through the years.

Within a few months I became aware that there were other Rock City barns in existence that had been lost from Rock City's records. You can read about how that happened here.

As I continued my search, following Rock City;s old records, I discovered about 20 more such barns. I always thought of them as "lost" barns. The ones I found were included in my best-selling book Rock City Barns: A Passing Era. (Still available at amazon.com and used bookstores.)

After the book came out I received a number of letters telling me about other barns that had been missed. I also did some exploring on my own. And then I sat on the project, doing other things while years passed. But now it's time to get back to work. I need a project to do and I have 50 or so lost barns in my files. That's enough for a book.

I'm editing out the best pictures, re-scanning a few that I scanned too small the first time around, and doing the necessary photoshop work to make each photograph look its best. When that is done, I will ship them off to Michael Largent, the very creative graphic artist who designed my book Georgia: A Backroads Portrait, and begin writing brief essays for the text.

I don't have money to publish a book, but I will be submitting proposals to publishers and also looking into sites such as GoFundMe. Meanwhile, if you happen to know a book publisher. . .

Visit my online storefront at https://davejenkins.pixels.com/ to see a selection of my photographs for sale.

The second edition of my book, Backroads and Byways of Georgia, originally scheduled for December, will not be released until June, 2023. 

Photograph and text copyright 2022 David B.Jenkins.

I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless life gets in the way.

Soli Gloria Deo -- For the glory of God alone.