Monday, July 21, 2014

Down by the Tombigbee

A spontaneous outing down through the Black Belt Region, deep into the lonely ribboned backroads of hill and dale did not disappoint.  Through at least 4 counties we traveled in marvel at the beautiful crops, scarecrows, landscapes, magnificent pecan groves and railroad tracks. Our heartbreak was seeing the dried up towns and poverty along the way. Shacks and unkept trailers, empty stores and peeling facades in once pretty little thriving communities were all evidence of our vanishing South. A highlight was seeing a National Landmark from the mid 1800's kept intact.

Our destination was the Tombigbee River area and a quaint and thriving Fish Camp mentioned in the Garden & Gun magazine in the list of 100 foods to eat in Alabama restaurants in a year. Ezell's sits on a lonely road tucked under the Tombigbee in the middle of nowhere. Kudzu is the vine that covers the windows and logs are the main architectural interest. Rockers fill the porch and deer trophies line the entry hall. Fish mounts deck the walls and there's evidence along the way that hunting land abounds in the area.

I love the Black Belt Region and exploring it has become a way of life. It has such rich history and one need not travel too far to find interesting people, extreme poverty, simple living and beautiful land.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

POSTED: Pull Your Pants Up!

There's a great happening in Montgomery, Alabama, as Michelle Browder works with the youth in the inner city! 'No More' is the call emphasizing that these young people break the chains of mental slavery, low self esteem, failing in school, using the 'n' word, suicide, and the list goes on! I loved this sign as I walked along the bank of the Alabama River: Pull Your Pants Up! Check it out at

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Free at Last?

 I never got his name, and wouldn't put it in print anyway. He was free at last after being in Level 4 (restrictive lockdown) prison for 7 years. The white man needed a job and fortunately several employers were "looking at him", maybe giving him a chance to renew his life. I see this almost every week as I meet men who now have freedom from jail/prison and are struggling to find a job. They often stay temporarily at Salvation Army, or drift into the city and right back out. How would an employer know if he could count on the guy? How could the new guy in town find stability, housing, training? I need to do some research on my city's half way house!

  I've watched for many years as Jesse's Place and Jimmie Hale Mission in Birmingham, AL rehab women and men in a significant way. I've visited both places and believe in them both. We have a few places in Montgomery that reach out, but I'd especially love to see a Jesse's place here. There are too many women who are homeless, a heartbreaker in itself. I'd love to see the churches of Montgomery (many) open their doors to the homeless on cold nights. There are beds available in several ministries (God bless them), but too few to accommodate the vast numbers. Where is my part in this? Maybe I'll approach my own church!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Trucker's Chapel Alabama

I was privileged to meet Reverend Bill Maddox last weekend on a back roads photo shoot. He was in the process of moving from his present location of 4 years to a site down the road a few miles, still in the Black Belt. His ministry was founded in Selma in 2000. Reverend Maddox worked in the transportation industry for 41 years so has a special rapport with fellow truckers. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wash Day

I have not photographed poverty in the Black Belt region in awhile, but took an afternoon to make an outing with my camera. It did not take long to find what I was looking for. A cloudy day, with rain on the way caused surprise as I happened upon a young woman who had just hung out the wash and was sitting beside her trailer. I'm always nervous to cold call but on this occasion I could stand near the street and shoot the scene with her permission. (I'll take her a blanket on my next shoot). As she graciously stepped inside her home, my emotions of gratefulness for what I have over powered me as I began to capture the incredible yard of overwhelming "stuff". The eyes are the windows of the soul and no photo can take in all my eye saw and my heart felt in those 15 minutes I shot. The furious dog in the shabby trailer next door created a ruckus and the neighbor appeared to see what the problem was. (I am always creating a fuss). Finishing my photo opportunity, I backed out of the make shift driveway and headed on with a watchful eye and heavy heart. "Look to your neighbor", I say. There are so many needs.