THE STORIES BEHIND THE PHOTOS
Ghost Town Hound
Sally and I were in the remote town of Flaxville, Montana, population 71. The town does have a restaurant called the Bum Steer, and we had our usual hamburger with cheese and a nice cold brew. There was not a lot to explore in Flaxville, but as we left the restaurant I saw this beautiful spaniel. I pointed the camera in his direction to take a photo, but he got spooked like my camera was a gun and ran to the far corner of the intersection. I sat on the curb and put the camera down between my legs. The dog eventually started back in my direction, and I began snapping photos, just hoping the lens was pointed in the right direction. He was about four feet away when I took this photo. I like his movement toward me and the desolate look of the building in the background.
We stopped to check out Herman’s Garage and Service Center and had a nice talk with the owner Roy Herman. I mentioned that it was sad to see some places in disrepair. Roy put his hand up like he was going to tell me a secret and philosophically commented, “Sometimes people don’t have what they need to do what needs to be done. It’s that simple.”
21 Cents Per Gallon
The Route 66 map indicated a dead end a mile away. We decided to explore and found this old gas station. As I took the photo I was struck with how much it reminded me of an Edward Hopper painting. Later I put the photo on Facebook with no mention of Hopper. The first response said “Very Hopperesque”. The second responder did some Photoshop work and placed a woman from a Hopper painting into the picture.
We came upon two Navajo women sitting on a bench. One stated boldly “Do not take my picture,” and I agreed that I would not. As we talked I noticed her Obama Inauguration tee shirt and said, “You must miss him.” She replied she missed him “a lot.” I said “Me too. I really miss him.” At that point she came over and embraced me. When we broke, she backed up and said “Now you can take my picture”. This is the kind of moment I treasure.
I first met Razor Blade at the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi. His real name was Joshua Stewart, but people called him Razor Blade because he dressed so sharp. Razor Blade invited us to attend church the next morning as his guest. We sat near the front of the Union Grove Church and stood out as the only white folks in a congregation of several hundred. Well-wishers came up before the service to warmly welcome us to their community. We will never forget the service: the sermon, the music, the joy of celebrating God.
As I wrote a story about the experience, I checked for proper names and came upon the Facebook site for Union Grove. The first post reported that Razor Blade had died several days prior, and the congregation was celebrating his life.