Monday, July 31, 2017

The Mississippi Delta 21: Drew

Drew is a small agricultural town in Sunflower County. It is just off US 49W, between Tutwiler and Ruleville. I have been to Drew twice and both times was impressed by the grain elevators and symbols of its agricultural prosperity (or former prosperity), and unimpressed by the general state of decay and impoverishment.
Front Street parallels the former Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad (Y&MV) line. Many of the elevators were built next to the tracks.
During my 2017 visit, there was a heavy but brief rain, after which the light was sublime.
The corrugated steel lends a lot of shape and texture to photographs. These old elevators were impressive scale, and now they sit unused. The buildings were closed and I did not want to try to get in as I was alone.
On Union Avenue, I came across an abandoned store with one of the 45° entryways that you often see at corner shops. There was a Teddy Bear nailed to the power pole out front. I stopped and set up my tripod. Two young ladies with extreme cleavage stopped their car and seemed amazed to see me photographing. When I said I was interested in the Teddy Bear, they said it was a memorial because a guy was shot there a few days before. It is grim that violence is such a defining characteristic of life in many communities.
East of town, Hitt Chapel on Rte. 32 sits quietly on its own in the farm fields. The peacefulness is such a contrast to the troubles that exist downtown.

Most horizontal photographs were taken with a medium-format Fuji GW690II camera, the square with a Rolleiflex 3.5E with Xenotar lens. The film was the long-discontinued Kodak Panatomic-X. These negatives were scanned on a Minolta Scan Multi medium format scanner using SilverFast Ai software. The photograph of Hitt Chapel is from Kodak BW400CN film and a 35mm Pentax Spotmatic Camera (purchased in 1971 and still in operation).

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Mississippi Delta 20: Webb and the Webb Depot

Webb is a small town on the Little Tallahatchee River southeast of Clarksdale and northwest of Grenada. You reach it by driving on US 49E and turning east on Hwy. 32, which is also Main Street in town. 
What initially interested me in Webb was a note in Preservation Mississippi that the historic railroad depot had been listed on the 2015 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi list. According to the nomination:
The Webb Depot was built in 1909 by the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad as a combination passenger and freight depot. A central part of life in this small Delta town for decades, the station was the junction of two different railroads coming from three directions.
Privately owner, the Webb Depot is in stable condition but will require an extensive restoration to bring it back to life. Community activists in Webb would like to restore the building for use as a civic space, such as the Oxford Depot or the Martin and Sue King Railroad Heritage Museum, located in the historic depot in Celeveland.
No trains come here now. But once, trains once carried freight, agricultural products, and passengers, and connected these little towns with the rest of the world.
Main Street is also Mississippi 32. Many or most of the brick stores are empty; little commerce happens in Webb today.
This substantial brick building probably had a store on the ground floor and a residence on the second. The bare side wall shows that once another building was attached.
This magnificent ceramic mosaic floor was on a lot where the building had been demolished. Imagine the wealth and pride once existed here to install a floor like this. I have read that Italian immigrants did much of the ceramic and tile work in the Delta in the early 20th century.
Early advertising, painted on the brick rather than a metal signboard.
At the local Mini-Mart, the dudes where hanging out and seemed thrilled to have a tourist take their picture.
Across the street from the Mini-Mart was an old Art Deco filling station. The steel section to the left is newer or is a sheathing over older plaster/stucco. According to Preservation Mississippi, this was the architectural style of Lion brand service stations.
The alleys are pretty bleak.
The tree and lighting across the tracks from the depot was too nice to resist.
On Rte 32 west of Webb on the way to Drew, flat farm fields and another magnificent tree. 135mm SMC Takumar lens.

Color photographs are from a Fuji X-E1 digital camera. I took the black and white frames with a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic camera, in the family since 1971 and recently restored and overhauled. I used Kodak BW400CN film, a black and white C-41-type of film (in other words, color print film but with monochrome dye only).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Country Stores 17: The Tomato Place, Vicksburg, Mississippi

The Tomato Place, at 3229 Highway 61 S, is a combination restaurant, fruit stand, local products place (such as honey), and just plain fun spot to visit. I took these pictures in winter, so there was not much local produce available.
Many of these family-owned stores in Mississippi have folk art, hand-painted signs, and souvenirs  for your viewing pleasure. European travelers love these American local institutions.
Mallory (who is my neighbor) generously let me take pictures inside. This was a 1-sec exposure.
The honey is local - use it to develop resistance to pollen. The bread and cookies are excellent. My recommendation: visit and sit awhile. Patronize these local vendors.

Photographs taken on Kodak Tri-X 400 film with a 1971-vintage Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic camera and 35mm ƒ/3.5 Super-Takumar lens (a superb little optic). I developed the film in Kodak HC-110 developer. This 35mm lens flares at the bare light bulbs, but I rather like the effect. A thin emulsion film may exhibit less of this flare. I scanned the negatives with a Plustek 7600Ai film scanner operated by Silverfast Ai software.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Small towns in Mississippi: Return to Hermanville

Mississippi 18 No. 4, entering Hermanville
Ten years ago, a friend and I took a drive to Hermanville and explored. The town is on Mississippi highway 18 a few miles east of Port Gibson. Hermanville was pretty rough back then.
Not much has changed. There are a few stores well-patronized by gents hanging around and drinking.
This garage has been torn down. In 2006, it was a mess with a huge straight-8 engine block inside on a stand. The rest of the car was not present.
This little church, up a dirt driveway off 18,  looks like it is no longer used.
This is a traditional house similar to ones you see throughout Mississippi.
This historic store on Railroad Street (or Alley) may be undergoing restoration. However, it looked about the same in 2008.
This yard with old cars and a huge of tree is across the street from the small shops where the gents drink.
Head northeast a few miles to Carlisle Road, and this handsome little church sits in the woods.
An abandoned railroad bridge partly crosses Bayou Pierre. The Bayou winds its way west, goes under Hwy. 61 north of Port Gibson, and eventually empties into the Mississippi River.

The 2017 photographs were taken with a Rolleiflex 3.5E with Schneider Xenotar lens using Kodak Panatomic-X film. I used orange or polarizer filters on some frames.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Detritus of the Move - Changing Offices at WES

In mid-2004, the laboratory where I worked moved into a new building. I managed to be out of town during the move (that was good timing!), but upon return to Vicksburg, I wandered around the old building to see what was left. It was largely junk that no one wanted to take to their nice and clean new offices - debris that probably should have been dumped a long time before. My coworkers were scientists and engineers; we are the type of people who keep stuff - forever (just in case we might need it...).
9-track tapes used with older VAX-VMS computer systems. For decades. this is how you sent data to other scientists. You have seen tape reels like this in news articles of the Gemini and Apollo space missions. 
We still used these sturdy analogue telephones. The wheel on the right is a Kodak Carousel slide tray.
The manuals on the table are for Microstation software. In the 1990s, Microstation made you buy  proprietary workstations to run their software - at extortionist prices, of course.
A particle-board ersatz wood-grain computer station. Furniture at its best.
Good debris on another example of particle-board furniture. Definitely not worth moving.
That was a good Scotch tape dispenser!
Compared to the 9-track tapes, here we have "modern" data storage media: compact disks (CDs). The CD was originally developed as a music media to replace LP records, and a CD of about 640 mbytes could include the entire contents of Symphony 9 by Beethoven in uncompressed format.
More of the Microstation manuals and the proprietary Microstation keyboard. This software was used for bathymetry charts and analysis of sounding data. 
Trash is often interesting. Here we have Polaroid instant 35mm film and boxes of diskettes. 
Finally, a sad plant. "Take me with you!"
Photographs taken with a Leica M2 rangefinder camera on Kodak BW400 film. This was a black and white film that could be developed in C-41 chemistry, like any common color print film.