Thursday, December 29, 2022

Mississippi Doors

End of Year Note

Dear Readers, this is the end of 2022. Thank you for reading and please add comments if something interests you. If you are looking for a certain topic, type a key word in the search box to the right. Most of my articles have been indexed by location or camera type, but the search tool will look for that word even within the text.


Some decades ago, I did a study of Greek doors. That was not too innovative because there were already tourist picture books on Greek doors for sale in bookstores and at the Athens airport gift shops. But still, Greece does have interesting doors, especially in the rural villages. When I make time, I will look over some of my old Greek slides for a revival here in Urban Decay. 

Some of you long term readers may remember the Doors of Nepal (click the link). 

Let us look at doors again, but here in Mississippi. We will take a semi-random tour around the state looking at unusual or interesting doors - portals to another world.

Jackson Southwest Hotel, 2648 US 80, west Jackson (Panatomic-X film, 50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens)
Arlington mansion, Natchez (Tri-X Prof. film, 135mm ƒ/5.6 Caltar-S II lens, yellow-green filter)
Doorway to pleasure, Eagle Lake (Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 80mm Planar-CB lens). The outhouse is no longer extant, but I did use it while it stood.
Store in Hermanville (Rolleiflex 3.5E, Schneider 75mm Xenotar lens, Panatomic-X film)
Club next to former Jo-Anna Motel, North Washington Street, Vicksburg
Former corner store, 1620 Main Street, Vicksburg (Panatomic-X film, Fuji GW690II camera)
Former store, Hwy 28, Union Church (Fuji Acros film, Canon 50mm ƒ/1.4 lens)
Burks Gro., Burk Road, Utica (GAF Versapan film, 50mm ƒ/3.5 Color-Skopar lens)
Slightly unused store, 2201 Simpson Highway, D'Lo (Tri-X 400 film, 90mm ƒ/6.8 Angulon lens)
Shed, Mississippi Basin Model, Buddy Butts Park, Jackson (TMax 100 film, Olympus Trip 35 camera)

What lies beyond these doors. Is there anything interesting? Just junk? A snake or two?

Thank you for following along. Standby for more Mississippi doors soon.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Exploring John R. Lynch Street and West Jackson, Mississippi

University Boulevard

University Boulevard is a major thoroughfare that takes you from I-20 to just east of Jackson State University and into older residential neighborhoods in West Jackson. 

This former restaurant at 1336 University with the log cabin look resembles road houses and restaurants I have seen in Michigan, Indiana, and other upper Midwest states. The stone facing on the lower part is another unusual decorative element.

John R. Lynch Street

The 900 block of John R. Lynch Street is on the 2021 list of 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi. From 10 Most:

Named for the first African American elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives, John R. Lynch Street is the gateway to Jackson State University.  Significant historic sites along the corridor include the COFO Office, Mt. Olive Cemetery, Masonic Temple, Ayer Hall, and NAACP Headquarters.  To the east of campus, Lynch Street now consists mostly of vacant lots, with four buildings in yjr 900 block serving as a reminder of what was once a bustling African American commercial district.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Chambliss Shoe Hospital was operated by Jesse R. Chambliss from 1936 until the 1970s.  A prominent leader in the African American community, Chambliss was a founding member of the Jackson Negro Chamber of Commerce and State Mutual Savings and Loan and organized the first African American Boy Scout Troup in Jackson.  The central building once housed the Ebony Theater, which was opened in 1947 by Dr. A.H. McCoy, who also owned the Ritz Theater on Farish Street.  Following the shooting deaths of Philip Gibbs and James Green by Jackson police in 1970, Lynch Street was closed off and the once-thriving African American business district entered a decline.  Today, the buildings of the 900 Block of John R. Lynch Street stand vacant, damaged by fire and the ravages of time.   

Unfortunately, little is left of the Ebony Theater and the adjoining shops.

The east end of the 900 block is anchored by a closed gas station. I assume there were once commercial buildings where you now see concrete and the former island for the gasoline pumps.

Rose Street

Corner store, 545 Rose Street
Convenience store, 602 Rose Street
Store and apartment, 546 Rose Street
No gas today, 1005 Robinson Road at Rose

Head north on Rose Street after turning off from John R. Lynch Street and the scene becomes seriously depressing. Most of the commercial establishments were closed. I was struck by how little traffic I saw. An occasional car came by with the driver looking at me curiously or totally engaged with her phone. Old-fashioned corner stores attest to once-busy neighborhoods. Where has everyone gone? Where do the current residents buy groceries?

Adjacent to 1005 Robinson Road at Rose

Razor wire on the roof? To keep thieves from repelling down the face of the shop? Very mysterious.

West Capitol and West Monument Streets

Art strip mall, 1204 West Capitol Street at Monument
Side of 1204 West Capitol Street
Plumbing supply company, 800 West Monument Street

Head east on West Monument Street and you soon cross under the railroad tracks and get into downtown Jackson. Monument must have once been a major arterial. Traffic still thumps by on the rutted pavement.

I took these photographs with my Fuji X-E1 digital camera and a Fujinon Super EBC 18mm ƒ/2 lens, all hand-held. This is a lens that "photographers" on digital reviewing sites claimed was not "sharp." OK.....

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Return to Country Stores in Central Mississippi and Louisiana


Years ago, rural residents depended on a country store that was close enough to reach on foot, wagon, or horse. These stores provided for most of their needs, such as groceries, seed, tools, sewing supplies, and hardware items. Today, most have closed and people drive to the supermarket or Walmart. We have lost part of our 19th and 20th century cultural background. Here are some country stores in central Mississippi and one in Louisiana. I have photographed some of them before but wanted to revisit them and see some new ones.  


Most of the scenery along Hwy 49 between Jackson and Hattiesburg is boring strip mall Americana, very uninspiring. But a few traditional stores linger in dilapidated strip malls like this one in Florence.  


D'Lo is a small town a short distance off Hwy 49 southeast of Jackson. It is mostly known for the water park, but there is an old commercial strip downtown. Most of the stores are closed.


Satartia is a village off MS Route 3 between Vicksburg and Yazoo City. The last time I photographed the little store in Satartia, a fluorescent light was on inside, but I did not see any commercial activity. This is a 4×5" Tri-X frame taken with a 135mm Schneider Xenar lens.


This is the Harris Carmichael store on Hwy 27. The building is in good condition but I do not know when the business closed.


This is the Morning Star Store on Old Port Gibson Road at the junction of Adams Station Road (GAF Versapan film). It has been closed for years.

This store is on Military Road near Edwards. Based on the size of the pine tree, I think there has not been any activity here for years. This a Panatomic-X photo taken with a Hasselblad and the 50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens.

This is the Watley Store at 116 Bill Strong Road in near Edwards. 

Burk's Gro is on Cook Road west of Edwards. The day I took this picture, a guy came up to me and asked what I was doing. Duuh, taking a photograph. 


Not much is left of this store on old US 49E in Midnight (name of the town). This is a Hasselblad exposure with the 80mm Planar lens.



This may not quite qualify as a country store. Let's call it a country liquor store. I seldom see cars parked outside and am not sure how much business it gets. 

Tallulah, Louisiana

This is the former Poboy Don's on Route 602 east of Tallulah, Louisiana. I recently biked by the store when some gents were repairing it to use as a hunting lodge. They said the building was post-World War II vintage. I photographed it years ago when it served po-boys (see Country Stores 15).  

Thank you all for riding along for this quick overview of country stores. There are many more in Mississippi and Louisiana, but I need to end this article. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

GAS ATTACK: Camera Catalogs from an Earlier Era

Dear Readers, while trying to purge junk from my endless stuff-filled closets and bookshelves, I found camera and photography catalogs that had tempted me with the expensive items they advertised. I sent a big box of these catalogs and brochures to a Photrio reader who paid for the postage all the way to Poland. Below are the front covers of some of the more interesting ones. 

Enjoy and do not get GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome - a mental state demonstrated by severe lack of self-control amongst all photographers). Or do get GAS; you will rarely see such fine mechanical craftsmanship in consumer products today. Prices for most film cameras, especially medium-format, are rising rapidly as of 2022. If you want a body, lens, or accessory, buy now. Film has revived, and very few new film cameras are being built today. 

Eastman Kodak Company

Eastman Kodak made everything for the photographic trade. They were the behemoth of the industry. Their beautiful and precise Retina cameras came from their Nagel-Werke subsidiary in München, Germany. I have only used one model, a handsome little IIa. The lady in the book cover above is holding a rigid body model IIIS, in production from 1958-1962. These were precise and capable, but I have read they are very complicated internally. Retina production finally ended in 1967, a victim of the Japanese camera onslaught. 

Victor Hasselblad AB

Hasselblad's 6×6 medium format cameras became the tools of choice for American wedding, portrait, and industrial photographers from the 1960s through the beginning of the digital era, around 2000 or 2005. The lenses were the finest available from Zeiss in West Germany. They were seriously expensive when new. If in good condition, even 1960s Hasselblad lenses are fully usable now. Recently prices have have revived with the new enthusiasm in film. I wrote about their very informative instruction booklets in a 2020 article.  


Mamiya (in 1993 Mamiya-OP K.K.) made five or six different types of medium format cameras, all  very successful in the U.S. market. Many American photographers preferred Mamiya because the prices were lower than Hasselblad and the lenses were excellent.

Many wedding photographers worked with the rugged and versatile C220 and C330 twin-lens cameras. This C330 and the simpler C220 were much larger and heavier than Rolleiflex or Yashica TLRs, but the Mamiya offered interchangeable lenses. Neat engineering. 

The superb RZ67, the successor to the RB67. Both were big and heavy, most suitable for the studio, but I have known field users with strong arms. Studio photographers liked the 6×7 format and the built-in bellows. For a short while, Mamiya Leaf offered a digital back for the RZ67 Pro IID.

This was the big and sturdy press-style camera that was popular in the 1960s. It was a rangefinder with excellent lenses, 6×7 or 6×9 roll film backs, and many accessories. Nice equipment but seriously heavy! Polaroid sold a modified version with a back for their instant film. I owned the Polaroid-specific version for awhile but did not use it much and sold it in good time, before Polaroid in Massachusetts closed permanently. 


Linhof tripods and ball heads are top grade. I have a small aluminum Profi-Port tripod, designed for travel. And I use the Profi II and Profi III ball heads. The big III is equal in rigidity, smoothness, and strength to any other brand on the market. 

Linhof (now Linhof Präzisions Systemtechnik GmbH) in München, Germany still makes their famous Technika large format field camera with a rangefinder to let the strong photographer hand-hold the unit. At one time, Linhof even offered a 5×7" version, which must have been a monster. 

Every Linhof product is spectacularly refined and precise, for a spectacular price. Look at their web page to see what the finest traditional mechanical craftsmanship looks like - and think of what you could photograph with some of this superb machinery. 

The Technikardans were very clever rail cameras that folded into compact packages. A friend used one to photograph the Tiffany windows at the Episcopal church here in Vicksburg. 


Leica (formerly Ernst Leitz Wetzlar) is another German company famed for precision manufacturing. Many photographers love their rangefinder cameras and the compact and superb lenses. I have used my dad's IIIC and M2 and M3 bodies for decades.

Gasp! The Leica rangefinder that did not look like older Leica bodies. Quelle horreur!
1974 Leica M lenses. All are totally usable to this day.

I was an undergraduate student when Leica introduced their M5 body with its revolutionary light meter on a swinging arm in front of the film plane. The body was larger than the previous Leica M bodies, and ultra-conservative Leica users rejected the new M5. It never sold well. I have read that today, there is only one repair person in USA who will adjust/repair the M5 (Sherry Krauter in New York state). I tried one in the 1980s and agree that it was a big and heavy package.

In 1974, at the University book store, the body was about $700 and the 50mm Summicron another $300, so about $1000 total. My tuition for 3 quarters at Univ. of Washington was $540, so the Leica cost two years of tuition. Hmmm...

Leica has just reintroduced their M6 film body. Thanks to the revival in film use, they can barely keep up with demand, and their M-A, M-P, and M6 bodies are usually out of stock. 


For 70+ years, Rollei-Werke Franke & Heidecke GmbH sold their superlative twin-lens reflex (TLR) cameras to press, studio, and advanced amateur photographers. They used the finest lenses from Schneider and Zeiss. I have used Rolleiflex 3.5E and 3.5F models since 1982. Poor Rollei went through a series of bankruptcies and restructurings after 1982, but they continued making the Rolleiflex until about 2000 (possibly later). 

I remember that in 1982 or 1983, brand new 2.8F models were still listed in advertisements from the New York vendors for about $2000. This was a serious price back then, but after the company semi-dissolved, many of us wished we had bought one. 

The later versions, like the GX above, were criticized for being based on the lighter-duty Rolleiflex T chassis and missing the ingenious film-sensing system. The tooling and molds for the 3.5 and 2.8 F models were destroyed or scrapped during one of the restructurings. 

Rollei's market position in the USA eroded as more and more photographers bought the Swedish competitor, the Hasselblad. To compete, Rollei introduced their beautiful SL66 in 1966. I remember seeing them in camera stores in Harvard Square, Massachusetts, in 1968 or 1969. They cost more than $1000 back then. Not suitable for this high school student. 

Similar to the Hasselblad, the lenses were the finest from Zeiss or Schneider. These are big and heavy cameras. But buy one if you can find a clean unit that was properly treated over the years. Sadly, USA sales were low.

Ingrid Bergman in "Journey to Italy" (1954)

OK, sorry, I could not resist. Here is Ingrid Bergman near Mount Vesuvius with her Rolleiflex. Note the fitted suit and elegant gloves. Why do tourists today (especially Americans) look like homeless people?


Nikon lenses as of 1968.

My first "serious" camera was a Nikkormat FTn, which I bought at the famous Lechmere Sales in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1968. I used it in USA, Europe, and South America and even took it hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (I was much stronger then). It never failed or broke. This is still a totally usable and rugged camera. But to operate the CDS light meter, you need to use the Wein batteries because the original 1.35 volt mercury cells are not sold any more.

Dear Readers, this has been our quick tour through the era of superior mechanical and optical engineering. Thanks for riding along. Go ahead and buy some of this classic equipment while you still can. The available stock will diminish as the years go by.