Yesterday afternoon I visited Little Five Points in Atlanta, an eclectic neighborhood of funky shops and eateries. It was here that I was introduced to Jimmy. I had stopped along the sidewalk to photograph Rock ‘N Rick sing and play his guitar, and when Jimmy wheeled up with his buggy laden with trinkets, Rick told me I should photograph his friend. We introduced each other and struck up a conversation. I learned a most interesting story. At the age of 18, Jimmy was hired as the production manager for the band, Lynyrd Skynyrd. He worked with the group for 12 years, until that fateful day in 1977, when the band’s chartered plane ran out of fuel and crashed in the Mississippi woods. Three of the band’s musicians were killed on impact. Jimmy had been waiting on the ground for the plane to land. After the tragedy, Lynyrd Skynyrd disbanded and Jimmy went on to work for Mack Trucks as a mechanic.
As Jimmy and I wandered off the sidewalk to a less cluttered area so I could create his portrait, I commented on his necklace. Off the chain he had hand crafted from soda can tops, hung an array of interesting objects. I was particularily drawn to a pair of plastic breasts that dangled next to the dice. Jimmy told me he wore the breasts in honor of his wife who had died of breast cancer four years earlier. We spoke of her and our mutual connection to Tallahasse. His wife was from there and he recalled the beautiful oak trees with spanish moss and quail hunting on the plantations. As we parted ways, I thanked Jimmy for his time and the stories he had shared with me. One of the last things he told me was, “Most people misjudge me. They think I am homeless, but I’m not…” Perhaps we all need to be reminded now and then not to judge people by how they look.