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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Alvin Grier has been farming all his life. He grew up on a farm with 12 siblings. When his father died in 1947, Alvin took over running the family farm. Today, Alvin farms 4 acres in Atlo, GA, the way he has always farmed, with a plow and mule. Alvin grows corn for feed and relies on mother nature to water his crops. Alvin, plows 3 days a week for 8 hours a day and when it is time to harvest, he picks the corn by hand. One might think that at the age of 86, Alvin would rest the days he is not plowing, but this is not so. At his house he tends several small gardens and a field in which he grows a variety of vegetables.

I took this photo of Alvin and his mule, Jim, in mid-afternoon and soon after followed them back to their house. After getting a tour of the farm I reluctantly excused myself, thinking that he was exhausted and needed to rest. To my great surprise, Alvin told me that he was going to run over to his brother’s farm down the road, Grier Peach Orchard, to assist with plowing. And I thought that shopping for groceries and cooking dinner was tiring!

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I pulled into the Pure service station in downtown Decatur this week because they offer full service and my front tire was low for the second time in a week. Perhaps it was fortuitous that I also needed gas because I finally had a great excuse to drop in to ask whether I could photograph the service station. I was greeted enthusiastically by Craig Leonard, the assistant manager (middle) who eagerly filled up my tank, pumped air into my tires and told me, “Sure sweetie, photograph anything you want but I get to be in the picture”.  As I was composing the photograph, Craig summoned one of the owners, Joel Ross (on left), and Leo Hernandez (on right), a master technician, to join him for the photograph.

Although Pure has changed hands in the last year, the station has been serving customers in this location for 57 years. They are still using the original gas pumps and lifts in the garage. It is a challenge to keep the gas pumps in working order because the old gears wear out and it is difficult to find replacements. Nevertheless, the crew at Pure is dedicated to preserving the historic structure and its parts as well as providing personalized and friendly service. Craig remarked, “If you make your customers happy you have them for life.” I was happy, I got the photo, four new tires and great service.

For as long as I have been photographing, I have raised my camera to photograph the Southern Magnolia in springtime. Starting in April, I gaze at the tightly wrapped buds on these enormous trees and anxiously await the petals to unfurl to display the most seductive, beautiful flowers I have ever seen. The smell is intoxicating. The dazzling display of flowers is almost always out of reach, but this year I spotted the giant Magnolia down the street whose branches hover just above the ground. I have been eying the buds that dot these low branches and yesterday evening I was blessed with the opportunity to create this photograph.

On my return road trip from Florida this past weekend I had the opportunity to meander along country roads. I came across Jerry Harris in Waycross, Georgia early Sunday morning. Jerry has been selling hot boiled peanuts at this exact location, Thursday through Sunday, for 23 years . Customers flock to his stand to purchase this Southern staple generally found at road side stands. Jerry sells 10-12 bushels of peanuts, an average of 385 lbs, during his 4 day stint. I asked Jerry if he had a secret recipe and he replied, “Nope, just salt and water”.