I am not patient when it comes to road construction. Crews have been paving in our neighborhood for a couple of weeks now. When I found myself in a long line of cars inching along to get through an intersection I turned around and decided to wind through side streets to get back home. I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going but I just keep moving in the direction of my house. As I was driving along Kings Hwy, I happened to see this display above on the front lawn of a neighbor’s house. There were close to 100 toys and dolls in various stages of dismemberment strategically placed on this carpet of greenery. At a distance it appeared whimsical but up close it was creepy. I could only wonder who would shoot Pinocchio, Tigger and Santa Claus (lower image). This is the same question I am grappling with in the aftermath of the Paris and Mali massacres.
I met Morris at the Decatur Wine Festival where he was selling cigars. As he was packing up I approached him and asked to take his portrait. As I took the time to shoot from various angles Morris relaxed and began to tell me his story, which is one of personal triumph and love. Morris grew up in Waycross, Georgia along with seven brothers and seven sisters. His daddy was a sergeant and fought in three wars. He also sold moonshine on the side but was never busted because the county sheriff was his cousin. Combat look a toll on the sergeant’s mental health and Morris became the recipient of his father’s anger. When Morris graduated from high school he hightailed it out of town. He graduated at three in the afternoon and by six he was on a bus to join the army. Morris spoke with pride about two life-changing events. The first is that he is a recovering cocaine and alcohol addict. He checked himself into rehabilitation 14 years ago and has never looked back. His greatest source of pride though is that he has a daughter who adopted him as a father. When his housekeeper announced she was getting married, she asked him if he would walk her down the aisle. When he asked her, “Wouldn’t you rather have your step-father have that honor?,” she replied that he felt more like a father than anyone else. Aside from selling cigars, Morris is also going to school to become a drug and alcohol counselor. He wants to help others as a way to give back and because he understands the pain associated with being an addict.
On this Veterans Day, thank you Morris and all those who have served our country.