Precious Bryant: 1942-2013

Earlier this week the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia blues musician Precious Bryant had died January 12 at age 71. I interviewed Bryant in 1990 for the defunct Atlanta alt-weekly Footnotes and I shot a roll of Plus-X of her performing at the 1990 North Georgia Folk Festival with one-armed harmonica player Neal Pattman (1926-2005).

Bryant, a Talbot County, Ga., native told me about how she learned to play guitar as a small child. “I learned the guitar when it was bigger than I was,” she said. “I was dragging it around; I couldn’t tote it.”

A versatile folk musician, Bryant was a regular at Georgia festivals. She also played festivals throughout the U.S. and in Europe. Blues was her first choice in music.

“I play the blues, but every now and then I throw a little rock ‘n’ roll in,” Bryant said in 1990. “I like the blues because it tells the truth. If there’s something you ain’t done, you are just going to end up doing it and so the songs just tell you the truth.”

Here are some of the photos I shot on sunny Saturday in Sandy Creek Park in October 1990.

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Is Decatur High School’s historic facade landfill bound?

Last weekend the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Decatur school board (City Schools of Decatur) is considering plans that would demolish Decatur High School’s distinctive modernist facade.

Decatur High School. January 2013.

Decatur High School. January 2013.

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Cobb County blacksmith shops: Due West Road (9Co246)

In October 1986 I spent a couple of days documenting a 20th century blacksmith shop that had been slated for removal in advance of a proposed shopping center development and highway widening. Located at the intersection of Due West Road and Dallas Highway (SR 120), the shop was the first of two Cobb County blacksmith shops I documented in 1986 and 1987. This is the second in a series of posts on the shops. Continue reading

Take a tour of Silver Spring’s 1939 World’s Fair home

I combined historical images of the 1939 World’s Fair home replica built in Silver Spring Maryland with photos I shot in December 2012 after the home went on the market for only the third time in its history. The compilation video was posted on YouTube as a holiday gift for Ann Scandiffio. Ann grew up in the home and her parents, Dr. Mario Scandiffio and his wife Pauline, were the home’s first owners back in 1939.

The tanner’s home: Canadensis, Pa.

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Gilbert E. Palen.

In 1856, Gilbert E. Palen (1832-1901) was a newly minted MD who decided to forego a career in medicine. Instead, he and a cousin (who also happened to be his brother-in-law), George W. Northrop (1812-1875), and brother Edward (1836-1924) opened a tannery along the banks of Brodhead Creek in rural Monroe County in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. The Palens and Northrop named their new tannery town Canadensis (from the Latin species name for the hemlock trees, Tsuga canadensis) and they built large Gothic Revival homes across the street from their industrial complex.

Gilbert, Edward, and Northrop tanned leather in Canadensis between 1856 and 1873, the year the family’s firms failed in the national depression. The Canadensis tannery was a stepping stone for Gilbert Palen. He was perhaps a fourth generation tanner who learned the trade in his family’s plants throughout Ulster and Greene counties in New York’s Catskill Mountains.  Between 1802 and 1873, the Palens had built and bought at least seventeen tanneries in New York and Pennsylvania . They were, as one nineteenth century trade journal remarked, “par excellence , a family of tanners.” Continue reading