Friday, August 19, 2005


Tom Pry

In the past year-or-so, I’ve become a photographic opportunist.


I carry my digital camera (a Sony Mavica, using garden variety floppy discs as the storage media) everywhere I go. The opportunities to get a good picture are never predictable, and rarely will you find them happening again.

Now, originally, we bought the camera because a couple of priceless friends of ours treated us to a week’s trip to Walt Disney World back in 2000. We took over 700 photos on that trip. Think for a moment about what that would’ve cost in terms of film, processing and prints, using a conventional camera. But we already had an unbelievable number of floppy discs so, other than the cost of the camera, we were home free. Quality was excellent, as witness the above shot.

A couple of years ago, we were messing with the camera and discovered a cute little quality setting, which we moved to its highest position, “Fine.” WOW! You could only get 4-6 pictures on a disc but, again, discs are no problem.

This is the setting I used for the photos I put in the Citizen.

And then I discovered other cute little things I could do. For instance, photos from our old yearbooks at the Searcy Library. Trying to get those books away from Susie Hoffman Boyette’s ladies in order to scan them is like trying to take their first-born male child: it ain’t happening.

Thus, I discovered I could get quite adequate photos by laying the yearbook on the floor of the reference room, sitting down, bending over, and catching the picture with my camera. Then I trim it up and goose it up a bit with my Paint Shop Pro program, and use it here on Searcy Yesteryear.

Yesterday, I ran across a bunch of old photos in a most unexpected place: the White House Beauty Shop out on the west end of town. I suddenly realized that there was no reason at all why I couldn’t immortalize them for you, so here we go (and thanks to Reva, for not throwing me out on my ear), and didn’t even have to take them off the wall to do it; good thing, too, because those suckers are REALLY fastened on there.

This shot of the White County Courthouse was taken in either 1914 or 1915. Whichever, it was shortly after the north and south additions were tacked on.

What caught my eye originally was trains, buff that I am. This shot of the Bald Knob Missouri Pacific station in Bald Knob back in 1914 reminded me of the time I spent in there. The central area of the station had the baggage storage and ticket office, and was the domain of the depot manager. On each side of the that central area were waiting rooms: the one on the south (as I recall) for Whites Only, the one on the north for Coloreds. Shameful, but a fact of life in the south in those days.

And the Cream o’ the Crop, so far as I’m concerned, was this shot of ole 3607, a 2-6-0 that was the last steam locomotive used on the Doniphan, Kensett, and Searcy Railroad, shown here parked on one of Searcy’s several sidings.

You can have fun being a sly opportunist. Try it. Don’t just haul your camera out for special occasions. Stick in your pocket or purse and grab pictures you run across unintentionally, even if it’s just a lovely sunset. It’s not going to cost you anything but a little time.

Then, after you’ve taken them, share them with all of us here. After all, like a smile, you can share it and still have it.


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