Thursday, November 6, 2014

Some of the best moments in life are spontaneous and unexpected by John Dersham

I had a wonderful gratifying happenstance last Saturday...or maybe it was meant to be. I have had an exhibit of my fine art B&W photography at the JSU Canyon Center at Little River Canyon N.P., since it opened in 2009. The print on the wall in this picture has been a part of this show much of the time. I change the pictures every now and then. This picture is of Paul C Marsh General Store in Locust Fork, AL. I shot this on 8x10 film in 1991. The family store closed a few years later and I had not seen the owners since I took this picture. I went to the Canyon Center today to attend Canyon Fest which comes the first Saturday in November each year. As I and family arrived from the parking lot into the building where my prints are on display a gentleman asked me if I was John Dersham.  I said yes and he explained he was Dan Marsh, the person in my picture of the general store. Since 23 years had passed it took me a moment to recognize him. He had seen me on Absolutely Alabama TV show recently and was told the now somewhat famous picture of him and his wife inside the general store was on display at the Canyon Center. He had never been there. In addition, several people have taken pictures of this picture on the wall and put it on social media with comments about them being related to the owner or having been in the store as a kid or working there, anyhow the Marsh's knew this print was here. I had sent them a darkroom print of this image years ago, just after I took the picture, but today they came to see it on display and it was a thrill to see Mr. Marsh again. He explained his wife had passed away a number of years ago. The thrill of this story is he had no idea he'd see me but he and his son and daughter-in-law brought with them the original painting Mrs. Marsh was painting in the picture I took.  In addition, they brought a painting she did later of my photograph. I never knew she made this painting of the photo. So in this picture taken with my smart phone is Dan Marsh, who in the original 8x10 film picture is standing behind the counter on the right and his wife painting the one in my current photograph and also shown is one she painted later of my B&W photograph. This was an honor and a whole lot of fun. Dan Marsh, his dad Paul C. Marsh and their family operated this store for 50 years. The building was built in 1931, the Marsh family bought it in 1945 and father and son and family members worked there and operated the store through 1994. This has been a popular photograph for me, mostly because of the all “Americana” look and feel of a time that has mostly passed away. When I was a young man starting photography, 50 plus years ago, scenes like this were more common. By 1991 when I took this image, scenes like this were becoming quite rare. There are still some places like this and if you know of one I’d love to photograph it on 8x10 film like I did this one.