By Ruth A. Ringelstetter
Joann and I are law-abiding citizens for the most part. Oh sure, we exceed the speed limit on the highway occasionally, and we do step onto lawns or into fields for the right angle for pictures. This one, for instance, could not have been gotten from the road, but it was perfect from the edge of the field.
Several years ago, on the way to our younger sister's house, we decided to pick her a bouquet of wildflowers, since those are her favorite. Coming down a side road not far from Joann’s house, we found some beautiful wildflowers growing near the road. We cut several different kinds of flowers for the vase, and they were gorgeous.
We continued down the road, looking for more variety of wildflowers, but instead we came upon a sign for a protected prairie. Uh oh. Needless to say, we didn’t cut any more flowers along that road!
Over the years, we’ve moved quite a few things when they were in the way of a good photograph. It started years ago with a big green dumpster in front of a mill. I couldn’t believe it when Joann asked me if I would move it, but I do love a good photograph as much as she does. Since then we have moved many items out of the way so that modern items (usually ugly items) don’t appear in our photos. And we’re always very careful to remember to put things back exactly where they were.
One winter’s day, we went to photograph a small mill with a King Midas Flour sign on the side. Joann set up to take photos, but there were two large garbage barrels sitting in front of the sign. As she was pondering what to do, I went to the barrels and with a little wiggling managed to free them from the snow. I rolled them across the driveway and waited while Joann finished her photos of the King Midas Flour Mural.
Then she went to the front of the building to take some additional photos. When she commented that she wished the Pepsi machine wasn’t in front of the building, I said “Well, I’m not moving that!” Sometimes there’s nothing we can do, so Joann just tries to minimize an object’s effect on the image. She took the rest of her photos and then I rolled the garbage barrels back across the driveway and into their spots in the snow.
On a trip to Kentucky, we stopped at the coolest old mill sitting down a steep embankment. This mill had one of the largest waterwheels we’ve ever seen. As we came around the back of the mill, we saw an old wooden fence around the waterwheel. And hanging on the fence from one end to the other was some bright yellow caution tape.
We stood for a couple of minutes and lamented our luck until I realized that you could just slip the caution tape off of the posts. So I slipped it off and dragged it over behind the trunk of a very large tree.
We proceeded to take our photos of the mill and stream and that huge waterwheel, and then Joann reminded me that we had to put the caution tape back where we had found it. I slipped it back around the posts, and you would not have known that we had been there.
Just this spring in North Carolina, we hunted up an old store with a Pepsi Cola sign on the side of it. I was so excited that we managed to include it in our route, but when we came up to the store, the front yard was covered with political signs. That wouldn’t make for a good picture at all! So Joann decided we would move the signs and then put them back the way we found them.
As she removed the signs, she memorized where they were so she could put them back where we had found them. Then she worked all around the building taking pictures of the Pepsi Cola mural and the rest of the building. Before we left, she replaced all of the signs in their original spots.
And many years ago, we stumbled across a small town “fire department” -- a building about 8’ x 8’. It was early morning and the town was quiet, so we opened the door to have a peek inside. What we found was an old fire hose cart, intact and in good shape. We took several photos on film.
In August of 2009, we happened upon that small town again and, turning the corner, we discovered that the little fire department was still there. The building is a little worse for the wear, but it’s still there, and still unlocked. Naturally, we pulled over to take some photos of the building. There was some sort of festival going on in town, and it was later in the day, so the town was active. And yet, we wanted to know if the hose cart was still inside.
And as Joann was getting her camera equipment out of the back seat, our conversation went something like this:
Ruth: “It’s not locked. Why don’t you look inside.”
Joann: “Seriously? Sure, you want me to open it. Why don’t you open it?”
Ruth: “Ok, I’ll come out there with you, but if we get caught, who are we going to call for bail money?”
Joann (laughing): “Phyllis – isn’t that what older sisters are for?”
The door was now harder to open, but inside was the fire hose cart. It’s such a cool old antique and we love that the town can leave the door open and no one damages it or steals anything. Joann set up and took some photos of the cart, and as I was closing the doors, I glanced across the street to see a woman outside on the porch of her house smiling at us. I smiled back and we went back to the car.
If you’re out on the backroads and you see someone rolling a dumpster away from some cool old building, stop and say hi. It will probably be us.