Sunday, February 26, 2012

Knock, Knock

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

As Ruth and I travel the back roads of this great country, one of my most favorite things to photograph is an old door. So when we first created our photo gallery website in 2009, what better “entry” into the galleries than an old door.

So I picked one of my favorite doors – one taken in Iowa when we were there photographing old barns. After viewing one of the barns and talking with the owner, we went back to the car and I noticed how beautiful the door was on an old vine-covered garage near where we had parked our car. Unfortunately, there were several cars parked right in front of this door. Hmmm, there has to be some way….let’s see, if I lean backwards against one of the bumpers, maybe….yes, I think I can get it.

A year after that image was taken, we made another visit to Iowa and this time, inside an old barn, I noticed a pair of old-fashioned barn boots sitting off to the side. They had the metal buckles on them and they were coated with manure, just like the ones we wore when we were kids working on the farm.

Then I saw an old door with faded paint and a lot of character, but I felt like it needed something more. Wait! I can “borrow” the manure boots. They’ll be perfect. So I took my shots and then put the boots back where I had found them.

Later that year, on a lonely gravel road in Vernon County, Wisconsin, we passed an old log cabin. Log cabins are not that common in our travels, but what struck us most about this one was the turquoise door.

One of the most interesting types of doors we see are the ones that are on the second floor of a building with no steps or porch. In other words, if someone tried to step out of them, they would plunge to the ground. We often wonder what these doors were used for or what the building looked like before it was modified, rendering the door unusable.

Last summer, while traveling the back roads of southern Wisconsin, we came through a small town and stopped for a minute to figure out where we would go next. There was a rather simple old building to the right of us, which I wasn’t drawn to photograph. However, I noticed an old door with rustic wooden steps and worn off paint, to which I WAS drawn to photograph.

In June of 2009, on one of our trips to Iowa, we passed a large tile corn crib, the kind you’ll see in Illinois or Iowa, but not in Wisconsin. I couldn’t help but notice the character in the bi-fold doors.

About a month ago, Ruth and I took a friend of mine along for a morning of photographing in the snow (of which there hasn’t been much this year). One of our first stops was in the town of Mazomanie. As I was photographing an old blacksmith shop, my friend wandered down the block and discovered an old stone church that I hadn’t photographed before.

The congregation of St. John’s Lutheran Church dates back to 1890, when services were held in what is now the Mazomanie Post Office. In 1920, they purchased this stone church, which was then the German Methodist Church.

Ruth and I are planning an upcoming photography trip to the Ohio River Valley, which reminds me of some of the historic homes we saw along the National Road in Ohio.

I’m also reminded of some of the interesting doors we saw on our 2008 spring trip to the Ozarks. When we visited the historic town of Kingston up in the mountains, I found this old blue and white door on the back of one of the buildings lining the town square.

We also visited an antiques store that was in an old stone building on the square. The owner of the store told me that the building was built in 1922 as a garage that worked on Model T and then Model A Ford automobiles.

From 1947 to 1979, it operated as a grocery store, as evidenced by the Colonial Bread sign on the screen door.

I’m not sure what it is about old doors that attracts me so. Maybe it’s just the handiwork and the peeling paint. Most likely, though, it’s that they beckon me to imagine what it used to be like and what went on inside in the old days.

Happy Shunpiking!

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