Fiddle maker Carleton Woodson of LaGrange, Georgia, stands proudly at his front door with one of approximately thirty fiddles he has made since his retirement from his longtime job as a bookkeeper for the Callaway Mills in LaGrange.
Harmonica player Golden Bailey in his Talbot County, Georgia, front yard. Golden Bailey lived in a little house just west of Geneva, Georgia, on the edge of an area which could (and still can) boast of an inordinate population of traditional musicians.
Bluesman J. W. Warren sits in front of his house in Ariton, Alabama. Warren was born and lived most of his life in or near Ariton. Ariton was also the birthplace of another famous blues player, "Big Mama" Thornton, who wrote "You Ain't Nothin' But a Houn' Dog," a song that was first recorded by her, but was later an early hit for Elvis Presley. Warren, who claims to have been sweethearts with "Big Mama," says that it is he who is the "Houn' Dog" in the song.
Three generations of Yuchi women wearing traditional dress are represented in this picture that was made at the site of the annual Yuchi Green Corn Ceremonial near Kelleyville, Oklahoma. The word Yuchi--spelled variously as Yuchi, Uchee, and Oochee, and pronounced variously as YOU-chee or oo-chee--is the name of a Native American tribal group that inhabited the Chattahoochee Valley in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
A sidewalk fruit and vegetable vendor, Cuthbert, Georgia. Once the voices of street peddlers loudly singing the praises of their merchandise or the sound of a truck horn announcing the arrival of a rolling store or the "ice man" were commonplace, everyday noises in the Chattahoochee Valley. Now the occasional roadside vendor of boiled peanuts, fresh produce, or "Kountry Krafts," and the numerous yard sales are about the only surviving remnants of a once vigorous local merchandising industry.
Wimbrick Cook manipulated a hive of living bees from his Marion County, Georgia, bee yard into the shape of a beard by taping the caged queen bee to his neck just below his chin. Within ten minutes, the entire hive had gathered on Cook's face and chest, as you see them here. Mr. Cook demonstrated bee keeping and honey preparation at the Chattahoochee Folk Festival in 1983.
Johnnie Ree Jackson--shown here with her grandson, Elvis--lived her entire life of more than eighty years almost within sight of her birthplace near the Harris-Talbot county line, northeast of Columbus, Georgia. She was extraordinarily skilled in many traditional craftways, all of which she practiced with enthusiasm. She was a pine needle basket maker, a quilter, a cornshuck weaver, a broom maker, an avid gardener, and an expert herbalist. Mrs. Jackson even tried her hand, from time to time, at taxidermy, which she taught herself to do using methods she invented on her own. The rooms of her small white painted frame home were often decorated with woven baskets, hats, and trays, as well as with one or two of the "stuffed" gray squirrels, which she explained were prepared "just to be doin' something."
Traditional quilter Pearle Ware at work on a simple patchwork quilt at her frame in the Grimes-Feagin House, Westville (Georgia). Mrs. Ware was an energetic craftsperson whose repertoire of quilt patterns numbered in the hundreds. She was also a locally famous marathon talker.
A selection of homemade canned foods on display at the Chattahoochee Exposition, the annual regional agricultural fair and carnival in Columbus. Although not as commonplace and widespread as several decades ago, the preparation and preservation of home grown foods is still a popular regional activity, particularly in the rural areas. Scores of families join together every year in the work of canning fruits and vegetables, making jams, jellies and preserves, and curing meat and smoking hams.
The making of stoneware pottery in the Chattahoochee region required both a thorough knowledge of chemistry and mechanics as well as a finely attuned sense of design. This knowledge was not learned in school, but was passed down in pottery making families from one generation to the next. Shown here are the hands of master potter D. X. Gorgy of Meriwether County, Georgia. Gordy was a son, grandson, great-grandson, nephew, uncle, and brother of traditional potters in Georgia.
Gourd tree, Clay County, Georgia. An uninformed visitor to the Chattahoochee Valley might assume that the dozens of white painted gourds seen suspended from wired and poles throughout the rural areas of the region are merely another form of strange yard decoration, of which such great variety abounds here. In fact, the custom of building the so-called "gourd trees" has the very practical effect of attracting flocks of insect-eating birds--Purple Martins--which have the legendary reputation for eating their weight in gnats and mosquitoes every day.
Gus Daniel at work laying out the white oak "ribs" for his basketry work. In traditional white oak basketry, the "runners" are the flexible horizontal strips of white oak that are woven in and out in an alternating pattern between the stiffer upright pieces.
Making whirligigs and other whirring and whirling yard toys is an extremely popular traditional form of yard decoration in the Chattahoochee Region. Shown here, standing beside several of his recent creations, is whirligig make Jack Byrd of Lumpking, Georgia. Mr. Byrd stated that his original intent was simply to entertain the children who happened to pass by. "But as it turns out," he said, "it's the grownups who seem to like 'em best--specially them from Atlanta."
A grave shelter, Barbour County, Alabama. Rural graveyards reveal many examples of traditional decorative devices that are used to express personal loss or to honor deceased relatives and friends. The origins of grave shelters such as this one are uncertain, but it is possible that they may lie in the historic Native American practice of burying deceased relatives directly in the floor of the family household.