View Full Version : Faces and Places of Appalachia

Don Dudenbostel
27-Apr-2020, 17:46
Although I'm not originally from Appalachia I was born in a tiny oil and coal town in Southern Illinois that was very much like where I grew up in East Tennessee. At the age of three my family moved us to Oak Ridge Tn which was known as the atomic city. Oak Ridge didn't exist until 1942 when it became a secret government site where the uranium was enriched for the two atomic bomb that ended WWII. We were atypical of the surrounding area in that we had more Phd's per capita than any other place in the US. Robert Oppenheimer and General Lesli Groves were two notable figures that headed the Manhattan Project and were frequently in Oak Ridge.

MY father was into photography and I became interested at the age of 5 watching him make images and process and print them. I started shooting with my mothers Anasco 620 box camera in 1953 and received my first Brownie at age 7 in 1955. I've always been fascinated with the Appalachian culture. landscape and people. Over the years I've documented the people and culture of the area and would like to share some of it with you.

The area has changed a great deal over the decades of my life. These images represent the old world of Appalachia, not the new. Most of these date to the late 60's through the 90's.

Don Dudenbostel
27-Apr-2020, 17:49
More photo's.

Don Dudenbostel
27-Apr-2020, 17:52
A few faces from the early 70's. Were were taken in Petros TN in the coal mining area where the state maximum security orison was located. It was also the plan where James Earl Ray, Martin Luther Kings assassin, was housed.

Don Dudenbostel
27-Apr-2020, 17:54
More from Petros.

Don Dudenbostel
27-Apr-2020, 17:57
A few more from Petros and surrounding area.

Don Dudenbostel
27-Apr-2020, 18:00
A few more images from the surrounding area.

Don Dudenbostel
27-Apr-2020, 18:02
A couple more images from the area.

Don Dudenbostel
27-Apr-2020, 18:06
Appalachian natives are some of the kindest people you'll ever meet but many have had very hard lives.

Don Dudenbostel
27-Apr-2020, 18:08
Just a few more for now.

Drew Wiley
27-Apr-2020, 18:08
Fascinating. Thanks for sharing these.

27-Apr-2020, 18:46
Amazing. Really takes you back to another time and place!

Don Dudenbostel
27-Apr-2020, 18:58
My apology for posting direct scans from the negs. I much prefer making a nice silver print then scanning but just didn’t have the time. I’ve never felt that a direct scan from the beginning was as beautiful as a fine silver print. But these will have to do for now. Thanks for looking. There will be more to come.

27-Apr-2020, 20:31
These are very nice. I'm not very familar with the region, having visted only the periphery and then eastern WV once. They seemed like friendly folks but on the whole didn't seem entirely comfortable with outsiders. Apparently you had no problems getting them to pose for you?

Kent in SD

27-Apr-2020, 20:43
Seems wherever you go, Appalachia hardly changes. In 1973, I drove from Louisville, KY, to Norfolk, VA for Navy Reserve duty. I had to drive US 60 for over 100 miles east of Charleston, WV. The scenes were exactly the same along there. Same with areas of eastern Kentucky.

Excellent set; well done!

27-Apr-2020, 20:53
Very nice tribute to a beautiful part of our nation and very unique people. I spent a few years in Wise and Harlan Counties. While I never felt at home, I always felt welcomed. Sometimes it took a while, though. :)

Hugo Zhang
27-Apr-2020, 22:03

Like them a lot and thanks!

Ben Calwell
28-Apr-2020, 05:55
Great work, Don!

Jim Noel
28-Apr-2020, 14:40
I made many trips on that ferry with my grandfather prior to the bridge over the Tennessee River being completed. Even after it was finished my grandmother preferred the ferry because the bridge was so high above the river.

Pat Kearns
28-Apr-2020, 15:40
Don, your photos of Appalachia are striking and reminiscent to those made by the FSA photographers in the great depression. You are in a class with Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein, and Russell Lee.

Don Dudenbostel
28-Apr-2020, 16:44
Don, your photos of Appalachia are striking and reminiscent to those made by the FSA photographers in the great depression. You are in a class with Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein, and Russell Lee.

Thanks for all the kind comments.

I didn’t set out to copy anyone’s work but have always loved the work of the FSA photographers. I’d also add one more name to the list, although not one of the FSA group, that I’ve always admired is Lewis Hine.

Don Dudenbostel
28-Apr-2020, 19:02
Here are a few more images. Some have been previously posted in other threads but thought they fit here too. Hope you enjoy. The third photo is a man named Lendall Abbott. He was born in a log cabin in what now is Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National park. He's a true mountain man. Tiny in stature but is amazing in talent. He's a fantastic guitar player and carves these tiny animals with his pocket knife out of peach seeds. All three of the people pictured are accomplished musicians. The lady and Lendall gather with friends ar Rock Branch School in Blount county on occasion and make music into the late night.

Don Dudenbostel
28-Apr-2020, 19:12
Faith is a huge part of Appalachian life. Some practices are a bit different like serpent handling. Serpent handling as written in the Book of Mark says they shall take up deadly serpents and drink deadly things and speak in unknown tongues. I've been to more than fifty serpent handling services in remote areas of the mountains and have witnesses handling cobras, rattlers, copperheads and other deadly serpents as well as drinking strychnine and using a torch on themselves. I can tell you you're never prepared to see a man standing 3 ft from you get bitten by a 6ft rattlesnake.

Drew Wiley
28-Apr-2020, 19:45
Snake handling? You do know how the founder of that cult died, don't you? Predictably. The Hopis snake dancers would shake them around so much that the snakes were disoriented most of the time. I picked up a young diamondback rattler with only a button off the front porch when I was just 3 yrs old. Those are the most dangerous kind because they don't know how to meter out their venom yet. To this day I remember the look on my parents faces as they tried to coax me to lay the snake down on the rake. It's amazing it didn't bite me. I thought it was a giant earthworm. But you have certainly found a niche. It would be nice to collect these into a published book sometime for the sake of posterity.

28-Apr-2020, 20:08
I admit I don't know the full history of Appalachian snake-handling churches, but I was under the impression that it dated back to the 1920s or earlier. I am surprised they allow photography, though come to think of it there was a little dust-up when one photographer documented the death of one leader who was bitten, his family and flock thought it was disrespectful to show him that way.

I am not part of that community, of course, but I do not find it abnormal or outside of the Christian tradition in any way. It's not for me to judge, but if you believe in the Bible, there is certainly solid grounds for their faith.

Don Dudenbostel
28-Apr-2020, 20:19
Drew thanks for your story.

The practice of serpent handling in Appalachia started in Cleveland TN a little over 100 years ago with George Hensley, a member of the Church of God. George picked out several verses from the book of Mark which instructed Gods followers to take up serpents. The practice spread through Appalachia and actually across the US although it was primarily in the Appalachian region. At one time thousands engaged in the practice.

Eventually George and his wife were booted out of the church but serpent handling continued to this day. It’s now rarely practiced except in a hand full of churches. I’ve been to three churches and know of a couple more. Families have encouraged members to abandon the practice for obvious reasons. I’ve known one preacher and a number of friends family members die from serpent bites or poisoning. Strychnine and red devil lie drain cleaner are sometimes consumed during services. Also a torch will often be used to confirm ones faith.

Interesting, people often ask if a person dies if they were sinners or lacked faith. The answer is no, it was their time to die and nothing more. This is a very obscure practice now and difficult to understand why anyone would do this. Simply put, it’s not to prove anything, it’s to confirm their faith.

Let me say I do not practice this faith!

In response to Jody, it often takes years to get to know people and be trusted. I’ve gotten to know one of the preachers like a brother and he’s been instrumental in my documenting moonshiners, several serpent handlers, cock fights and people I could never have been allowed to photograph. Jimmy, the preacher, is truly a kind and gentle person that can see right trough you and knows your heart. Jimmy is one of the kindest and most loving people I’ve ever known. He’s an example for all of us and the world would be a much better place if we had more Jimmies. Again I don’t practice his faith but I appreciate his love and dedication to it. And no these people are not crazy, they’re the most dedicated to their faith of anyone I’ve ever met.

Drew Wiley
28-Apr-2020, 20:40
Well, I grew up in an analogous hill country setting here in the West, but where being nosy with a camera might get you shot, and I'm well aware of the colorful but blatant abuse of the Gospel of Mark within certain poorly educated circles. The Middle Ages had their own trials by Ordeal. And I'm sure as heck familiar with rattlesnakes. My next door neighbor came from rural Appalachia (WV), and her almost fatalistic attitude toward premature deaths among family members due to mine accidents or medical negligence astounded me. But she herself is now over 100, living with her granddaughter now. Speaking of blind faith... my nephew and his buddy had just returned from doing an especially difficult climb in Yosemite, and another high school pal wanted to feel macho too, so when they encountered a rattler on one of the Reservations that weekend, the kid said, Do you know that if you pick up a rattlesnake by the tail it can't bite you? So that's what he did. They walked him down to the creek to keep his hand in cold water, then one of them took the uphill hike back to the car, then to the nearest phone. It took three hours for an ambulance to arrive from the city. They saved his hand; but it being swollen the size of a baseball glove, and being in the hospital for two weeks, certainly taught him a lesson or two about folklore! The occasional fatal cases were mostly speedboaters up from the city who would come ashore in a bathing suit, get bitten in grass near the shoreline where the diamondbacks hung out waiting for mice, and then panic, run, and get the toxin circulated rapidly. Being all worked up in a fanatical setting would be analogous, I suppose, with the heart pumping fast. I've witnessed similar scenarios, just minus the snakes. It's amazing they allow you to freely photograph.

Don Dudenbostel
28-Apr-2020, 21:00
Drew I’ve witnessed men getting bitten by rattlesnakes and can tell you it only takes 45 seconds for the venom to hit the central nervous system. Within a couple of minutes breathing becomes difficult and profuse sweating starts. Hallucinations can occur and severe pain is guaranteed. I’ve seen a man get bitten on the finger and within a few hours his arm became so swollen the skin split. No thanks!

In response to another comment, a book is possible but funding has to happen. It’s a very expensive venture these days. Even if a book doesn’t happen, the East Tennessee Historical Society, myself and a close friend put together a pretty major exhibit of 97 silver gelatin prints, sound tracks and artifacts relating to the photos that toured museums for seven years. I donated about 200 silver prints to the museum and they’ve established a special collection for educational study. In time when I am finished with my negatives they’ll inherit about 100,000 B&W negatives. All will be in the collection accessible for study. Another collection is housed in the museum as well, The Thompson Collection. Jim Thompson documented the area from the late 1800 until the 1960’s when I became very active and my work picks up where his left off. Thompson was more centered around the city of Knoxville and my images relate more to the Appalachian culture of the region.

I have an open invitation to do another show and will do so if we can obtain a grant to cover costs. It’s expensive to print a couple hundred 11x14 archival silver gelatin prints and archival frame, crate and store them.

Don Dudenbostel
28-Apr-2020, 21:05
There’s a misconception that serpent handlers are uneducated. I know one of them that has two masters degrees and is upper management in one the the largest corporations in the US. I watched Mark handle a King Cobra right in front of me. Marks younger brother was bitten on the face in a service by a rattler and died in 15 minutes. I stood in the middle of 3 men with rattlers and one with a cobra in Middlesbrough Ky and one of the men is a multi millionaire from Atlanta. The people are very diverse.

I’ll post some images from a KKK / neo-nazi meeting and cross burning. One of the people there was a professor of nursing at a major medical university and has a PhD. I was the only outsider allowed in because of reputation and connections. Again I’m not a part of this and do not endorse what they do or believe. I’m only three to preserve what they do for history.

I’ll post some more images this week that’ll be a little shocking.

Drew Wiley
28-Apr-2020, 21:20
Rattlesnake venom works by destroying red blood cells. It's not a CNS venom; but coral snake venom operates that way, perhaps other southeast snakes. I spent quite a few weekends collecting reptiles with a herpetologist, and have a degree in field biology myself. He got bitten a couple times by a caged sidewinder, but they're one of the least deadly. I do hope you find some book funding. And I'm not questioning your observations, but there's probably more than one factor involved, including the hysterical element, for lack of a better expression, which makes it so interesting. How educated people get drawn into cults amazes me, but I've seen it happen in this part of the world many many times. Perhaps gullible would have been a better term than uneducated. The handful of Jonestown survivors meet once a month right on this street, at least until this virus crisis, and they now have numerous children and grandchildren, and are spending their whole lives trying to sort that mess out. Talk about close calls.

Andrew Plume
29-Apr-2020, 01:31
This is great work (again) Don, many thx for showing these

If I had to pick my proverbial favourite, then it's number one of your first post, the two local girls



29-Apr-2020, 05:30
It's nice to see these, they bring me back to my youth in North Carolina. I spent lots of time in the Appalachians, even went to Appalachian college. The southern mountains were mostly settled by Scotch-Irish that were given free rein in the wilderness because the Colonial Governors realized the hard fighters would be a good buffer against the Indians. The isolation and independent personality of mountain people are what largely created "the American personality" of the South - Faith, Family, and Fight for your honor. When the British were about to win the Revolution, and threatened to go from coastal, plantation Carolinas to the mountains to burn the rocky farms, Scotch-Irish all came out of the hills and beat them at Kings Mountain. It was a decisive victory, as was Cowpens. Then Guilford Courthouse was a "draw", but it drove Cornwallis back North, out of the South, where he eventually was surrounded by Americans on one side, and the French on the other, and surrendered. In every war America has had since, a large majority of officers and men were from the South. Oh, and in the Civil War? Many had no stake in it, it was seen as a coastal, landed gentry affair. Most didn't join up, but were forced. Or they joined when they needed to protect their mountain plots and cabins. Again, to good effect usually.

Alan Curtis
29-Apr-2020, 07:00
As others have said, thank you for posting your photographs. They are of people and images most of us will never see or experience.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 13:38
Seems like folks enjoy these images so I'll post some more then get into the gritty underbelly of Appalachia.

When you do this kind of photography you start to realize what a sheltered life you've lead.

The first image I Billie Lemming who was a well known serpent handler. He lost a finger, as seen in photo 2, to gangrene form a copperhead bite in church that he tried to ignore. He wound up having the finger amputated without anesthesia. He wouldn't allow any anesthetic he said or h would have gotten up and walked out of the dr's without any treatment. Billie also was known for drinking strychnine and red devil lye drain cleaner to confirm his faith. No tricks, a table spoon or two of lye in a half glass of water and down the hatch. Having a degree in chemistry and microbiology I don't know how anyone could survive this. ???? don't get this one!

The next up is Liston who learned to make moonshine sitting on his dads knee at the age of five. He was arrested for making moonshine at age 12. Liston's father reportedly murdered 12 men and got away with it. His brother Don and he told me the stories and witnessing multiple murders including one of his father, Frank's, children. Two were murdered in his house because he owed Frank 25 cents. Frank shot the debtor with a shotgun, told his wife to undress and get into bed and Frank drug the body into the bedroom, tossed it on his wife and called the police and reported th man was raping his wife.

Liston comes from a long line of serpent handles and was arrested for handling serpents in front of the Cocke county court house against court orders.

Number 4 is my friend Jimmy confirming his faith with a propane torch. You can see the microphone in the side of the image where we were doing soundtracks for the Vanishing Appalachia show we did in 09.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 13:45
A little more of the serpent handling.

Here's the image of Jimmy putting his sock foot in a box with a copperhead, you can see the microphone here.

The second shot is Liston and mathew Parton (cousin of Dolly) doing a river baptism.

Number 3 is in Middlesboro KY and is in a typical box that the serpents are carried in. This is about the largest rattler I've ever seen.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 13:56
A few more serpent handling and church shots.

Photo one is the collection of serpent carriers at a two day revival in Middlesboro KY. Notice the odd looking snake ion the left, it's a cobra. I've also seen then handling puff adders that they call two steps. Get bitten, take two steps and drop dead. Cobras aren't much better as they spit.

The 4th shot is the church in Middlesboro. the man was Jamie Coots and his wife and child. About two years ago Jamie was bitten by a rattler in church and didn't survive. He didn't live to see the next sunrise. I know quite a few that have survived multiple rattlesnake bites. One fellow I spoke with in Jolo West VA claimed to have been bitten 148 times. He was pretty much crippled from the bites but suffered a fatal heart attack rather than a fatal bite.

When someone dies from a bite they believe it was just his time and God called him home. At the funeral people handle the serpent that killed him and refer to it as a fiery serpent.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 14:02
No to part of the underbelly of Appalachia. Cock fighting is a big sport here. Hundreds of thousands of dollars ride on the winning birds. I know one man who won $148,000 in one day fighting 4 birds and still lives in a single wide trailer. Another man I know won two $68,000 fights.

Interesting story here, We were allowed to photograph a fire provided we didn't show anything where anyone could be identified. After the fighting, two men took my sound man and I to a metal shed and told us to have a seat.Both of us were seriously concerned that we'd angered someone and that they might kill us. A few minutes later several man walked into the shed including our friend the preacher and another man came in with a jug of moonshine which we all shared. We figured we were OK and didn't think they'd waste good moonshine on two guys there were going to kill. The moonshine led to an afternoon of fun for all.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 14:07
A couple of friends the raise fighting cocks. They're beautiful birds if you've never seen them. They're a cross between an African game cock and a grouse and are territorial and very aggressive. The losing birds wind up int the frying pan and some wind up as pets.

Theres huge money in these birds. They can win hundreds of thousands of dollars and a couple of fertile eggs can fetch a few thousand dollars if they're the offering of champions.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 14:21
Now let me remind everyone I don't necessarily endorse what I photograph. Sometimes it's hard to separate ones emotions from what I photograph. The important thing is to never show emotion or any bias for or against the subject because some of the people I people I photograph are extremely dangerous and wouldn't hesitate to terminate a persons life.

It's not easy getting access to these kinds of subjects. The people, for good reason, are distrustful and extremely closed to anyone they don't know well. I've gained access through connected people in the community and have a traceable history of what I do and show no bias in any way.

The Klan started in Pulaski TN. There's a lot of history and worth a read for anyone that is curious about the origin. It sprang out of a time just after the civil war when law and order didn't exist in some area. Unfortunately it didn't take long to get out of hand. The good thing is there are very few of the folks now. There's little interest and most people have moved on and grown up. I was allowed in a private meeting about 11 years ago between the neo nazis and the Klan. They are financially broke and very few members. A few years ago this kind of meeting would never have happened as both groups are at opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum, The nazis are all about Hitler, Germany and the destruction of american life. The Klan sees its;f as a Christian??? organization and is very anti anything but America. The only thing they have in common is hate.

Hope these don't offend.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 14:26
I've photographed 5 of these events. It's really funny how they picture themselves. I one referred to the event a s a cross burning and was quickly informed that the significance of the lighting of the cross was to enlighten the world about Jesus????OK!

Let me tell you this are difficult conditions to photograph under with film!

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 14:29
Just a couple more then I'll move on.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 14:31
I'll leave you today with a few images of fine hard working Appalachian folks.

I snuck in a few large format images here. The inside of the store was shot on 8x10 and a 6-1/2 wide angle Dagor. Most likely on TX but the point is, it's really hard to shoot 8x10 or LF for that matter in these conditions.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 14:34
A few more fine folks to wash the ugliness away.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 14:36
Just a couple more fine folks.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 14:38
A couple more.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 14:43
Doing these photo's over fifty years many of the people would give you the shirt off their back if they like you and the best way to be liked is treat them with respect.

I'll end with these today and hope I'm not offending or boring anyone.

The final shot is a common sight in Appalachia. Evidence of peoples faith is all around us.

Drew Wiley
29-Apr-2020, 15:32
The squinty-eyed lady holding a picture is a classic, and deserves to be hung beside something Dorothea Lange might have taken.

29-Apr-2020, 16:17
These are amazing images. It would be a great book with an exhibition

29-Apr-2020, 17:48

29-Apr-2020, 18:31
You have inspired me!

Kent in SD

Mark Sampson
29-Apr-2020, 19:48
Both Dorothea Lange and Paul Strand would have been proud to make these portraits.
Have you ever exhibited this work, or had it published anywhere?
These pictures, the portraits and the others, deserve a wider audience than on this site.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 20:08
Both Dorothea Lange and Paul Strand would have been proud to make these portraits.
Have you ever exhibited this work, or had it published anywhere?
These pictures, the portraits and the others, deserve a wider audience than on this site.
Thanks for the kind comments.

In 2009 the East Tennessee Historical Society hosted an exhibit of 97 of my Appalachian images. It contained not only silver gelatin images but audio tracks of many of the people and events shown in the show. We had soundtracks of a serpent handling service, cock fight and other events plus audio interviews of many of the subjects in the photos. We also had many artifacts on display like a jug of moonshine, KKK robe, serpent carrier plus many other items. The show was open for 7 months and then toured museums across the US for almost 8 years. I and my friend who recorded the soundtracks donated the show plus many more images to a special collection to house them. I’ve willed my negatives and prints to the special collection when I’m finished with them. The name of the show is Vanishing Appalachia.

My friend who did the audio is a professional writer and my wife is a retired creative director and excellent designer. The three of us put together a small book on the late moonshiner Popcorn Sutton that has been very successful. We’re no longer printing it but probably sold 25,000 copies or more. I think amazon still prints it but their paper quality and printing lack a lot. I’ll post a photo of the cover.

I have an open invitation to produce another exhibit and need to talk to the folks at the history center about a grant to fund it. Printing a couple hundred 11x14 archival silver gelatin prints plus archival framing of 100 images plus promotional material and crates to ship it is quite expensive.

I’d love to do a book but again cost is very high for a book that probably would have limited interest although if a grant came along I’d be happy to do it.
Thanks again all!

Don Dudenbostel
29-Apr-2020, 20:37
I wanted to point out that only 5 images here were digitally captured. IMO digital is just too clean and perfect. There’s a depth and grit (not grain) with film that just can’t be achieved with digital. The rest were captured on 35mm to 8x10 film.

Drew Wiley
30-Apr-2020, 10:02
Yes, exhibitions are a lot of work. But maybe you could prioritize on printing very select images first. Just a hint. They might not tell the whole story you have intended to document. But certain pictures potentially carry a full story within themselves. I'm a printmaker, so naturally focus on squeezing the most possible out of a promising negative. And if you'll allow me to re-reference that one particular image of the older woman holding the book, it's not that she's quaint or odd, but because she's wearing many layers of memory and emotion below the surface, which her expression and pose subtly mirrors. It's a replete unwritten story in itself, with the viewer left to fill in the blanks, just like the picture she holds contains a wealth of emotions and memories really only known to herself. I'm not a people photographer myself, but as I've already stated, grew up in an analogous situation among cowboys, Indians, and potentially violent rebels, which in my own way I have tried to document in other ways. It takes an inside track to understand their humanity and sufferings, even if much of that has gotten derailed into dishonorable activities. Once in a great while, a photographer comes along who can, at least in a few instances, encapsulate an impression within a discrete image. Even the greatest documentary photographers are remembered by only a few key images. As we all get older, it's helpful to prioritize what we can realistically get done, and what we can't. Under current circumstances, I don't know the future of grants, but these kinds of images certainly need a wider audience. It's the kind of thing Ken Burns might like to get his hands on, especially since you have some audio too. Even footage of my own father appeared in a PBS documentary about Calif water wars, and Ken Burn's segment on Jonestown was largely based on the teenage memories of our next door neighbor. Who knows?

Don Dudenbostel
30-Apr-2020, 11:20
Thanks Drew, really appreciate your comments. I actually have printed several hundred of my favorite images and have them mounted with archival mats and cases. I wanted a set for myself of my favorite images and will be handing those over to the history center sometime down the road. Vanderbilt University has also expressed interest but things have stalled there. The Tennessee state museum also purchased a set of images of the late moonshiner Popcorn Sutton and has exhibited those and is planning on adding more images now they’ve completed their new facility.

About two years ago I was interviewed and appeared in the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary. He also used a number of my 60’s images from my college days. I’m always willing to work with people like Ken.

I’m still printing from the archive but at a slower pace. I’m in my 70’s and arthritis has a grip on me but I’m still determined to continue even if it’s a bit slower. I’m pretty meticulous about my printing and only print 4 negs per session. My best negs always seem to be the most difficult to print too.

My partner in this show that did the soundtracks and writing most likely will not be able to help in the next venture. Tom’s a bit older than me and late last year had a major stroke and two less severe this year. His mind says let’s do the next show but his body just can’t do it. Fortunately I’m in very good health except arthritis.

Drew Wiley
30-Apr-2020, 11:57
Oh now it clicks! Yes, now I recognize you from the Vietnam documentary, which I viewed multiple times. I've over 70 myself, and am prioritizing my own collection. I generally make a master print for reference, then a very limited number of secondaries. Museum board is now quite expensive, so I rarely mount more than two of the same image unless there is a demand. Mounting big color images is even more expensive, so I rarely mount those except for specific purchase or exhibition usage, which is a low priority at the moment. There's just too much I'd still like to do with my time while I am relatively agile. I got my gout under control through medication, but each year have to be a little more careful in the mountains. The hill culture I knew is almost entirely extinct, and is getting gradually replaced by creeping development, retirement communities, Indian casino culture, and sadly, a lot of meth and illegal pot farming. But lots of it still too rugged or officially protected to change much except in the catastrophic manner forest fires now behave. The second biggest ponderosa pine forest in the world where I routinely roamed in now 99% dead trees. Lower and much higher, the effects of climate change are more subtle, but real. Most of the glaciers are already gone. But at my age, I won't be doing any more ice scrambling. Crossing a few patches here and there will be thrill enough. But I feel much safer there than around certain human categories. Take care.

Don Dudenbostel
30-Apr-2020, 16:00
Now that we've had a little preaching lets talk about moonshine. I spent three years photographing the life of the late and questionably great Popcorn Sutton. He was truly a piece of work. Sweet some times and violent other times. Popcorn told me he murdered two men and married or at least lived with and loved 12 women. He made 12 children with twelve different women and only knew one child, Regina who is the only one to really excel in life. Regina is a MD and trauma surgeon in Alaska. Popcorn loved BIG women even though he weighed in at 85 pounds. He attracted some amazing women like his second wife who has a PhD and is a molecular biologist.

Don Dudenbostel
30-Apr-2020, 16:02
A few more.

Don Dudenbostel
30-Apr-2020, 16:07
More to come.

The first photo is the last picture I made of him before his death. Popcorn kept his coffin in his bedroom and was obsessed with is death. Strange that he took his own life.

30-Apr-2020, 16:31
the life of the late and questionably great Popcorn Sutton.

Ha, did you ever see this bit of street art off of Market Square?:)
https://live.staticflickr.com/2900/14604007862_2b9869b47d.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ofvmK1)popcorn1 (https://flic.kr/p/ofvmK1) by J Barnes (https://www.flickr.com/photos/101405209@N02/), on Flickr

At any rate, very glad to see you gathering all these accolades--as I mentioned before, these are very familiar people and scenes to me (though mine own "Our Southern Highlanders" took place in the Ouachitas/Kiamichis of the Trans-Mississippi West.)

30-Apr-2020, 16:52
I've always respected people who live their life on their own terms (including taking their life when they're done), even if they make choices I wouldn't. That's why I have no problem with people who want to test their faith by handling serpents, even though I well know that I do not have the faith required to grab onto a rattlesnake in church and trust the gods to protect me. I've also never jumped 50 or 100 ft on a dirt bike, despite riding them for years as a teenager. I never saw the point, but that doesn't mean I think the people who do it are wrong or somehow unbreakable.

Should I ask how often Mr. Sutton blew up his still(s)? I didn't see a lot of safety valves and fire blankets in those photos.

Don Dudenbostel
30-Apr-2020, 17:09
I never saw that but I rarely go to the big city. I lived in Oak Ridge until 1958 and then in West Knoxville until 5 years ago when I moved to the sticks in Lenoir City. I'm looking to move farther back in the sticks now. We're up to 9000 population and it's too crowded.

I appreciate the kind words!

30-Apr-2020, 17:27
I'm looking to move farther back in the sticks now. We're up to 9000 population and it's too crowded.

Well, hopefully not too far that you can't roll into Loudon to the Tic Toc.:)

Don Dudenbostel
30-Apr-2020, 17:34
Should I ask how often Mr. Sutton blew up his still(s)? I didn't see a lot of safety valves and fire blankets in those photos.

Funny you asked that. The pictures of him with his still was taken about 5 hours before the still house caught fire and everything burned up. Popcorn had two still hands and one was the cousin of the girl he was about to marry. Big Dave, and he was big, was upset with popcorn for spending too much tie with Pam and not enough time making whiskey. Dave being a brilliant man set fire to the still house and destroyed about 1800 gallons of whiskey and all three 1000 gallon stills. The fire drew the attention of the local authorities and Popcorn wound up in jail that night. Around midnight I got a call from Popcorn wanting me to put my house up for bail and loan him $10,000 for a new still setup. My response was, "I'd like to keep my house and my wife, No can do". Anyway the sheriff and fire marshal showed up at the scene the next day and declared it an electrical fire. The sheriff punched a tiny how in each of the three stills and declared they were inoperable. Popcorn promptly put one on a truck and hauled it to the local welding shop where they patched the hole. Within a week or so he was back in business.

Popcorn was a little too brave for his own good. The state and federal ATF discovered what was going on and sent an agent to start buying whiskey. Popcorn made him a distributor and was selling 500 gallons at a time to him until the state ran out of money and the feds got involved. I'm sure they had a few parties with the evidence. The feds and state finally moved in and Popcorn was arrested again. When Popcorn was arrested he had b previously been convicted on 2 felonies. Well Popcorn in true form started taking too much and led the police to his safe where he had firearms, ammunition and narcotics he'd been selling.

I understand Popcorn could have received 25 years for each felony count for the drugs and firearms. In addition Popcorn bragged he'd never paid a penny of federal tax in his life. With all the felony charges Popcorn received an 18 month sentence. He always told me though he's kill himself before he'd go back to prison and he did.

Popcorn carried a S&W 38 in his high bibs and pulled it out to show me what he's do if I ever crossed him. On another occasion he pulled out his Case hunter and described what he did to folks that betrayed him and another day he described shooting and killing a man and then running over another and killed him over a business deal that went bad. Popcorn could be a real charmer but other times he could be a nasty little piece of work. I described his personality like a 50 pound rock suspended by a sewing thread in a tornado. You never knew what would set him off.

After saying that, I thank him for trusting me and letting me into his private life. It was a real experience.

Don Dudenbostel
30-Apr-2020, 17:37
Well, hopefully not too far that you can't roll into Loudon to the Tic Toc.:)

I try to stay out of there because I love ice-cream. I just live 10 minutes from there and eat breakfast at Tommy's next door. Loudon's a sweet little town and will be much better after they rebuild the court house. I have to say Lenoir City is a pretty sweet place too.

Don Dudenbostel
30-Apr-2020, 17:44
I'll come back to moonshine another day but wanted to post a few images from the local fair and carnival in 1975. It's nothing like this today.

Don Dudenbostel
30-Apr-2020, 17:46
More as I locate scans.

Drew Wiley
30-Apr-2020, 18:24
Well Jody, I sure wouldn't personally classify it as faith, but recklessly tempting the inevitable. God gave men common sense for a reason, but also the choice to ignore it. Gosh knows how any of us survived our teenage years. Older kids were doing chicken runs in hotrods right around the time I was learning to scramble up cliffs, shimmy through caves, and tumble down rapids with zero training or proper equipment. Then riding to school on a tiny bobtail bus that negotiated hairpin curves on a one-lane road on the side of the cliff, which during that time, had bussed certain kids that literally became axe murderers and rapists soon thereafter ... then moving here to the coast right in the middle of all hell breaking loose in the early 70's, and multiple massively armed murderous doomsday cults springing up right in the neighborhood, only two or three of which are commonly known about, well ... lots of us have seen a wide spectrum of humanity, I guess. I just never had the nerve to point a camera at some of it.

30-Apr-2020, 18:57
He always told me though he's kill himself before he'd go back to prison and he did.

Probably the correct choice.

1-May-2020, 07:43
The image of the woman in post #21 was very striking to me. I first saw it as a cubist image with two different perspectives of her. The sharp cut off of focus puts one image in a profile and the out of focus cheek seemed to look like a more frontal perspective as if there are two images of the same woman. Very interesting to my eyes.
The first dozen or so pictures and posts started as a positive point of view compare to photographic profiles of the region that I have seen in the past, healthy kids not very far from my concepts of reality. Things have gotten a bit darker and stranger as the thread goes on. Your portraits are wonderful!