Saturday, January 08, 2011

Ancient negatives; Woodpecker Church

Admittedly, the photo quality here leaves much to be desired, but I was much taken the other day with the subject matter of several film rolls worth of photographs I took back in the dark ages (digital photography had not yet been dreamed of) as assignments for my beginning photography class at the University of Iowa's School of Journalism.

Too lazy to drag out the needed equipment and scan the negatives, I just enlarged the contact sheet 200 percent at 600 dpi to see what would happen. That's when I discovered that I hadn't dusted the negatives before making the contact sheet. Drat. But that explains the little white splotches. So I need to dust off, then scan, the negatives --- wonder when I'll get around to that.

We had been out the day these photos were taken with the old twin-lens reflex, perhaps in 1967, driving through a landscape in Appanoose and Wayne counties that now has vanished underneath the waters of Rathbun Lake. I still regret the loss of that landscape, although there are various positive things to be said about the lake I suppose. The gates of the dam were closed and the Army Corps of Engineers project was dedicated by then-Pesident Richard M. Nixon while I was in Vietnam.

 So the lake's been around for a while --- and Jones Cemetery and the Jones Cemetery Church (also called Woodpecker) are still there, but the that huge lake has turned finding them into something of a challenge by cutting off access from the north and west.

I got a kick out of a conversation some time ago with old friends who had decided that Jones Cemetery would be a good final resting place because of its scenic and peaceful nature as well as the fact an ancestor had operated a mill on the nearby South Chariton back in the 1850s and is buried here. Their children discouraged that idea, however, arguing that once buried no one would ever be able to figure out how to find the cemetery again in order to visit their graves.

It's not really that complicated --- just drive a little east of Promise City and then start wandering around north and east then west again on the gravel roads of South Fork Township until you get there. But I can see where some would consider it a challenge.

The photo of the old church under the spreading oak tree I hadn't forgotten. A cropped version ended up on the cover of the first Wayne County Genealogical Society's compilation of tombstone inscriptions. So I see it every time I decide I need to look someone up in that book.

But I had forgotten that I took a photo inside the church, too, and captured that wonderful old stove. Isn't that a great piece of equipment?

The last time I was in Woodpecker a few years ago it still was heated by a big old wood stove, but I can't remember if it was this one. I'll have to go back one of these days --- as well as seeing if I can clean up the negative and get a decent print of it.

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