Archive for the ‘Making of “Images”’ Category


Identify the time by what buildings are present -- or not.

The opening chapter of “Images of Berkeley Springs” is called Overlooks.  Betty Lou and I had a great time marking the year of the photos by picking out which buildings were still there and which were gone.  We plan to offer that same fun to anyone who wants to partake.

On Wednesday, August 31 at 7pm and Saturday, September 3 at 11am and 2pm, we’re staging a free “overlook” event at the Ice House.  We’ll be projecting more than a dozen photographs to giant size on the walls of the Paradox Room, point out the various buildings and invite people to explore the historic streets of the town in detail. We are numbering the first 100 and will offer them for pre-publication sale at these events.

“Images of Berkeley Springs” is due out September 19.  We will be set up to sell them on the street in front of the Star Theatre on Saturday and Sunday, September 24 and 25 plus we’ll be set up at the Apple Butter Festival.  There will be plenty of chances to buy copies of this historic book in time for Christmas.

The price is $21.99 plus tax.

Out of Our Hands

When we began the Images book project in February 2010, we selected a deadline for completion of our part — April 5, 2011.  It seemed plenty of time. At the end of 2010, I began looking at the time remaining and stepped up the pace.  As an astrologer, timing is essential so I was committed to getting the text and images and layout to the publisher before the energy began slowing down on March 30.

On March 30, the crucial pieces were in place.  The cover design was decided — an image Betty Lou and I had selected the minute we saw it.  A few additional lines to the text and it was submitted to production meeting both my deadline and a bonus one from Arcadia that earned us some free books.

General scheduling guidelines and next steps were outlined that, if held to, should produce a book for sale before the end of summer.

A little at loose ends, I force myself to drift for a moment or two.  What lies ahead is part two of the project: selling the book, making appearances, doing talks, working on our legend as a pair of history heroes.

Approved cover for Berkeley Springs

Manuscript finished but stories continue

Last night — March 10, 2011 — nearly a year after we began, I finished the manuscript for the Images book.  Now Betty Lou reads it over.  A few tweaks happen and then it is off to Arcadia Press.  We should know a publication date soon!

Even to the last minute, there were stories being added.  The most fascinating, particularly given current events with union busting in Wisconsin, was the story of the strike that ended Berkeley Springs’ period as a company town.  I heard it first from Connie Perry.  I called her to get dates and background for a photo of the strike we were including in the book.  When I tolkd Connie’s amazing story to County Commissioner Stacy Dugan, whose father and husband both work/ed at the sand mine, she decided she wanted to hear more.  She assembled a group of about a dozen men, past and present sand company employees and we heard their stories too.

The time was 1967-70.  The situation was unionization of Pennsylvania Glass Sand workers by the Teamsters.  It resulted in the lock-out of 38 men and a three year ordeal eventually ended in the workers’ favor by a Federal trial in Berkeley Springs — with a female judge no less.  “She was realy tough,” remembered one man who also had words of praise for the National Labor Relations Board lawyer who persisted and won the case.  The men returned to their jobs.  The family -owned PGS was soon sold to mega-corporation ITT and the company town attitude — with both its many benefits, and its limitations — existed no longer.

Memories last long in situations like this even with many of the players no longer with us.  Some folks still shop at Pittman’s in Hancock because they supported the strikers.  Some remember hassles among the kids in school.  Whichever side one was on, the PGS strike was an important piece of local history and I was glad to hear it. 

200 Research Projects

As we near the finish line and I start actually writing the historic photos book, I am repeatedly grateful for my experience with doing the text for the two West Virginia contemporary photo books I wrote for Steve Shaluta’s photos.  I learned from that process that good text for photos is not text that literally describes what you are seeing — redundant — but adds value through back story information.  For “West Virginia Beauty,” with its 170 plus photos, I engaged in 170 plus mini research projects.  “Berkeley Springs Images” is being the same except for a larger number of photos — more than 200 — and a more demanding research task.  The history needs to be correct.

There’s another experience that has made the history part MUCH easier.   In fact, I cannot imagine being able to do the historic photo book without this previous experience.  About a decade ago, I took on the job of writing a Walking Tour of Berkeley Springs.  Being manic about having to be right, and discovering that local historians tend to reject the distinction between oral memory and original documents, I set out to find the ultimate information source.  I bought a microfilm reader, set it up in my living room, and spent every night from about 11pm to 2am reading the local newspaper from 1879 through 1939.  Fortunately I knew enough to keep good, date-based notes.  All those news notes, covering virtually the same period as our photos, have proven to be invaluable sources of both accurate and obscure pieces of information.

The point?  Experience pays off — and nothing you do is ever wasted.

Case in point — this Tomato Festival photo we had original rejected because it seemed too staged and what would we say?  Then, in reading news articles in 1939 about the festival, I discovered the photo, which was staged for the 1938 event, was picked up and used as the cover photo for the 1939 Stokes Seed Catalog — a national company.  Now we had a great story to go with a good photo.   We call them the Tomato Hoers.

Laying out the Images

Haven’t posted for a while but that doesn’t mean Betty Lou and I have not been working on the book.  We’ve sorted and sifted and collected a few more photos.  We sent batches to the publisher to make sure they were usable and had to rescan a few more.  But, we now have the final 208 photos that will make up the book.  They are sorted into 10 chapters by topics.

And what are those chapters:
OVERLOOKS — both of town and the rivers.
TAKING THE WATERS — the park, bathhouses and playing in the park.  One of these most probably will serve as the cover because what is more significant to Berkeley Springs than the springs.
FAIRFAX ST – always the prime street with shops, Courthouse and more.  Over the century of photos, it has changed …and has not changed.
INDUSTRY AND FARMING – from early tanneries to the sand mine to the farming that made up peoples daily life for most of the region’s history.
FIRES & FLOODS – drama.
FESTIVALS AND PARADES – the Tomato Festival is a biggie but there were others including a 1925 Veterans Day celebration that offered some exquisite images.
HOTELS – the reason the town was formed in 1776 was to encourage the development of lodging for the ailing who came to take the waters.
TOWN LIFE – fun in town
AROUND AND ABOUT – what folks did in the county
PEOPLE – because it’s always been about the people.

It was a challenge to decide what photos within each chapter should be together; which one should be on the title page and which the final page leading to the next chapter; and what the order within a chapter should be.  There are little “secrets” that Betty Lou and I wove into the arrangement of the photos that it will be interesting to see if anyone figures out. We had lots of chuckles about them.

Now the writing begins.  We have a deadline of mid-March so the work moves into high gear.  If we turn down requests for us to do something else in the next two months…you’ll know why.

Jeanne lying out photographs

It's harder than it looks to find the right photo for the right place.

SS Buzzerd & the Collapsed Hammock

There are no coincidences.  As a pattern unfolds it sets up force fields that draw into the pattern farflung or hidden pieces that need to be a part.  That’s what happened when we began looking at the Buzzerd family photos.  I had gone through the albums and loose photos that Linda and Warren Buzzerd uncovered.  I was brining them to show Betty Lou.  Independently, or not, she had a file folder of SS Buzzerd’s As I Recall columns written circa 1949-51.  We looked through the photos.  Betty Lou was able to identify a number of people including – Pearl Buck at lunch at the Park View Inn after a visit to the Berkeley Springs Library.

There were several photos of camping excursions along the Cacapon River.  A historians dream, they were labeled, dated and the people identified.  Usually a group of young men, in one, a collapsed hammock was visible.  Another series was a photo shoot at Buzzerd’s Morgan Messenger at about the time he was writing the columns.  They are wonderful photos, sharp and clear showing SS at the linotype, setting type, and at the typewriter.

Founder of the Morgan Messenger local newspaper 1893

SS still at work

I started reading through SS’s columns when I got home and was astonished to read a section dealing with a camping trip when he was a young man.  The date on the photo was 1900.   And the story…

Perhaps the first time I ever went on a week’s camping and fishing vacation was some 50 years ago.  The party was made up of brother Charley, cousin Henry Fisk, Johnny Casler, Irvin Dawson and myself.  We pitched camp at the Ziler springs where the pure, cold mountain water empties into Cacapon Creek just below where the Club House now stands.  We had no tent so for a shelter, we carried boards from what was at one time a sawmill nearby.  The hastily built shelter, being poorly constructed and with the weight of hammocks in which we tried to sleep, fell down on us early one morning.  Fortunately, no one was hurt; also fortunately it did not rain while we were there.

Most fortunately…they had a camera with them.

The makeshift shelter collapsed taking down the hammocks.

Finding an original Moray

Week of Aug 8

I knew who John Moray was.  His famous 1889 panoramic lithograph of Berkeley Springs can be found on local walls, notecards and online.   The most recent limited edition was reprinted and sold by the Chamber of Commerce.  It may be Berkeley Springs’ most durable piece of art.

In my marathon newspaper reading ( “The News” – 1870 through 1939 on microfilm) I had discovered more about him and his work.  And then, in the search of historic photos that is Images,  I found a Moray worthy of turning into a Museum exhibit.

John Moray was an artist, sign painter and photographer who apparently wanted to do his part in spreading the word about Berkeley Springs.   He was a photographer when he arrived from Rome, Pennsylvania in 1885 and was first mentioned in The News where he advertised himself available for sign painting or picture enlarging.  He worked with glass negatives.

The News reported in September 1887 that Moray was busy taking pictures of prominent places in the town and county.  By April 1889, he had turned these images into the now legendary Moray Print.  In his later years, Moray became a devotee of James Rumsey and was instrumental in creating and placing the Rumsey millstone monument in the park.

Back to the present and the fascinating unearthing of both photos and stories.

The Mendenhalls were a prominent and wealthy family in Berkeley Springs with a homeplace in Sir Johns Run.  Their brick house on Wilkes St., built in 1884, has been restored and is on the National Register.

When I saw the roughly treated image of the older woman in a box of stuff at the Museum, I knew it was a painted photograph and immediately thought of Moray.  Then I turned it over and saw the writing: John Moray, 1887 of Mrs. Mendenhall.  I had my suspicions confirmed by a couple folks who agreed it was a photograph that had been painted.  Then, I found the tiny photo in a metal case common to the Victorian era.  It was the same woman.  The same pose.   Must have been one of the “enlargings” he mentioned in his ad.

Hospital Scrapbook

Morgan County is fortunate to have a hospital.  Today’s War Memorial communityhospital started out life in 1933 as The Pines or  Cripple Children’s Hospital.  We have a photo of FDR on his visit surrounded by children.  It was believed that bathing in the spring waters helped those stricken with polio.

In the late 1940s, local civic leaders banded together to save the closing facility and turn it into a community hospoital.  War Memorial still serves the community today in the same location although its owner, Valley Health, has broken ground on a new $30 million hospital just out the ridge from the current location overlooking the town.  The Pines will soon enter a new phase.

For our project, the hospital scrapbook was a good source.  I went up to the hospital on Thursday afternoon,  7/29, picked up the scrapbook from the custody of Lyn Goodwin and went back downtown to call Betty Lou and bring the scrapbook for her to see while I scanned it.  It turned out, she was at the hospital.  (Only overnight.  She’s OK.)  I returned to the hospital and her room and we looked at the scrapbook.

The bulk of the photos in the “historic” section were from a photo shoot in 1960 (we ater learned.)  As we looked at them, Betty Lou exclaimed: “I think that’s Mary Lou Trump.”  The young nurse in the photo certainly resembled Kirsten, Mary Lou’s daughter.  I sent the photo to Kirsten who confirmed and dated it.  “Mom remembers that shoot,” she said.

The Mendenhall Collection

Today (7/15) I flew solo since Betty Lou went to watch her 12 year old grandson compete in a major tennis tournament in Washington.  I went to the Historical Society to explore the Mendenhall collection.   Nancy Largent graciously stayed and helped me for about two hours as we plowed through mostly unidentified photos.  As a Hovermale with endless roots in the county, Nancy was able to recite various lineages of the folks we saw.

There were several treasures including a photo of John Hunter who built many of the major houses in town at the turn of the 20th century.  I’d never seen him before.   More photos of young men and young women in the park spoke to how it was obviously a major outing for locals.  One interesting photo is shown here — Route 9 west over Cacapon Mountain probably soon after the road was built in the early 1920s.

Looking for Farm Photos

Dawn Childs is a VISTA worker assigned to the local foods folks here.  She’s been collecting information on Morgan County farmers for months.  Early on, she volunteered to ask about using their photos in our book and this week shared some from Julian Hovermale, one of the icons of the local farm community.  Among our favorites was this one of a young Julian (circa late 20s) with a giant rooster.

As part of saying thanks, I brought Dawn along on Thursday (7/9) as Betty Lou and I reviewed our photos to date.  Even better than a hundred or more vintage photos was Dawn’s chance to meet my legendary co-author.  Everyone had a great time.

A couple more weeks and we’ll be ready to go public with a call to fill in the gaps we may have.  My tentative new chapters headings are: Hotels; Farms and Industry; Town Life; “The Grove,” Fires and Floods; Festivals and Parades; Bands and Musicians.

Dawn Childs reviews photos with Betty Lou

Checking out the images

Julian and the giant rooster

We still have not decided on a cover.  There are technical requirements and then there’s the search for the most compelling photo we can find so folks MUST buy the book.  Here’s an early candidate: Charlie Jack’s stagecoach which was the shuttle bus of the 19th century bringing folks from the railroad stop along the Potomac at Sir Johns Run to the hotels in town.

Follow Jeanne on Facebook by clicking here.

Follow The Star Theatre on Facebook by clicking here.