by Susannah Johnson
From daguerreotypes to tintypes, the names and processes can be confusing, but the faces shine through from another time.
Currently on display at the Washington Historical Museum is Vintage Wilkes County Photo Exhibit. The collector and historian of all these wonderful shots will be on hand to show and expound on the various subjects and types of turn-of-the-century photos. Mark your calendars for Saturday, Nov. 10 and Saturday, Nov. 17 to meet Skeet Willingham and tour the show.
Old photographs have a way of holding your gaze, giving a glimpse of a person and lifestyle long gone. Imagine a Victorian lady holding perfectly still for a long exposure, then turning her head with a smile on her lips, the spell broken, anticipating a beautiful likeness.
Not that all antique photos were humorless; Stern Simmons III was captured on film, all 650 pounds of him! Another man lets his dog hold the rifle. A young lady steps right into a blooming bush, so it looks as though her head and (considerable) hat are one of the flowers.
There's even a pic of dinner on a silver plate - how Facebook!
The pictures are a peek into what was. Some of the earliest scenes of downtown Washington show the old bank building, now torn down, and the old courthouse that was more to center of the square than our courthouse today. There's the Fitzpatrick, with a trolley car parked in front. One captures a lady crossing a muddy street - imagine the hours of scrubbing the hems of those long dresses, as the dirt would have been unavoidable. Another lady looks to be quite proud of her hat, including the full-size dove diving down to the brim in front! Yet another is clearly four generations, posing on the front porch.
Fascinating also is the c. 1907 photograph of the museum, then the Barnett-Bounds house. Two children are in the front, one holding what looks to be a badminton racket, another youngster on a small horse, another in front of the horse, a parked bicycle, parents (presumably) on the porch, and there...look closely...just behind the ornamental grass planted in the front, is a wee bairn sitting on the porch steps in a white pinafore.
Take your time, and look carefully. There's more there than meets the eye with a casual glance!
Join us November 10th and 17th at 10:30 am for a special Curator's Tour of the exhibit given by Robert M. Willingham Jr. $7 (pretax) includes museum admission and the tour. Tickets available day-of, come early as space in the gallery is limited. See you there!