Photo Essays, Spot News and Stock Photography

Posts tagged ‘kentucky’

West Lexington, Kentucky (1916)


Many of us are now working from home. This evolution in the workplace began years before the COVID pandemic changed the rules of the game. Employers began to realize that there was no longer a need to rent expensive office space if employees spent much of their working day at their computers. Coupled with Zoom or Microsoft Teams employees could be just as efficient working from home. No longer sitting in traffic jams commuting to and from the office. But I do believe that we are social animals, and this absence of contact with colleagues is not a win-win situation. So when you call customer service how can you tell if the representative at the other end of the phone line is working from home? A barking dog or a baby crying would be a good hint. A whistling tea kettle or a ringing door bell would also be a dead giveaway. What seems to happen after the reason for the call is settled, is that you and the representative get into conversations about all sorts of things unrelated to the original query. The weather, family, news of the day, politics and so on. We need that social interaction that we are missing by working from home.

Our lead photo is “Lady at a Spinning Wheel“; West Lexington, Kentucky (1916). Working from home in another time and place. Our current situation is in large part a result of the COVID workplace restrictions. In the time of the “Lady at a Spinning Wheel” the Spanish Flu pandemic was on the horizon. We have not experienced   such an event for a hundred years. In 1918 there was no flu vaccine. People literally went to work in the morning, came home in the evening and died on the same day. Speaking for myself and as a veteran I have taken many vaccinations during my lifetime and I am still here to talk about it. Unfortunately, many of my friends have now died not all because of COVID. Vaccinations that I have had that come to mind are smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio, swine flu, hepatitis, flu, pneumonia, yellow fever, typhoid, typhus, plague, cholera, diphtheria, shingles and now COVID. I might have missed a few. In my opinion we should be thankful to science that we have these marvelous vaccines. In 1918 there were no antibiotics. Penicillin would not be in use until after World War II.

Perhaps if we all follow some simple rules we can get this pandemic behind us. Get vaccinated. Social distance. Wear the mask. It could save your life or mine. When I served in the military in Korea many years ago I saw that the Koreans were wearing surgical masks in wintertime. At the time I thought that this was odd behavior. I was young and I failed to realize that if the breadwinner of the family became ill or died from contracting a disease the rest of the family might become destitute and homeless. With few available doctors and less money to pay for care these people were taking sensible precautions. A small price to pay in order to live and fight another day. Lost lives cannot be replaced.

Madisonville, Kentucky (1952).


From the song “Paradise” by John Prine. “And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, Down by the Green River where Paradise lay, well I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking, Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.” This photo was taken in the neighboring county, Hopkins. “Paradise” (1952).

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Central City, Kentucky  c.1934

“PARADISE” (1971) By John Prine

This recent addition to our collection initially reminded us of the photo “Ditched, Stalled and Stranded” (1935) taken by Dorothea Lange in the San Joaquin Valley, California. However, research has uncovered a previously unknown significance of this image. “Central City, Kentucky c.1934” is just a stone’s throw from Paradise, Kentucky. “Paradise”, the song, was made famous by John Prine. This song is considered by many to be the unofficial national anthem of Appalachia. Located in western Kentucky the lyrics explain the situation with strip mining and the destruction of the natural beauty of the Green River in Muhlenberg County by the Peabody Coal Company.


“Getting by with nothing and making do with less.” – Hillbilly Blood

Geography can serve to connect people or to keep them separated. The great civilizations developed along river valleys, and great trading nations took advantage of the seas.

Those peoples who did not have access to waterways developed their societies at a different pace. Mountain ranges and deserts tend to isolate peoples. The cultures of such people tend to become unique as compared to others who can make contact more easily.

This brings us to Appalachia. Appalachia extends from lower New York State to the deep South along the Appalachian Mountain range. Because of the overall isolation of the region people in Appalachia became self reliant and trusted in each other. Outsiders are viewed with initial suspicion.

“I live back in the woods, you see
A woman and the kids, and the dogs and me
I got a shotgun rifle and a 4-wheel drive
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive”

“A Country Boy Can Survive”  – Hank Williams Jr.