Category Archives: black & white photography

The Creek

Back in the day, I used to love hanging out at the Rodanthe Creek. Originally built as a Pamlico Sound access for the Coast Guard, it was bulkheaded and was one of the few protected harbors for local fishermen to use. It was always fascinating to see what they were catching.

It was also a good spot for honing my photography. I bought Kodak Panatomic-X black and white film in 100 foot spools and rolled my own 35mm cassettes. Then I’d develop the film at home in the darkroom. The creek was only a few hundred yards away from my house.

I’ve never shown these photographs from this period before, and it’ll never be like that again.

Dale A young Dale Midgett ran the fish house. He had an entrepreneurial spirit and packed fish for wholesaler Jimmy Austin.

derelicts Derelict boats were part of the landscape.

derelicts 2 John Herbert’s sail skiff sat high and dry on shore. It was one of my favorite boats with classic lines, and was featured in my New Inlet and Skiff photo, shot in 1979.

mojon Harry Midgett’s trawler was at the dock for much needed maintenance. He eventually took it shrimping to the Gulf of Mexico, where I heard it sank and was lost.

boat I don’t know who owned this workboat, but I admired it’s design and narrow stern.

nets bruce m                  Bruce Midgett prepared his nets at one of the fish houses on the north side of the creek.

pound net Bruce and Dale set up pound nets a mile out in the sound.

Bruce Bruce loved fishing the pound nets.

Jobob                                                            Joe Fegundes, known as Jobob, was also fishing from the Creek.

Corley Ed Corely was an avid fisherman. I helped him for a few months. It was hard work. Ed moved to Coos Bay, Oregon to work on an ocean trawler. On a New Years Eve, he went down with the boat and was never found.

Selby jr                                                             Selby Gaskins, Jr. was always helping out at the fish house.

GlenMartin Maestas and Glen Boykin were gill netting from this Privateer. Fiberglass boats had become more common than the traditional wooden boats. Glen married Selby Jr’s sister, Teresa, and I shot their wedding.

Irvin                                                             Irvin Midgett was another young fisherman, and still fishes some today. He runs a successful campground and is always willing to help others.

Dale net dale m                 Back then, Dale Midgett made a decent livelihood as a fisherman.

Mac's rig One of my favorite shots was taken of Mac Midgett’s haul seine rig. In a way, it symbolizes the best of times.

Vintage Surf

It’s been a year since my lifelong friend, Robin, passed away, so I’ve been contemplating our relationship and good times. It’s hard to believe it’s over and done. We all have opportunities to love and enjoy life, and Robin certainly did. What a gift!

His worldly possessions have been dispersed as he wanted. Among the items he left me was a fairly large collection of photographs. He was many things, hunter-gatherer, prolific reader, jack of all trades and surfer. Most people don’t realize the amount of photography he produced.

I spent last winter going over thousands of photos he made since his early teens. Many of those images were inconsequential personal memories, but there are many that have merit.

northside Taken from the north jetty.

Of particular interest to me are Robin’s photographs contained in an album from his early days surfing at Indian River Inlet in Delaware. I didn’t know him then, but it’s about the time I learned to surf a 9’6” Bing there. It was a good wave and a good place for a young surfer to make friends and integrate into a new lifestyle.

These old Polaroid photographs taken in 1967 and ’68 are one-of-a-kind originals.

longboards I think Robin is on the far right, the others are unidentified.

surfari I don’t know where this Polaroid was taken, but it looks typical of rural Delaware.            A 19 year old Robin stands between two unidentified friends while changing a flat tire.

gemini 1 A few years later, surfboards got a lot smaller. Robin took this snapshot of his team mates from Gemini Surf Shop out of Rehoboth Beach, perhaps about 1970. Dave Isaacs, Gary Revel, Jeff Ammons, Bryant Clark, Brent Clark, Skip Savage, Karl Gude and one unidentified. Who knows who he is?

When most people take a picture, they don’t realize they’re making a historical record. As a photographer, I didn’t intend the pictures I took many years ago become history. But in retrospect, I see a lot of value in old photographs, the older the better. If I had it to do all over again, I would opt to do much more shooting of people or things that I routinely took for granted.

Jim Henry

In the late 70’s, when I moved to a house in North Rodanthe, there wasn’t much around at the time… only a few beach boxes with several old family homesteads scattered about. Most prominent in the neighborhood was the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station complex. I used to wander over and take a lot of pictures of the buildings and surroundings. Part of the allure for me was the dilapidated state of the place. It was a palette for some wonderful photography.

Restoration had not yet begun and it was wide open. It was there that I met an older, gray-haired man who also had an appreciation for the place. He was a federal employee working as an economist for the Civil Aeronautics Board, and was nearing the end of his career in Washington, DC. Jim Henry had been visiting the area for years and purchased a tract of land from ocean to sound in 1953 for $3000. His dream was to build a nice house there and live out his retirement.

Meanwhile the Chicamacomico Historical Association, the non-profit incorporated in 1974 to promote and restore the old station, was having problems with a lack of good leadership. Long story made short, Jim was suddenly thrust with taking charge of that responsibility. In 1982 he was elected to manage the organization as it’s president. He had an appreciation for the finer things in life, was well-traveled, educated, loved opera and a martini. At the same time he enjoyed the simple life that the villages had to offer.

One of his first tasks was to rehabilitate and open up the main 1911 building to the public. That included getting it weathered in. Through a series of state and federal matching grants, Jim raised $44,000 to finance a new cedar shingled roof and other exterior projects.

As a result on May 1, 1984, Jim was invited to Washington to give a presentation before the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. It was there that Jim accepted a prestigious award on behalf of the Chicamacomico Historical Association, largely because of his efforts.

Later he gathered historical photographs to mount exhibits. That’s when Jim met with me. My studio was up and running nearby, and he hired me to make printed copies from archived photographs. I mounted hand-made sepia toned prints on foam board, and those became the first exhibits displayed on the station’s first floor.

The boatroom of the main building got cleaned up. There was battleship linoleum glued on top of beautiful heart pine flooring, not to mention lead paint covering the walls.

From then on, I was a willing helper to Jim. The Chicamacomico Historical Association rewarded me with a lifetime membership, and subsequently invited me to join the board of directors. I can’t count the number of times that Jim would pull up in my driveway to get some advice or assistance. I’d roll my eyes back and think, “oh, here we go again”. He was somewhat a persistent pain, but I too loved the old station, and always caved in to help.

In 1988 we acquired a collection of shipwreck name boards from the Fearing family. An exhibit was mounted in the small boathouse. Jim presided at the grand opening. Fearing family representatives were present along with association members, Coast Guard personnel, historians and media. Jim was really proud of this display to educate the public about shipwrecks.

No individual has done so much to save Chicamacomico as Jim Henry. When no one else stepped up to the plate. Jim did. He wanted to tell the station’s history, get it properly restored, and always have free admission to the public. It was a labor of love. He came to the rescue, just in time to save it from falling apart.

An early morning beach stroller, Jim often came back with what he called “treasures from the sea”. Here he holds a lower jaw from a walrus, deposited thousands of years ago during glacial migration through the Chesapeake Bay.

In 1992, Jim passed away after a short illness, and I was elected to the unenviable position of president for the next 6 years. That’s another story.

North Rodanthe Aerial

North Rodanthe is on the edge. From the late 70’s through the late 80’s, I lived in a small house on highway 12 where I set up business selling my prints. The town had eluded much development. There was very little infrastructure, no cable tv, no central water, power outages and flooding were relatively common.

At the time, I was young and more resilient. The locality was my oyster, so to speak. I ate waterfowl, seafood, surfed my brains out, and made photographic prints for a livelihood. I enjoyed the relative isolation of Rodanthe, and reveled the stormy conditions as occasional photographic subjects.

I made these aerial photographs of the north end of Rodanthe around 1980. There were very few beach cottages at the time, and Mirlo Beach subdivision wasn’t even a pipe dream yet.

North Rodanthe in 1980. The “Rodanthe Creek”, where the current ferry terminal is located, is on the lower right.

The view looking east shows Rodanthe Creek and Chicamacomico property all the way to the beach. My house at the time is located in the center of the picture, right on highway 12.

Those were the days!