Friday, April 15, 2005

Backroads of Mississippi

On a hot summer afternoon when few residences had the luxury of air conditioning, a motorcycle ride in the country was my source of cooling down. Escaping the steamy asphalt of city streets often took me outside Memphis city limits and into neighboring Mississippi. The year was 1968 and gravel and dirt roads were abundant in Desoto County. But that's alright with me momma because a large canopy of trees cooled the dusty trails. On this ride I encountered children running along side of my bike while curiously scanning a white stranger. I came to a stop and attempted to strike up a conversation only to find them big-eyed and bashful. They were inspecting my characteristics as much as I was inquisitive to theirs. It was as if suddenly I had landed on another planet. Snaggle-toothed, bare footed and soiled clothing fit their profile. Several minutes passed when I began photographing their innocence. I was joyed by their presence but saddended by their squaloring lifestyles. It was hard to believe that I was viewing people living like this in America.


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