Wandering through a swap meet market in Mobile, Alabama, area, I found a whole wall of southern girl and southern themed t-shirts. I didn’t buy one, but I loved the representation.
Of the last photographs I have of my father, this one is a favorite. It features my father, Howard West, and my husband, Brent VanFossen, walking the campground in Mobile, Alabama, where we lived for a year and a half. It was about four or five months after Hurricane Katrina and the panic of the aftermath had died down in the campground, which was used as a staging area by insurance and recovery workers.
One of the victims of Hurricane Katrina was the little tiger tabby kitten that arrived at our campsite the night I arrived with my father from Seattle. I brought him to us in Alabama to spend a winter being warm instead of freezing in his cold and damp house up north. The kitten, eventually named Holiday, arrived on Thanksgiving and by Christmas we knew he was ours.
Holiday loved to go on walks, following us around the campground, but always returning back with us demanding the love and attention he missed, losing his family, cat and human, in the storm. We tried for weeks to track down his owners to no avail, and now, we couldn’t imagine life without him.
As I look at this picture of the three of them, I remember how happy my father was there. Not completely happy, but content to sit out in the sun, read his book, and talk to the locals. And he adored that kitten. We’d brought his own cat, but there was something about Holiday – you just couldn’t help but want to snuggle him close.
My father died a few months later, after 30 years battling health problems. He rarely walked, but he got around quite a bit in the warmth of the Alabama winter.
For me, it’s the way I want to remember my father.
I enjoy photographing man-made subjects from time to time and found myself with a lot of old cars in my files. Personally, I’m not a car fan. I don’t care what I’m driving, it’s merely transportation. If it gets me from point A to point B safely, I’m happy. So it’s odd that I would have a small inventory of antique car pictures, photographed from around the country and beyond.
When I stop to think about why I have these, I think it’s the patterns and shapes. I find grinning or growling faces in the front grills of these gasoline beasts. I like the reflections in the circular tire hub caps. I find eyes in the headlights. And I just like the patterns and shapes, the lines, textures, and shiny of this preserved relics of past transportation options.
This collection comes from the pitiful attempt at a home show after Hurricane Katrina in Mobile, Alabama. I went to look at new home features as we were starting to think about building our future home, and my father went along for the fun, finding great entertainment in the old cars. I’m not sure why there were featured at the home show, but with so little there, and so few people in attendance, it didn’t hurt.
The Magnolia Festival princesses are an honored tradition in Mobile, Alabama, harkening back to the southern bell days of plantation life. Festivals through the Spring and Summer are attended by local young women dressed in this flouncy hoop skirts of bright pastels in pinks, yellow, green, red, and purple.
At a local festival, one of the princesses paused to talk to a little girl on the street, comparing shoes or outfits. Both in pinks, I couldn’t resist grabbing the moment, seeing a future princess in the young girl. A timeless moment.