Whenever I have time and am in place to do so, I work on what appears to be my never-ending Central City project. Mostly, I look for things that help tell the story as I see it. But, I get lucky once in a while. During my last drive through, I ran into a guy called Dilly Walker. He’s lived in Central City for sixty plus years. He pretty much grew up there, except when his family moved to Carrollton. He told me that a lot of older families moved from Central City to other places in New Orleans because they could have back and side yards. As he tells it, his family were country people from Magnolia, Mississippi. That’s just south of McComb. His grandmother wanted to move to New Orleans and so the family moved. But, nobody remembers why. When they got to the city, they settled in Central City. But, they didn’t like it because the houses are packed closely side-by-side. Even the backyards were filled with what we would now call mother-in-law or back houses. So, they moved to the Carrollton neighborhood, where they could have a backyard for the children. There’s a lot of history to the area. For instance, during the Civil War, soldiers drank a lot of whiskey and were mostly drunk. Their commanding officer allowed them to drink because he believed it kept them safe from “country fever.” The section where Mr. Walker’s family lived is known as “Black Pearl.” It is closest to The Mississippi River. Today, the area is known for… what else? Restaurants and entertainment.
Even though I make a lot of sort of, somewhat, possibly artistic pictures. It’s pictures like the one of Dilly Walker that I like to make. I enjoy listening to, and telling, their stories. I guess that’s why my first jobs were as a photojournalist and my last college degree was more-or-less focused on ethnography. There are plenty of stories to tell. Maybe even books to photograph and write. We’ll see. First, I have to stay around. Second, I have to find the energy. This isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon.