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  • Betty Girardeau

The Beauty of Old things


In the fall of 2016 I had the opportunity to take a week-end photo workshop at Old Car City in White, Georgia. I expect some of you wonder why in the world I would want take a workshop learning how to photograph rust, pealing paint, and very old and abandoned vehicles? The simple answer is that I think they are both sad and beautiful. Each one hides a story of love and loss. Additionally, it was a bit of a walk down memory lane as I spotted cars similar to ones that I remember my family owning when I was growing up. Old Car City, established in 1931, is renowned for being the world's largest classic car junkyard. It covers thirty-four acres and is the final resting place for over 4000 American made cars, including the last car ever bought by Elvis Presley. We had perfect weather the entire week-end and the trees were beginning to shed their leaves. The vehicles are arranged in an orderly way, and it is easy to amble along the pathways and get a good look at them. The rust colors of fall further enhanced the rust of the vehicles. It was interesting that those of us that were there felt a need to talk in low or whispered voices, too. Somehow, we could sense the spirits of those who had formerly had so much pride in what had once been their shiny and over-chromed cars and trucks. It was easy to imagine sons and daughters being taken out by their dads and taught how to drive, or a shy young man coming to pick up his prom date after spending the afternoon waxing and polishing the family car. Perhaps in some of these cars newlyweds made their get-aways and later brought home their first child from the hospital. But in time the car companies would bring out new models, and the owners would decide that they wanted to up-grade to the latest model. Maybe for a time the once beloved vehicle would have a new owner who would love it. But its destiny was already written and it ended up at Old Car City. There, nestled in the long grass and pine trees, it began to slowly decay. Cars and car parts are in various stages of this and each is worthy of being photographed either up close or in place. There is tremendous beauty in the slow decomposition of metal which shares a spotlight with bits and pieces of the original and, sometimes, subsequent paint colors. I loved my two days there, and highly recommend it to anyone with a love of classic cars, photography, or just a place to recapture memories of youth.

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