Saturday, August 23, 2008


Waelder, Texas 6 July 1975

When I lived in Texas, one or both days of the weekend was spent on the road photographing. These morning forays rarely ventured more than 50-60 miles outside of Austin, and over the years, I would swear we drove just about every drivable road in central Texas. This particular Sunday morning --7/6/75 -- we (most likely me, Richard, and Larry) drove towards the southwest and found ourselves in the little town of Waelder. Early Sunday mornings were great is these little towns because nothing and no one was moving about to interfere with our explorations. After a stop for donuts and coffee, we headed out and found ourselves in front of this old car dealership. Without "No Trespassing" signs, we walked right in cameras and tripods at ready. In those days, I was shooting 4x5, and both Larry and Richard were shooting 8x10. The above car stood alone in the showroom, the parts bins were full of old now rusted parts, a new engine sat still crated on the floor in the back shop, and every available space in the back was filled with cars. I made the above image, and was searching for something else to point my Wista towards when a sheriff's car pulled up outside. I think the deputy was a bit taken aback when he saw the three of us with view cameras mounted on tripods and each of us draped in some manner with a focusing cloth. Typically he said: "What you boys doin'?" (really he did). We pointed to the cameras and said: "Takin' pictures." And in a very friendly manner he told us the story of the place. Seems one day the owner of the DeSoto dealership walked in, paid off all the employees, moved all his cars - new and used - inside, locked the doors and disappeared. The car in the image above is either a 1955 or 1956 NEW DeSoto with only 8 miles on the odometer, and this is what's left of the car and the building after 20 years of just sitting there. Over the years, vandals and parts seekers have reeked their havoc on the place, there's even a few bullet holes in that old DeSoto. 5-6 years ago I happened through Waelder again, stopped and asked around about the old dealership. About 10 years after I shot this image, the town ordered the vehicles removed to a junk yard, and the build demolished. Still, to this day over 50 years later, no one knows what happened to the owner to moved him to such a drastic action.


Billie said...

Great story. Isn't that the wonderful thing about a photograph, it can bring back memories in detail and well as be an "object" its self.

pitchertaker said...

And I think I have a story about every picture, and I've got a million of'em.


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