Over thirty years ago I started buying and selling iron beds in the Washington DC area where I lived and went to school. Back then iron beds were quite plentiful and it would only take a day of driving through the country up in Pennsylvania before I had my truck filled. I had been fortunate enough to have been taken under the wing of one of the best “pickers” in Pennsylvania. His name was Boyd Barr. I wrote a “tribute” page to him and his companion Mary on my my blog. Check it out……..he was a great guy with more knowledge on antiques and life than anyone I’ve ever met. I actually got him started in iron beds……but that’s another story for another time.
Every Wednesday I drive from Washington to the Pittsburgh area where Boyd and Mary lived. I’d stay with them for two nights and Boyd and I would beat the bushes across the state looking for everything under the sun and meeting some of the most outlandish characters you could imagine. The on Friday I’d bring all th things I’d found down to DC and wholesale the to the many retail deal I established a relationship with.
On the way up to Boyd’s I’d pass by a steel foundry that ran 24/7 and had a continuouse flow of pollution spewing in to the air. It was easy to see why Primary colors were unheard of in the Pittsburgh area. Beige, brown, gray…….. it was like watching a Black & White TV. At the time I was taking classes at the Corcoran School of Art through Georgia Washington Univ. where I was going to school. One of my classes was a photography class. One of my assignments was a Black & White evening shot. I took the photo you see at the right hand side. I often wondered if the steel that had been processed in the foundry ever went into making the iron beds I would go on to make a living with for years to come. It was always a favorite photo of mine and never fails to conjure up the emotions and memories that went with the time it was taken.
Close to 40 years after the photo was taken, I took my two daughters to Hawaii on a vacation. My youngest daughter Riley, a very talented photographer with a great eye for composition, took a photo of a “sugar cane ” factory while we were there for the photography class she’s currently taking in high school. She had never seen the photo I had taken until she showed me hers and I dug out this old one from my personal archives that had been buried in the garage. Although she has far more talent than I ever did…..the similarities in our work bare a striking resemblance.
Not really an iron bed story………… but one I enjoy telling.