Tuesday, 31 May 2011

High Shoals: a Postcard Portrait

Buying old postcards in bulk lots is an inexpensive way to acquire rubbish but every so often a batch of cards will emerge that sheds light on a place of surpassing obscurity, except for the 729 people who, according to Wikipedia, live in High Shoals, North Carolina. The cards paint a picture of a neat, orderly, pious community with fine vernacular buildings of the type at which Walker Evans directed his camera in the 1930s when on assignment for the WPA. The Baptist and Methodist churches display a pleasing simplicity of design and some expert carpentry. The only significant human presence is at the Cotton Mill where hired hands transfer cotton bales from the horse-drawn vehicles into the mill. High Shoals today seen from Google Earth still looks neat and orderly and surrounded by forest. A little exploration, courtesy of Street View, located an apparently abandoned building on Dallas Road of the same proportions and profile (though with bricked up windows) as the cotton mill on the postcards.

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