It’s been almost a week since we’ve arrived in Booneville, Ky and considering it’s such a small town we have started to become locals. People are no longer curious about us and just accept that we are running around all over town shooting video and taking pictures. We have spent time gathering B-Roll and interviews and people getting food. All in all, it’s been an incredible experience and I don’t regret choosing to come here and meet with these amazing people; but we’re not done yet. We were scheduled to make our way to the Senior Citizen Center to share a meal with a lot of seniors in the area who use this center for camaraderie, socialization and lunch. We had stopped in early in the week to meet with the seniors here but they told us we needed to come back at the end of the week because they were serving a special meal and all the seniors in the area would be in attendance so we obliged them and agreed to come back at the end of the week. The senior center is a great community center and while we were filming they were in the process of constructing a new gathering area so all the seniors were in a smaller area of the center. Even though it was a smaller space it was still full of great, jovial seniors who, like the rest of the people I have met, were just as friendly and welcoming as most everyone I had met in Booneville.
One couple in particular, Henrietta and Clyde, was so much fun to be around and just had me laughing. Clyde is 86 and Henrietta is 81. We first met Henrietta on Saturday night when we went to Dooley’s Diner to listen to Bluegrass music and go Clogging with the townsfolk. Yes, I just used the word townsfolk. And, we met Clyde at the “Table of Truth and Knowledge” earlier in the week at Dooley’s Diner. I hope I am as active, sharp and spunky at 81 as Henrietta is; she’s someone I really enjoyed getting to know and talking with whenever I saw her. She is, as I have heard people say before, a “firecracker.” I hope I get back to Booneville soon enough just to spend time with her and Clyde.
We spent time with the seniors while they had lunch and they were gracious enough to allow Kaleb and me join them for a great meal. Prior to the meal they wanted me to call Bingo so I, once again, obliged them and called several Bingo games (which has become a recurring theme whenever I would travel to a senior center) and I had more fun than I expected I would calling Bingo. I attribute that to the company of people more than the act of calling Bingo. The people made it so much more enjoyable for me and truly enjoyed making them laugh and, at time, entertaining them.
I was feeling very benevolent that day. I don’t know what it was or why but the people of Booneville had affected me in a way that I had never experienced. So, I wanted to do something nice for some of the people we had met. Whether is was buying lunch, dinner or dessert I wanted to spend my own money and give back to the people who have given Kaleb and me so much. One family in particular, the Hollan family, really resonated with me. I don’t know if it was my first meeting with Stormy who is originally from San Diego but now lives with her husband Simon Hollan in Booneville (Simon is originally from Booneville and they moved back to help take care of the family), or the first time I met the matriarch of the family Nannie Hollan or just talking with all of the members of the family that made me really like and connect with these people but something happened and I hold a special place in heart for them. So I wanted to do something nice for them and I wanted to take their photo. Since I was going to their home to ask to take their photo I had the manners enough to go there with something in return. Kaleb and I went to the local Dollar General Store (there are two in Booneville – The Family Dollar and The Dollar General Store) and I bought two gallons of milk and I bought Nannie some “comfy” clothes. When I first met Nannie she was wearing some fleece-type pants and a matching shirt. I don’t know if it was her pajamas or her “lounging-around” clothes but they were bright, colorful and looked really comfortable.
After stopping at the dollar store we made our way to their house and went up to say hi. When we approached the house, I noticed the front door open but couldn’t see inside so I just started calling out for Stormy or Nannie or Simon to come out. When I did I saw more of the Hollan family than I had met so far. Not only was there Nannie, Simon and Stormy but they all paraded out of the house and onto the porch. Here I met Stormy and Simon’s two children, Patrick who is Simon’s other child and Simon’s Sister Better who is dating Shawn (pictured with the buzz cut – I had met Shawn a couple of times before this photo was taken). I was expecting to see a few people but now there were eight. We presented them with their goodies and they were, as I expected, thankful and grateful for their gifts and I asked if I could take their photo. They agreed and we took a few pictures. Some are good and others are not so good. That last statement has nothing to do with the Hollan family but the fact I was only traveling with my camera and a couple of speed lights and no light modifiers or softboxes. Could I have taken better photos if I had my studio equipment? Well, um, YES! But I made the most with what I had and tried to take really nice snapshots and not award-winning photos.
We chatted for a while and went on our way. I think of the Hollan family as my friends and hope to see them again someday. Once again, they are a prime example of people who may not have a lot in terms of money or fancy, designer clothes or a house full of frivolous items but they make the most of what they do have. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is not a way of life for most people in Booneville and that’s OK with them. They are happy to have their lives and try to make the most of what they do have while living in one of the most beautiful areas of the country.
Tomorrow we say good-bye to Booneville and start to make our way to Orlando.
See you then,