Daughter, Arathea Booth, on her wedding day with father, Bill Booth, visiting from Norway, Marshallville, Ohio, 2014
Arathea lives in a rural area near the border of Summit and Wayne counties in Ohio. The land hosts rotating crops of corn and soybeans. The weather has been cold, windy, and rainy for her wedding to Shane Shankland. Bill, her father, is a successful musician who has been living near Oslo, Norway for the past 30 years.
Marjorie Angel in her back yard with hollyhocks, Akron OH, 1998
Since 1991 Marjorie has lived on Clifford Avenue just off of East Archwood Avenue in Akron, Ohio. Born in Dover, Ohio in 1928, she was trained and worked in Akron for many years as a registered nurse. Marjorie retired at age 65 two years after she moved into this home. Resting on a concrete slab, it is a small blue house with vinyl siding. It sits next to the asphalt parking lot of an African-American church in a racially mixed neighborhood in Akron’s Firestone Park. She has been divorced for many years and enjoys living alone; enjoys her small but neat house; enjoys her yard. Gardening and general yard care are important to her and in addition to the nice spray of hollyhocks at the garage door, many other flowers decorate her back, side, and front yards.
(l. to r.) Tina, Ashley, Lerrynn, and Stevie Hummel, mother + children, Norton OH, 1998
Lerrynn’s mother, Sandra, was 16 years old when she gave birth to her in 1968. Lerrynn was raised by her grandmother, Beverly Lemmon. Lerrynn, at a young age herself, gave birth to her eldest, Ashley, in 1985, Stevie in 1987, and Tina in 1991. They are currently living with Beverly and her husband, Jack Lemmon, on Houston Road in Norton where this photograph was made. They are seated on the “Flintstone Bench” that Keith Morlan carved with a 14” Craftsman chain saw he bought from a guy for $40. He went through around eight chains and two bars before he finished the job.
Karmal Dye with Tigger, dog of recently deceased son, Cuyahoga Falls OH, 1998
Tigger was owned by Karmal’s son, Jeff, a carpenter and musician. Jeff, having ongoing problems with drugs and alcohol, for a new start in life, moved from the Akron area to Orlando, Florida where his sister Michelle lived. Very supportive of her older brother, Michelle helped him with lodging and bought him new tools so that he could work. Yet he continued to have substance abuse problems. Overcome by depression, Jeff shot himself in a nice public park. For Michelle, this had been a special place of peace and centering in which she loved to walk her dog in the mornings. Following her son’s suicide, Karmal took ownership of the dog. Jeff’s ashes are buried in a cemetery in Cuyahoga Falls. The ashes of Tigger, who has since died, are buried with Jeff.
(l. to r.) Marc and Salvatore Vitone, father and son at Howard Street, Akron OH, 1999
Marc is Salvatore’s first born. They live near each other, Sal in the house on North Howard Street next door to where they stand. His immigrant mother, Maria, and father, Pasquale, lived there in the past, and it was purchased by Sal upon the death of his mother decades earlier. Marc resides about one mile away on Uhler Avenue. They’re standing in the drive of a house also owned by Sal. In the past, this area of Akron known as North Hill was home to many Italian-American families. Marc’s mother, Marjorie, speaks of feeling quite lost when, newly wed she and Sal moved into the house with Sal’s parents. Growing up in the small town farm atmosphere of New Philadelphia, Ohio, Marjie found the house a foreign place thick with Italian culture forged hard by the Great Depression. She tells of Maria’s turning off the hot water when she, Marjorie, was in the bathtub. The large family would fight a lot when gathered for Sunday meals.
Arathea and Gabriel Booth, mother and son in sunlight beneath a tree, Norton OH, 1999
Arathea, born 1973, is a single mother living in the area of Akron, Ohio. Gabe was born in 1991 with an abnormality of his skull in which the bone plates weren’t free to move as he grew. He had major surgery when he was about 4 months old during which the bones of his skull were separated then reassembled so that he could grow normally. Gabe is a big fan of sharks and dinosaurs, and he sports a necklace bearing what appear to be the teeth of some large animal. Arathea and Gabe sit in the yard of the Houston Road place at which Arathea’s grandmother lives. This property often serves as a gathering place for family.
Keith and Coleen Morlan with their children, Charlie and Jessica, Norton OH, 1999
Visiting at Beverly and Jack Lemmon’s residence on Houston Road in Norton, Keith, Coleen, and the kids are sitting on a bench carved by Keith from an old log. He seems always to have time for his children and those of relatives who visit his in-law’s residence. He spends time teaching them how to play games; how to build things with wood, hammer, and nails; how to be polite and behave properly. He is a good father well-loved by his children. The family lives in the home they own on 8th Street in Barberton. Keith notes he was very happy that day: “I thought my world was perfect but nothing’s perfect I suppose.”
Lerrynn and Stevie Hummel, mother and son at pool, Norton, Ohio, 2000
Along with her other children, Ashley and Tina, Lerrynn has been living with Beverly and Jack at the 3011 Houston Road place in Norton. The property is owned by Beverly’s son, Michael, who resides in Colorado. Mike inherited the house and land from his father and Beverly’s first husband, Rusty, when he passed away several years ago. Stevie is in 8th or 9th grade at Doylestown Middle School and Jack will typically drive him to school each day. The temporary above-ground pool went up recently to provide residents and the frequent family visitors a bit of relief from the warm summer.
Beverly Lemmon holding great granddaughter, Elizabeth Dunn, Houston Rd., Norton OH, 2001
Recently-born Elizabeth is the daughter of Arathea Booth, Beverly’s granddaughter, and Jimmy Dunn, Arathea’s domestic partner. Arathea had been dating Jimmy for some time during which he was convinced it was impossible for him to father a child. This, however, proved not to be the case as evidenced by the unexpected arrival of Elizabeth. Arathea, Jimmy, Elizabeth, and Arathea’s first-born, Gabriel Booth, live together in a nice apartment complex on 31st Street in Barberton.
Jimmy Dunn holding daughter, Elizabeth, in front of East of Chicago Pizza, Barberton, OH, 2003
Jimmy takes a break from his routine as manager of East of Chicago Pizza in Barberton. It’s not unusual for Elizabeth, her half-brother, Gabe, and mom, Arathea, to stop by to visit and eat while Jimmy is working even though he and Arathea are not living together right now. The shop is a sit-down restaurant on the main drag and serves a buffet of different types of pizza along with some pastas, chicken, salad, and desserts. You can have ice tea or soda to drink.
(l. to r.) Marjorie Angel and Rebecca Barile, mother and daughter with flag at Rebecca’s front door, Akron OH, 2003
Rebecca and Marjorie stand in late afternoon sun on the front stoop of Becky’s place on Rhea Avenue. Flags in windows, on porches hung like drapes or on small angled staffs, and as windshield and bumper stickers are usual sights here in northeastern Ohio. Less than two years have passed since the major terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and many are anxious to show their support for the troops. In this part of the country it is not uncommon for families to have members in the military. Two of Marjorie’s sons and one of Rebecca’s daughters are veterans.
Marc Vitone in his back yard with woodpile, Uhler Street, Akron, OH, 2003
Marc’s place on Uhler gets its heat from a nice new wood burning stove located in the enclosed back room. The stove sits to the right as you walk in the door. Ropes, harnesses, boots, chainsaws, and other gear he uses for tree work are hung neatly on the walls or positioned along them out of tripping range. He does a good amount of tree work -- taking them down or keeping them trimmed. It keeps him in good physical condition and well supplied with firewood for winters.
(l. to r.) Charles, Keith, and Jessica Morlan, father with children at Keith’s place, Akron OH, 2003
In his first rental since splitting up with Coleen, Keith is finally enjoying a weekend visit with his children, Charlie and Jessi. Going through a divorce, they have sold the house they owned together in Barberton. Keith has been battling Coleen for access to the kids because he has still been using crack cocaine, while Coleen has stopped doing so. Keith is a skilled worker at M.E.C., which rebuilds and resells tire and rubber factory equipment. When Keith was at work during this first visit, a dealer he did business with came into the house with a machine gun and pistol looking for the $90 owed him for crack. The kids were frightened and called their mother, who came and retrieved them. Keith won’t be able to see them again for another six months or so.
Salvatore Vitone seated in walker outdoors at Country Place extended care facility, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, 2003
In his early 80’s Sal had a number of medical incidents that lead to his admission to a long term care facility. Pushing along in a merry walker, he was able to get out of doors at times locked for residents’ safety. Upon finding a locked door he often becomes angry and tries to shake it open. He suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, which affects his mobility and basic motor control, and the onset of dementia along with pre-existing bipolar disorder. Fighting the Parkinson’s, he struggles to make eye contact with the camera lens. As a veteran of the Pacific Theater during World War II, he likely would have been diagnosed nowadays with post traumatic stress disorder. Sal passed away in his sleep at this facility on April 27, 2004. He was born in Akron, Ohio, February 6, 1922.
Mike Musgrave holding butchered turtle’s shell with neighbor boy, Lucas Beres, Easton, OH, 2003
Mike uses this canoe to harvest turtles and frogs. He has just finished butchering and dressing out a snapping turtle kept for some days in a plastic tub resting in a darkened shed on his property. Most of the animal is now sitting as small white cubes of meat in a glass bowl in the refrigerator.
(l. to r.) Friends Ashley Hummel and Laura Paradis at apartment pool, Barberton, OH, 2003
Ashley is staying at the Valley View Apartments on 31st Street with her grandmother, Beverly, and step-grandfather, Jack Lemmon. She and boyfriend, Joe, share a room in the basement. Ashley and Laura have been friends for years. They met when Ashley, along with her siblings and mother, Lerrynn, lived at the Houston Road property in Norton that Beverly and Jack called home. Typically the kids would stay in the main house and Lerrynn would occupy the shed.
Lerrynn Hummel and son, Paul Massey, on patio of her grandmother’s apartment, where temporarily staying, Valleyview Apartments, 31st Street, Barberton, Ohio, 2004
Lerrynn has recently had problems with her boyfriend and Paul’s father, Ryan Massey. She and Ryan were renting-to-own a nice farmhouse in Doylestown when Ryan developed cancer. He was prescribed OxyContin for pain associated with this disease. Lerrynn, herself, was taking Percocet prescribed for back pain. She began sharing Ryan’s Oxy. Both of them lost their jobs. They lost everything and moved from the farm house. She is temporarily at the apartment of the grandmother, who raised her, Beverly Lemmon. Beverly, herself, moved to this location with husband, Jack Lemmon, to be near her granddaughter, Arathea Booth, and because she liked the swimming pool, though she admits she has never swum in it. Lerrynn helps out around the apartment, cleaning and caring for her kids and the kids of relatives who regularly drop in.
Arathea Booth with children Elizabeth Dunn and Gabriel Booth on their front porch, Ford Ave., Barberton, OH, 2004
Arathea holds daughter, Elizabeth, who cries to sit next to her brother, Gabe, who holds a toy machine gun. With many U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gabe very much wants to join the military and fight overseas. He more often than not wears camouflage clothing. The three live here with Elizabeth’s father and Arathea’s domestic partner, Jimmy Dunn.
(l. to r.) Charlie Morlan and Gabe Booth in combat fatigues with toy guns, Orrville OH, 2006
Since the major terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, many of the kids voice a determination to join the military service and play war with realistic costumes and toy weapons. Gabe and Charlie are doing so at a birthday party for Gabe’s mom, Arathea Booth. Arathea and her two children, Gabriel Booth and Elizabeth Dunn, reside in this government subsidized rental house in Orrville. She moved her family to Orrville following her break up with Elizabeth’s father, Jimmy Dunn. They had been living at the Valleyview Apartments on 31st Street in Barberton; but when Jimmy began spending much of his paycheck on drugs, Arathea left him.
Dorothy Morrison and Bailey Hutchinson, grandmother and granddaughter playing in the Cuyahoga River, Akron OH, 2006
Dorothy’s boyfriend, Marc Vitone, owns a house on Uhler Avenue. If you are a strong walker, it is walking distance from Cascade Valley Park, through which the river passes. The water is cold and fairly clean nowadays. In the last century the Cuyahoga and the Little Cuyahoga were highly polluted in part due to a strong industrial base in northeast Ohio. In 1969 the river famously ignited and burned for a couple hours farther north in Cleveland. Yet even then local kids would play in the river. Dorothy is from West Virginia, a more rural state that in the past has sent many to the formerly heavily industrialized Ohio. Marc’s Labrador retriever mix, Pup, wades in as well.
Domestic partners Vergil Bowman and Amber Sweazy with sunflowers, Doylestown, OH, 2006
Vergil and Amber are visiting Coleen and Denny Sweazy’s place on Rouge Hollow Road. The two dated back in middle school and got back together when Amber was a junior at Chippewa High School in Doylestown. Amber got mad at Coleen and Denny because Coleen wouldn’t let Vergil spend the night. So she moved out from the Doylestown place and into Vergil’s mom’s trailer in Rittman along with his family.
Lower family: Scott, holding younger daughter Samantha, and Heather holding elder, Brooke, in their side yard with deer decoy and dune buggy, Doylestown, Ohio, 2006
Scotty and Heather along with friends and some family are fans of the popular Wellsville, Ohio off-road area. It’s about 70 or 80 miles from their home in Chippewa Township. It takes them about one and a half hours to drive there with their dune buggy in tow, and they visit the place for recreation about two or three times per month. They’ll often camp overnight at a regular location in this area cut through by many challenging dirt roads. Sometimes they will take the two kids if it’s not expected to get too crazy with drinking and other partying. Otherwise they’ll leave Brooke and Sammy with Heather’s mom, Cheryl and husband Mike Musgrave in nearby Easton, Ohio. Scott is a highly skilled mold maker and has worked at Plastipak in Medina for about 10 years. Heather is a licensed practical nurse who works at Heartland Hospice giving end of life care.
Beneath base of a beech tree, Karla Hummel (standing) with sister, Sandra Vitone, and mother, Beverly Lemmon and half-sister, Toni Wright (far left), Westview Mobile Home Park, Doylestown, Ohio, 2007
Karla is in town from Colorado Springs and Sandra from Austin. Today is Tuesday. On Monday the family and friends gathered near the Cuyahoga River at The Gorge Park for a memorial service for brother Michael Hummel, who died in February at the age of 52. He was found dead of no obvious cause on the floor of his bathroom in Denver. From his father, Rusty Hummel, Michael had inherited the house and land on Houston Road where Beverly and husband Jack lived for years rent-free but finally moved from due to tensions with Beverly’s kids and grandkids. Beverly purchased the mobile home in which she and Jack now reside with money she inherited from Michael at his passing.
Jessica Morlan and Tommy Fischer, girl and boyfriend, Doylestown, OH, 2007
Jessica was born 1992. When still a minor, she ran away with a local boy who was around 19 years old. She eventually returned home. The boy was criminally prosecuted and required to register as a sexual predator. Jessica met her current boyfriend, Tommy, when the two were in high school. She was around 14, nearly 15. She will become pregnant when she is 15 and give birth at 16.
(l. to r.) Half-brothers Paul Massey and Stevie Hummel in parking lot behind aunt’s apartment, Doylestown, OH, 2007
Stevie is living at his Aunt Maureen’s apartment with her and her two of her kids, Coyt and David. He’s not working. He spends most of his time just hanging around and smoking weed all day. He refers to himself and his friends as “Portage Street thugs” in reference to the main street running through Doylestown.
Dave Vitone sitting on mowers he has repaired for sale, corner of 3rd and Bailey Road, Cuyahoga Falls OH, 2007
Dave seems always to struggle to find employment. Though he is a laborer and union member, work is forever off and on. He has had ongoing substance abuse problems and continues to wrestle with these. Currently he is working with someone who repairs lawn mowers. The acquaintance does more complicated repairs, and Dave performs simpler tasks in bringing back the mowers such as sharpening the blades. The same guy has a foreclosed house on which he has ceased to pay mortgage though Dave pays rent to live there. Dave’s membership in an Akron Baptist church aids him greatly in dealing with a life that is sometimes hard. He became acquainted with the congregation when a church elder, as part of his ministry, visited Dave when he was serving a stint at the workhouse for some minor crime.
Grace Falitico in her back yard with wheelbarrow and Rose o’ Sharon, Englewood Drive, Stow OH, 2007
Born in 1918 Grace is nearly 90 years old. She lives alone in the house that she and her husband, Carl, built together and in which she raised her two children, Carmine and Christopher. Carl passed away over twenty years ago, about seven years following retirement from decades of labor at Plant 1 of Goodyear Tire and Rubber. With a little outside help she still tends to much of the yard and house work. Born to Italian immigrants she is a lifelong Catholic as much as a function of ethnic background as of religion. She typically attends mass at two parishes each week -- 5:00 PM Saturday afternoon at Holy Family, half a mile from her house and 11:00 AM Sunday at St. Eugene’s in Munroe Falls. She is often called on to sing at church funerals and has in the past been involved in community theater musical productions.
Jessica Morlan and Tommy Fischer with their infant, Jordynn Fischer, Marshallville, Ohio, 2008
Jessica holds her days-old baby with whom she was pregnant while a sophomore in high school. Dealing with morning sickness and other problems, she was booted out due to poor attendance; though she will re-enter and eventually complete her diploma after summer school in upcoming years. She and boyfriend, Tommy, dressed in Renaissance Fair style costumes, are at the house of Jessica’s cousin, Arathea, for a party. Jessica and Tommy are living together in Doylestown at the house of mother, Coleen, and her husband, Denny Sweazy.
Brooke Lower standing at edge of soybean field after bobbing for apples, Fulton Road, Marshallville OH, 2008
At a party organized by her great aunt, Sandra Vitone, Brooke in long gown stands wet in a soybean field that touches the yard where Arathea Booth and her two children Gabriel Booth and Elizabeth Dunn reside. Most years Arathea’s mom, Sandra, a former hippy and Woodstock Music and Art Fair attendee, puts together some themed party such as Hawaiian Luau, Krishna Consciousness, and this year, a Medieval Renaissance Fair party. With a love for ornamentation and tendencies toward hoarding, Sandra being an avid patron of Goodwill and other thrift stores is able to appoint these get-togethers with plenty of props providing fun visual texture.
Arathea Booth seated on a cooler in yard smoking a cigarette, Marshallville, Ohio, 2008
After completing training at a community college in Wayne County, Arathea found employment last year doing initial insurance billing at Wooster Hospital. She enjoys the work and is good at it. Feeling more confident of her income, she moved from government subsidized housing in Orrville to this house on Fulton Road in Marshallville. The place had been rented previously by her niece, Ashley Hummel with boyfriend Joe Wright. Arathea’s teenage son, Gabe, misses Orrville, a small town but a town with numerous businesses, such as Smucker’s Jams, a car dealership, and a downtown. The Fulton Road place sits on a rural and fast-traveled two lane road about twenty minutes walk from tiny and very rural Marshallville.
Grace Falitico seated and napping beneath tree among hostas in her back yard, Stow OH, 2009
This spring Grace celebrated her 91st birthday. She tires easily and nods peacefully as she sits among the hostas in her well-tended yard. Daughter of southern Italian immigrants, Grace was the sixth born in a family of ten children. Three of her older siblings were born in Italy. Hers was a rough childhood, her mother often cold, abusive, and the Great Depression settling on the country during her teen years. A brother, Joseph, the child born after her, was struck down and killed by a delivery van on the streets of Akron. She tells of his lying in state in the family’s front room, head propped to hold it in a more natural position than the vehicle had placed it. She loves to talk. Loves to socialize. Her niece, Judy, purchased a washer and dryer for her yet for the most part she refuses to use it, preferring instead to continue going to the laundromat where she is able to converse with many people.
Grandmother, Sandra Vitone; mother, Arathea Booth; and granddaughter, Elizabeth Dunn, with pool and palm tree backdrop, Marshallville OH, 2009
Arathea’s mother, Sandra, is a creative person who loves putting together a good party. By profession a cook, a baker, and a caterer and by avocation a thrift store shopper, she supplements well-considered but inexpensive props with items gleaned from Goodwill and other second hand stores to assemble themed parties near birthday time of her daughter, Arathea. The annual events occur when Sandra is able to make a summer visit to Ohio from her residence in Austin, Texas. This year they are having a luau among the corn and soybean fields of Wayne County.
Jessica Morlan and daughter, Jordynn Fischer, with sunflowers, Doylestown OH, 2009
Jessica and Jordynn live at the house of Jessica’s mother, Coleen and her husband Denny Sweazy on Rogue Hollow Road. Jordynn, born July 2, 2008, is one year old this month. Jessica has lost her “baby fat” gained during pregnancy last year. She wants to continue to be attractive to Tommy Fischer, who is the baby’s father. Also a young high-school aged person, he is showing interest in other girls of their group. Coleen helps a lot with the baby, and Jessica is trying to reconcile herself to being a 17 year old with an infant to care for. Jessica enjoys getting out with her old friends from high school when possible.
Dave Vitone with tractor on land owned by parents of his wife, Lisa Bishop, Laubert Road, Atwater OH, 2009
Lisa’s parents had a dog grooming business on rural property about 45 minutes drive from Akron. The bank will foreclose on the place but Lisa and new husband, David, will continue to live at and care for the spread. The parents have moved to a small town in north Texas and Lisa wants to follow. Dave finds that area of Texas hot, barren, and isolated. He doesn’t want to move from Ohio. This is causing some tension between the recently wed couple.
Marjorie Angel in pink sweater with pink rose bush, Akron OH, 2009
Marjorie loves flowers and tending to her yard. The rose growing in her back yard for years has been manically productive, putting out canes that climb as high as the house. The plant blooms early and multiple times from spring through summer and into the autumn. With both desire and ability to bend her reality just a bit, she likes to say the bush was given to her by her son, because she bought it when at the nursery with him and his wife, also an avid gardener. Marjorie notes that she “dead heads” the blooms shortly after they dry up. Then more blooms come. Typically the rose has two major blooms per year. In addition to pink, there are here and there red blossoms on some of the canes.
Michelle Winterbotham with father, Duke Dye, in driveway, Cuyahoga Falls OH, 2010
After living in Orlando for 23 years, Michelle moved back to Cuyahoga Falls in August of 2008. Her mother, Karmal, died in 2005 and she now stays with and cares for her father, Claude Dye (aka, Duke). While in Florida, she married twice. First to Jack, who drove semi-tractor trailer rig for the entertainment industry. They were together for 18 years and married for 10 years of that time before they divorced. Attending an evangelical Christian church, Michelle met and married John. She returned with her new husband and his daughter, Celeste to this, her girlhood, home on Ashland Avenue. A coarse gruff person, John was nonetheless very religious and kind to Michelle. He has custody of his daughter, Celeste, who is a “crack baby”, normal in appearance yet mentally slow and immature for her age. Michelle has recently separated from John who became belligerent and unkind. She hopes to find the several hundred dollars necessary to file for divorce.
Marc Vitone and Dorothy Morrison on road leading to their log cabin, Buckhannon, WV, 2010
The road that climbs to Marc and Dorothy’s house is steep and some vehicles will have difficulty reaching the place. They like it like that. He and she met in July of 2006 and started building their cabin from scratch in June of 2007. They moved in, March 2008. Servicing a large number of 4-wheelers, Marc works at Smitty’s Suzuki Center in Buckhannon and Dorothy, driving some distance to work, at P.D.C. (Petroleum Development Corporation) where she does title searches. Buckhannon, West Virginia is the Upshur County seat and it sits near the town of Sago, site of the Sago Mine Disaster, which occurred in January of 2006, killing 12 miners.
Keith and Chuck Morlan, father and son, Akron OH, 2011
Born May 5, 1995, sixteen year old Charlie recently asked to be called Chuck. He just completed sophomore year at Chippewa High School in Doylestown where he received the Gilcrest Award for lettering in three varsity sports (football, wrestling, and track). He is also strong academically. Chuck plans to attend college; Clemson if possible, he notes, realizing this is a primarily African-American university but disdainful of the racism he finds among some of his classmates. He would like to go through college under the U.S. Marines ROTC program and eventually be in a bomb disposal squad. Fairly recently Chuck was angry with his father; but they are currently on good terms, Keith indicating he is no longer using cocaine and is trying to drink moderately. Chuck is visiting his father, wife Nacole, and her daughter Toriann Saab in Akron.
Chuck Morlan and Gabe Booth in back mowing at Coleen and Denny’s, Doylestown, OH, 2011
The boys mow together areas in need of sprucing up. Chuck says this is the first time they’ve worked together on the 3 1/2 acres owned by his mom and her husband. The Work Horse mower that Gabe is sitting was just returned from another location. Chuck estimates if they mow together once per week it should take them about 1 1/2 hour to keep the place looking good.
Lerrynn Hummel in purple top at side of Beverly and Jack Lemmon’s mobile home, Westview Trailer Park, Doylestown OH, 2011
Not too long ago Lerrynn left a rehab facility after months of therapy for drug addiction. Prior to entering she had moved from abusing prescription pain relievers such as OxyContin to shooting up heroine. In 2008 she and ex-domestic partner, Ryan, considered by the state to be unfit parents, lost custody of their son, Paul. Last year she suffered a minor heart attack from withdrawal when hospitalized for another ailment and failing to disclose her drug habit to medical staff. Relapsed and using again, she had no place to stay so is again living with grandmother, Beverly Lemmon. She has been trying to stay clean and find a job and a guy who likes her so she can feel whole. A bad toothache has been vexing her for the past couple days and she is in considerable pain. Still she mentions she might use this picture on her Facebook page.
Beverly and Jack Lemmon at their mobile home, Westview Trailer Park, Doylestown OH, 2013
Jack, now always on oxygen, is recuperating from recent major surgery in which a lower lobe of his right lung was removed. The surgery was followed by chemotherapy. He smoked multiple packs of cigarettes for decades but has now moved to a vapor inhalation device. Yesterday at a doctor’s visit, Jack was informed that he is doing well and should return for a follow up visit in one month.
Steven Hummel with his children Noah and Maci, Mansfield OH, 2013
Stevie has just been released from Ashland County jail where he had been held for probation violation. He was unable to report as required to his parole officer since he was incarcerated in the penal system of another nearby county. He uses the container at right for scrap collection, his primary income stream at the moment. He is looking for other work. Noah and Maci’s mother, Sarah Perry, is a dietary assistant at a local nursing home and is the main income provider.
Gabe Booth with dogs Big Foot (left) and Dink at base of spiral stair, Marshallville OH, 2013
Gabe and the family dogs stand in an area that his mother’s domestic partner, Shane, has carved out in their large well kept yard for storage of automotive odds and ends, trailers, and items of possible future use. Gabe lives here and works as a CNC (computer numeric control) machine operator at JR Wheel. He says he would like to go to trade school and advance professionally.
At her daughter’s wedding altar, Sandra Vitone stands exhausted from work catering the Dia de los Muertos themed ceremony and reception, Marshallville, Ohio, 2014
Sandra Vitone has been visiting from Austin, Texas for about two weeks preparing for the wedding of her daughter, Arathea Booth, to Shane Shankland. For over half year Sandra has been at work making invitations, preparing a large menu, and hand crafting decorations such as the papier mâché skeletons hanging at either side of the wedding altar she stands behind. Sandra is a caterer by profession and has imported her fondness for Mexican culture to this rural area of Ohio not far from Akron.
These photographs have been drawn from an ongoing series of 4x5 and 8x10 negative portraits called Family Records which was begun in 1998 to document members of immediate and extended families of the photographer and his wife. 2017 marked 20 years of work on the pictures. The majority of the portrait subjects live in an orbit around the Rust Belt city of Akron, Ohio, former home to the country’s major rubber and tire producers including Goodyear, Goodrich, and Firestone. Doylestown, Barberton, and other rural communities neighboring Akron serve as locations for many of these images along with Akron proper. The photographs generate dialogues between one another at a number of levels, some directly, as in lineage and interpersonal relation of mother to daughter, father to son, or brother to sister, and some at less specific and more universal places as well. Comment is made on finding purpose or respite in what can be a painful life, on time and aging, on moving from childhood to adulthood, on relations sustained or lost through the years, on masculinity and femininity, on sensuality and beauty seen not only in youth but in age, and on our valuing of ourselves and others not only because of our strengths but, perhaps even more so, by reason of our vulnerabilities.