JF Ptak Science Books LLC
Sometimes the beginnings and ends of things show up in unexpected places. Penzias and Wilson at Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey, discovered that the reason for the "interference" readings that they were receiving in their instrument was not due to pigeon poop, but was actually the remnant radiation of the Big Bang. And it didn't look like much, but the stuff that caused the end of the great American Western frontier was found in simple lines: ribbons of steel for the railroads, on the one hand; and twisted bits of sharp metal wrapped around wire, the barbed wire fence ultimately and very cheaply closing off the vast land into manageable parcels, on the other. Stories like these are legion.
It is infrequent to find the two combined though in a simple, single photograph. This is the case, for me, in this small (1-inch tall) image found in an obscure publication called The Kentucky Mountain Echo, a True story of the Mountains, published in 1929. The small, delicate pamphlet seemed the physical opposite of the stories that it told, rocky and rough bits of life from the Kentucky mountains, hardscrabble farms, luscious woods and company coal mining towns.
The Rev. Bud Eversole is pictured here--along with his dog--at the spot in his farm in which he was taken by the guiding light, the holy spirit; an invincible vision took hold of him and never let go. Rev. Eversole continued to work his farm and taught the scriptures for free for many years afterwords as a roving minister. He marked the spot of his conversion with a pole; he also determined that the pole would mark his grave, the ultimate place of rest for him at the very spot where he was "born".
For all that it symbolizes, the image looks pervasively unsettled to me--Rev. Eversole (I have no idea if that was his real name or if it was a post-conversion creation) looks like he is waiting for something, anything, even for the late afternoon sun to just hurry up and warm his back. This area of his farm just looks a mess, not like a small farm kept between and along rolling hills (no treat, that). The Rev. doesn't tell me much, except that he was obliged to allow his dog in the photo, and took off his broad-brimmed hat to have his picture made. Perhaps that is all that he wanted to say.