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Picture of the day - December 10, 2008

"Return to the old homeplace"

Photo of the home where our friend Phyllis Helton lived as a young girl.
Photo courtesy of Phyllis Helton.

They say "You can't go home again", and in many ways that's true. Times past are just that, little more than memories of our childhood years tucked safely away in the inner recesses of our minds. In times of reflection, joy and sorry, we can call upon those old memories to sooth our souls and take us back to a simpler time, but like it or not those times are in the past and gone forever.

But sometimes it is indeed possible to "go home again" and see some of those old memories spring back to life - if only for a little while. Our good friend Phyllis Helton of Bristol, Virginia recently had a chance to return to her old homeplace, and she came away from it a short while later with several pictures, and no doubt dozens of precious memories that she had long ago lost track of.

During her visit Phyllis found the spring from which her family had drawn their water so many years ago, now partially hidden by decades of overgrowth but still pouring out gallon after gallon of cool, refreshing water nonetheless. The old barn where they hung their tobacco and in which she often played was still standing, as was the little house her family called home. Of course those structures are showing the effects of decades of neglect and exposure to the elements, but standing they were when she and her brother drove the mile or so up the "holler" and got out to take a look around.

In all likelihood that was the one and only visit Phyllis will ever make to her old homeplace that's located just down the road from Abingdon, Virginia's historic Whites Mill, but it was a visit she will always remember because of the memories it pulled from their hiding places way back in the far corners of her mind. I thank the good Lord for those rare opportunities when we can indeed "go home again".
Visitor Comments...
    Name: Tara Collins
    Town: Blacksburg, VA

    I just love this picture! It reminds me of the times when we used to visit my grandparents up in their "holler" in Lee County, Virginia when I was a little girl. I'm a grad student at Virginia tech now so I've been away from "home" for a few years, but I'm from a little town called Gate City which isn't very far from Bristol. One day I plan to return to that Lee County "homeplace" and hopefully bring back a few memories of my own. Mrs. Helton, thank you so much for this extremely inspiring photograph and the very interesting story that goes along with it!
    Name: Anthony Tolliver
    Town: Albany, NY

    This isn't one of better photos I've seen on this site from a "technical" standpoint, but it is one of the best images you have ever published because of its meaning to Mrs. Helton. Pictures don't always have to be "perfect" in order to be outstanding - and this one is outstanding.

    Name: Amanda Littlejohn
    Town: Sioux Falls, SD

    What a wonderful way to start my day! The first thing I do when I get up each morning is check out the Picture of the Day, and this one just made my day!

    Name: Cheria Rouse
    Town: Abingdon, VA

    Memories and visits back to the "good ole days" sure do a lot for our hearts. Thanks Phyllis for sharing with us some of your "precious memories". I also recently visited an old house that I lived in as a child and enjoyed every memory.

    Name: Rebecca Johnson
    Town: Washington State

    Lovely nostalgic capture - beautiful scene.

    Name: Phyllis Helton
    Town: Bristol, VA

    Thanks for publishing a bit of my heart. And I thank all of the people who made such kind comments.

    Name: Rick Rouse
    Town: Abingdon, VA

    It was my pleasure and a great privilege to publish your photograph and relay your story to the world Phyllis. My goal for is not simply to publish pictures that are "great photographs" from a technical perspective, but to also share snapshots that reflect the essence of our lives with the world.

    As Mr. Tolliver said above, photographs don't have to be technically perfect to be outstanding images - it is often the meaning and symbolism behind an image that makes it great. And this one is indeed great in my opinion. Thank YOU for allowing me to share it - and the interesting story behind it - with our friends and neighbors all around the world.

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