I have been photographing Road Side Memorials for the past two years. In May I presented a slide show and lecture about my project at First Person Arts in Philadelphia. Several people at the First Person Arts lecture encouraged me to expand and continue this project. And now begins the process of meeting and interviewing people who have created some of these memorials in order to tell their stories.
Two weeks ago I interviewed Annie, who lives in Delaware. Ten years ago, when she was 16, her best friend Colin was struck and killed by a drunk driver.Annie and Colin were born a day apart and were inseparable friends their entire lives. In November, it will be exactly ten years, and friends and family will gather at the base of the tree in the small town in North Carolina where Colin died. The tree that Annie fought with the city council not to cut down during the Tree Replenishment program a few years ago. Don't take my tree....she begged. Ten years. Annie cried throughout most of our conversation. The pain is still so real.
Today I interviewed Raymond. On July 14, 2006 Raymond's 8 year old grandson Royel was killed by a woman who was driving under the influence of PCP, while he played in front of his house in Waterbury, Connecticut. Raymond lives in North Carolina and he says the 11 hour drive to his daughter's house after receiving the bad news was the worst moment of his life. The woman who killed Royel had six previous felony convictions and had never spent any time in jail. She has pled guilty, and her sentencing is on September 5th, 2008. Next week is the two year anniversary of Royel's death.
In November I will drive down to North Carolina to be there for the tenth anniversary of Colin's death. I hope to take some portraits of Annie and her family. From there I will drive a few hours East and meet Raymond and see the scrapbook he has with the newspaper clippings and photographs of Royel. I'll take some portraits of Raymond and hear the rest of his story.