For me, the signs reading NO TRESPASSING are only a suggestion. When the old 1960s Rolleiflex is in my hand, it is almost an invitation to explore the private collections of those I meet along the backroads and two-lane highways of America.
‘A Man Named Neil From Tennessee’
I hadn’t seen a house or a curve in the two-lanes for miles, then I saw the rusty old Fords and Chevys on the roadside getting closer and closer. A man was outside hammering nails to a vintage garage. I had an old Rollei on me and he had time to show me his collection of barn find pickup trucks.
“I just like to drive. I drive an antique every day,” Neil says. “I don’t have a television. I just like to build and get these old trucks back on the road.”
Darwin “Doc” Hunkler, of Indiana, retired sixteen years ago. While some use that time to relax and take on hobbies, Doc got to work on his passion project full-time. Doc’s dioramas are 1/18 scale models, handmade, crafted with immense detail of a time gone.
This is so inviting to me. Some see rust and scrap metal, but I just see stories and history. To see something like this on the side of a road is a welcoming invitiation for my camera and I to pull over and knock on a door.
“This is been up Mt. Washington,” George says. “I have the sticker stuck on the wall saying this vehicle made it up Mt. Washington. I drove everywhere on this bike. This has been to Canada. This has been down to the Keys. This has been all over. I can ride all day on this. To me, it’s all about the ride.”
Even the most hesitant of people I come across are put at ease once they see the vintage camera. Maybe it sparks a memory of their own childhoods or maybe it shows them I too have a love affair with the ingenuity and engineering of a time long gone.