Weeki Wachee Mermaids

In 1946, Newton Perry, a former U.S. Navy man who trained Navy Frogmen to swim underwater in World War II, scouted out Weeki Wachee as a good site for a new business. At the time, U.S. 19 was a small two-lane road. All the other roads were dirt; there were no gas stations, no groceries, and no movie theaters. More alligators and black bears lived in the area than humans.

Sadly, the spring was full of old rusted refrigerators and abandoned cars. The junk was cleared and Newt experimented with underwater breathing hoses and invented a method of breathing underwater from a free-flowing air hose supplying oxygen from an air compressor, rather than from a tank strapped to the back. With the air hose, humans could give the appearance of thriving twenty feet underwater with no breathing apparatus.

Submerged six feet below the water’s surface, an 18-seat theater was built into the limestone so viewers could look right into the natural beauty of the ancient spring.

Newt scouted out pretty girls and trained them to swim with air hoses and smile at the same time. He taught them to drink Grapette, a non-carbonated beverage, eat bananas underwater and do aquatic ballets. He then put a sign out on U.S. 19 that read: WEEKI WACHEE. And on October 13, 1947, the first show at the Weeki Wachee Springs underwater theater opened. It was the same day that Kukla, Fran and Ollie first aired on that newfangled invention called television, and one day before Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. On that day, the mermaids performed synchronized ballet moves underwater while breathing through the air hoses hidden in the scenery.

However, in those days, cars were few along U.S. 19. When the girls heard a car coming, they ran to the road in their bathing suits to beckon drivers into the parking lot, just like sirens of ancient lore lured sailors to their sides. Then they jumped into the spring to perform.

For more photos, check out our Patreon.

National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel

Posting photos from the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel today, on Martin Luther King Day, seems like an obvious choice on our part. The National Civil Rights Museum is a living memorial to the work of Martin Luther King, housed at the Lorraine Motel where his life was cut short. But, to be truthful, we’re posting these images almost six weeks after visiting the museum because it took us that long to return to them. It was easy to edit and share whimsical images from our time in Memphis; the museum held a much greater weight.The museum was painful; our trip was filled with silent hours of reflecting, learning, questioning, and mourning. Each exhibit offered new and expanded insights into the battles that have been waged for equality, and the very real ways that voices in power keep marginalized voices on the sidelines. For two photographers who have centered a year of travel around the idea of listening to voices that are constantly quieted, there was a sense of urgency in every corner of the Lorraine. The photos we took are filled with our own hopes, but they are muted by the realities of our country. We saw a history of violence at the Lorraine; from the slave trade up until, and through, our present America. There was too much here to try to summarize, but it is our hope that these photos offer a glimpse into this powerful space.”Slavery. Separate but equal. Boycotts. Assassinations. Black power. This is the history of the uprising that pushed national and international civil rights forward.”

Visit our Patreon for more photos.

International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum

It all started more than 20 years ago when a group of dedicated towing professionals, the Friends of Towing, decided to recognize outstanding individuals in the towing and recovery industry worldwide, record the industry’s history, collect and display artifacts and memorabilia in a museum setting, and provide information about the industry to the public. The first Hall of Fame class consisted of 27 members and today has grown to include over 300 distinguished towing professionals.

In its humble beginnings, the Friends of Towing displayed the Hall of Fame and Museum in a semi-trailer and drove it to and from towing and recovery industry trade shows across the country. In 1995 when it came time to settle down in one permanent location, the organization decided on the scenic city of Chattanooga, TN. Chattanooga had been credited as the birthplace of the tow truck thanks to inventor Ernest Holmes Sr. Holmes and his son Ernest Holmes Jr. would go on to establish a major towing manufacturer named the Ernest Holmes Company. Today, the museum has evolved from the humble Friends of Towing into the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Tow Truck and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum, Chatanooga, TN. November, 2017. For more photos visit our Patreon!

Epiphany in Tarpon Springs, Florida

With the largest Greek population outside of Greece, the Greek Orthodox tradition of Epiphany in Tarpon Springs is done by the books. Before heading out, we weren’t sure what to expect. [Insert obvious “it’s all Greek to me!” joke.]

The ceremony, as we understood it, involved a morning-long church ceremony, a procession, a blessing of a wooden cross, and a crew of young men who dive into the water to retrieve the cross. (In the 40-degree weather of a chilly January morning, this is no small feat.) Finding the cross is not only good luck for the diver and their family but the whole of the town.

What we found was a part religious ceremony, part athletic event, part campaign rally for Antonio Sabato, Jr (?), and a huge community-wide celebration.

Tarpon Springs, Florida. January 6, 2018.

See all of the photos (we’ve got some great ones!) over here!

Using Format