Hey There, Georgia Girl

Georgia Girl Drive-In, Woodbine, GA

My parents didn’t live in Georgia for long. In fact, if truth be known, it was the shortest time I’ve ever lived anywhere in my life. Back in the early 70s, my father got a teaching job in the Brunswick area and we lived in a duplex on Jekyll Island. The job, and the beach home, lasted less than a year, and even though I was younger than three years old, I still remember the day we drove off, leaving the enormous bridge to Brunswick behind.

As an adult, I lived in Georgia for about five years, just across the border from Tennessee. I still have my old Georgia license plate to prove it. Nowadays I only seem to pass through there on my way to Florida.

In 2013, when coming back from Florida, and we made our mad dash to Wright’s Dairy-Rite in Virginia, there was a little part of the story I left out. I fully intended to make a stop at the Georgia Girl Drive-In in Woodbine, Georgia, but I realized that time would not allow us to stop at Bar-B-Q King in Charlotte for lunch, and hit Wright’s in Staunton in time for neon magic hour. So, with much trepidation I put it off.

Much trepidation because I knew the old place was abandoned, and that any day now someone would get the idea to take the sign down. Or, judging by its age, it might fall down on its own. So I made every intention of hitting this up on our way down to Florida last October.

The sun was out and shining bright. Since the Georgia Girl had long since closed, Google Maps were useless, so I was counting on reports of others as to its actual location. Fortunately the directions were not too hard, and there it was, still standing.

Georgia Girl Drive-In, Woodbine, GA

Standing, but just barely. The abandoned car added to the ambience. Fortunately, this was right on US 17, so I wasn’t too worried about carrying forth with my photography plans. The difficulty was pretty obvious from the start: the sun had bleached the side of the sign with full sun on it. The other side was vibrant, but I would have to crawl through the weeds to get that shot.

Flashback: the Temple Drive-In in Williamstown, PA. First time I took shots of that, I came down with dozens of chigger bites. Eight-to-five said there were chiggers in them thar hills. I decided discretion was the better part of valor and stuck to taking shots from the sunny side.

Georgia Girl Drive-In, Woodbine, GA
Georgia Girl Drive-In, Woodbine, GA

And all of this was good, and showed off the rustiness and dustiness, but I knew what the other side looked like and I knew that was a better shot. I waited for the sun to go away, attached my longest lens, and walked down the sidewalk a bit to see if there was anything I could do. It wasn’t the easiest shot, because of green trailer standing in the way. I had to put the K-5 into live mode and held it above my head as high as my arms could reach. Several tries ended in miserable, blurry failure, but in the end…

Georgia Girl Drive-In, Woodbine, GA

We drove off, having been honked at only once, and made our way for Florida and vacation, but we were so glad we could get this little piece of history.

And here’s where it is!

Wildwood, Part 3

Stardust Motel, Wildwood, NJStardust Motel, Wildwood, NJ

For part 1, click here

For part 2, click here

Due to the construction in Wildwood last October, we found ourselves diving down streets that we probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. We ended up on Spicer Avenue, which held a few more motels of the golden era. Remembering back to the research I had done, I knew the Stardust Motel was there (see the shot above) so I went after it. But on the way there, I saw a neon palm tree that needed to be photographed. I was just the guy to do it.

Mango Motel, Wildwood, NJ

As I stepped out to get this shot, somebody pulled out of the parking lot behind me. The driver was, at first glance, Jersey through and through, and for those of you who don’t know New Jersey, this could be either a good thing or a bad thing. Either I was going to get the chewing out of a lifetime or I was going to get a too-hard slap on the back and invitation to the nearest beer. I got the obvious question about what I was doing. He didn’t ask me what I thought I was doing, so I took that as a good sign. No pun intended.

Turns out, this was the owner of the Mango Motel. And further, the sign had just been restored, and he was obviously very proud of it. He had spotted me taking shots with my iPhone, so I let him know about my Instagram account.

Mango Motel, Wildwood, NJ

In my experience, it’s rare that I get a chance to interact with the owner of a business whose sign I’ve singled out, and rarer still that I get any appreciation for it. I’ve been chased off rudely at least twice, and more often than not, when I explain what I’m doing, the owner turns around and goes back in the building shaking his head. But every once in a while you find someone who is proud of their sign, and more than willing to show it off. In light of this, I honestly wish I had taken more shots at the Mango Motel other than the ten or so I did.

But Wildwood is endless supply of neon, and it was getting late in the day. Honestly, I was exhausted before Wildwood was, but I continued to snap away.

Caribbean Motel, Wildwood, NJ

The Caribbean, which was one of the better-attended motels in Wildwood that Sunday in October, has one of the best signs going, although it’s a little difficult to get, as it sits atop a lovely 50s style deck. It’s right across the street from the Bel Air, which just had its sign restored as well.

Bel Air Motel, Wildwood, NJ

One of my favorites was the LuFran, which was slightly in need of a new coat of paint. My regret is that I got there too late, and the shadows were not in my favor. Still, I managed to get a long shot to zoom in on some great details.

lu-fran

To tell the truth, this is not all. I still have a bunch of shots from other locations that I’ll share later on. Another regret is that my time was limited, and I was not able to stay long enough to get these wonders while they were lit. To be fair, this was more of a fact-finding mission. Rest assured I’m going back there, if all goes well during the Spring, so stay tuned!