50 Strangers #12

We weren't 50 yards from our hotel when the rain started "we'll go back and wait it out" I told DeeDee . We had the pleasure of being visited by Ashley , DeeDee's daughter . our plans included working on the 50 Strangers project , seeing the sights and mixing in as much fun as we could stand . The rain continued . WIth undaunted enthusiasm we made a break for it , the rain continued but now at a rate we thought would be bearable , onward . Six blocks were covered when our advisory arrived again , we ducked into Jen's Martini Bar . How convenient right ? With Jen's help we smiled as we made another move this time to Johnson Square just 3 blocks away passing one soaked group of tourists after another . Crossing Broughton Street we passed Jim who mans that corner in his wheelchair like a sentry . With his long grey beard and toothless smile he has somehow managed to stay dry a miracle in itself , I've never seen him beg but he's quick to accept offerings after that friendly hello and smile that he flashes . Between Jim and Johnson Square sits the old barber shop now closed for the day , a real classic barbers pole in front . Peek through the window reveals one side for hair and another for shoe shines . Right out of a Norman Rockwell painting , I dream of somehow getting the privilege of photographing in there one day . Johnson Square is empty .

      Rain dripped from the live oaks and if the Spanish moss enjoys water every hanging strand was in heaven . I squinted and looked down the avenue to the golden domed courthouse . Damn if I know what this squinting does but if I'm doing it there's something visual churning up in my mind . "Lets set up babe" I said , that statement to my wife was returned with one of those "you surely have lost your mind looks" I know the look cause I get them all the time . Camera, flashes , umbrella holder all go together , I see my background , I see THE shot . All we need is a volunteer . Then the rain came again .  

      Scrambling to protect everything and pack it away , we were chased by another downpour . Our pace quickened , our hopes were dampened , as our bodies got soaked . We hugged close to the buildings , went under every awning , trying to stay dry to no avail . Another doorway found a middle aged black man and he wasn't shy to say " Happy hour buy one , the seconds a dollar" . Well that's all it took , we entered .I folded my wet umbrella and Ashley offered her's to the man outside , not wanting him to have to work out in this rain .  In a town that prides itself on it's consumption this bar could hold 200 , today there were four and now with the three of us that totaled seven all sitting at the bar . 

      Before we got onto our bar stools we were greeted by Warren the bartender , we ordered about as quickly as he asked . Warren was moving fast as if we would see a few hundred more arrive at any second . Stocking beers , cutting fruit he kept his preparation going stopping frequently to ask "ya'll doing O.K" . I caught his blue eyes and then squinted  around the room . Again I said "lets set up" and again My wife gave me "the look " .  Ashley leaned over and grinned "I have a bit of a problem" "What's up" I replied "well that guy with my umbrella at the door just asked me for money to eat" she said sheepishly . "You mean he doesn't work here ?" my instant response . With a smile on her face unique to Ashley , she shook her head side to side , "nope"  . Now we needed to retrieve the hotel's umbrella from the homeless man who thought he just got the best of rainy day gifts , I tell you the fun never stops . 

Warren was so sweet and excited about the prospect of being photographed , but this would be a bit frantic . Because of his pace even I was starting to believe that at any moment throngs would bust down the door . "Sit on this stool we'll try this first " I said trying to take control ,  Warren said "I'll be right back , sorry" . Minutes later we started again only to have Warren leave to get something else done . Back again I took a few more shots and that was that . I really liked this guy , up front , forthcoming with his history , lived in seattle , the army , life . We learned so much so fast ,I'd like to stop and visit some more . But for now hello Warren , I'm Bob Gala photographer and it's been my pleasure to meet you