Daily Mail picture project frames memories

A column by Charleston Daily Mail staff writer Ashley B. Craig

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — I like to make up stories about strangers.

In my profession that’s a big no-no, but it’s a habit you pick up people-watching. Making up names and stories has become a good pastime while waiting here or there.

The Daily Mail’s Lindsay’s Studio project has caused my already overactive imagination and curiosity to spike.

My co-workers, assistant city editor Billy Wolfe and reporter Matt Murphy, took it upon themselves to photograph, catalog and post to Facebook hundreds of the thousands of pictures left behind at the old Lindsay’s Studio on Charleston’s East End.

When the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority bought the building on Washington Street last fall they surely didn’t expect to find boxes of photographs in one of the defunct businesses.

Lindsay’s, operated by self-taught Kentucky photographer Lindsay Hignite, closed in 2000 after his death.

He had photographed thousands of area residents over the years. There are thousands of baby photos, hundreds of portraits of smiling people, dozens of wedding photos. One of my favorites is of a marching band percussionist with his chinstrap under his nose.

The newsroom hatched a plan to reunite the photos with their subjects or their families via Facebook.

Billy and Matt have been working hard to get the photos online. Billy usually takes photos of the pictures while Matt numbers and organizes them in a spreadsheet. They’ve put up more than 500 images and have managed to find some success.

I’ve helped a bit after deadline. As I take down numbers and describe the images, I can’t help but wonder about the subjects. Why did they have the photos taken? How come they never came for them? Who were they? How did they live?

A black and white photo of five young boys, likely brothers, made me wonder who they grew up to be…

Click here for the surprise ending at charlestondailymail.com.

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