By Margaret Perry
I decided to take this class on documenting the southern landscape to learn more about Durham explore an aspect of the culture in the south. My dad grew up in North Carolina and much of my family is still around the state. As a result, I have spent many of my holidays, vacations, and summers in the south. I have always felt a sense of understanding and appreciation for southern culture, but it occurred to me when I began this class, that I have seen the same aspects of the south over and over again throughout my life. I have been returning to the same towns, going to the same local stores, and eating at the same barbeque restaurants. This project has given me an opportunity to step out of that cycle and see a new aspect of the south.
My first few ideas for my topic fell through so one day, I got in my car and began driving around town looking for inspiration. I found myself sitting at a traffic light on Trinity Avenue watching people hang out in the parking lot of a closed run-down gas station. I realized that the station had been turned into a restaurant and by the time the light changed, I had made the decision to investigate further.
Soon I met the owner, Mr. Wilson, as well as his family and friends that work and hang out in the restaurant. He told me all about the history of his business and his plans for the future. He was eager and willing for his restaurant to be the topic of my project. Since then, I have spent hours in the restaurant, taking pictures, eating delicious meals, and getting to know the employees and costumers.
Over the course of this project I gained an appreciation not only for the southern food, but also for the amount of work that goes into running a family owned business. Mr. Wilson and his employees take pride in their food and put in an incredible amount of effort to keep business running smoothly. I have seen how hard they work at 4:00 in the morning cooking for a large catering event. I have also been there in the afternoon, when someone has to run to the grocery store when they run out of an ingredient.
Everyone contributes in one way or another to the community of the restaurant and that is what I try to portray in my work. The relationships that exist there are unique and I have come to recognize the power of southern food to bring people together and foster relationships.