Kilgore: Visions of Forgotten StreetsCaleb Pirtle III
Visions of Forgotten Streets is a heavily illustrated volume with more than 700 historical images that portray the character of those who pioneered the discovery of the East Texas oilfield. The photographs capture the rich landscape, the changing face of the towns, and the characters who wandered into the field from parts unknown, sometimes just stayed until they drew their next paycheck, and moved on. There were roughnecks, muleskinners, rig builders, scalawags, oil scouts and speculators, big shots and hoboes, scam artists, hot oilers, and pajama ladies.
The barren years had become the bountiful years. Yet, the memories have begun to dim and fade as yesterdays do when the splintered fragments of time and circumstance drop a veiled curtain across the deeds and the glories, the gambles, and the revelations of the past.
Only the photographs remain. So many of the names of those who came, who stayed, and who passed on through have been erased.
But their images remain strong and vibrant, even in the grainy, scratched portraits of black and white snapshots and postcards, the artistry of professionals who understood light and composition in a great historical perspective, the memories of amateurs who merely tucked away family keepsakes and passed them down through generations.
In reality, the great historians of East Texas were the photographers who walked the streets and wandered the oilfields, capturing those single moments of time that, when pieced together, chronicled the city’s bold march from poverty to prosperity.
Without them all, the visions would have been lost.
The stories could be told but never seen.
Passing generations may have heard rumors of the history, but photographs put them on the streets in the oil patch, walking alongside those whose lives and fortunes were changed in a single word: oil.
Photographs make them witness to history.
Photographs put faces with names.
In photographs, the young never grow old.
Ambitions never die.
Time never passes.
The great photographers who found their way to Kilgore and the East Texas field never considered themselves to be artists or historians.
They were merely trying to earn a dollar.
They left behind a treasure.
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