Photo Contest Captures Visions Of Payson's Past

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Jean Clarke's award-winning photo of Main Street during the 1918 rodeo is a family heirloom.

The old sepia print, which took Best of Show at the recent historical photo competition "An Eye to the Rim," depicts a row of Model As and other vintage autos lined up on a dusty Main Street. In the background a group of cowboys are gathered in the road, perhaps watching a rodeo event.

"My maiden name was Pyeatt, and my great grandfather came here when Payson was just getting started," Clarke, now a Strawberry resident, said. "My father was born here and had a ranch down by Doll Baby."

Her father, Andrew Pyeatt, competed in the rodeo when it was "over by the cemetery."

For her prize-winning photo, Clarke received gift certificates from Payson Jewelers and The Wild Brush.

The old photo competition, co-sponsored by the Northern Gila County Historical Society, the Historic Preservation-Conservation Commission and Eastern Arizona College-Payson, attracted fewer entries than hoped for. But its organizers are calling it a big success nonetheless.

"People were hesitant this first time because they weren't sure how it would be handled," Sharesse von Strauss, director of the historical society, said. "These photos are their memories and their families, and they are held very close to their hearts. When people came in and saw how considerate both they and their collections were treated, they said they would go back and dig out more photos."

Contributed photos were scanned by computer and immediately returned to their owners along with a complimentary extra copy.

EAC-Payson instructor Fran McPeek's Art 185 class did the reproductions. Students in the advanced computer graphics course used the computer program Adobe Photoshop to enhance the photographs.

"They even cleaned up some photos, took out some cracks and creases," said von Strauss. "They made this project possible."

As a result of this first event, von Strauss says several pioneer families, including the Randalls and the Clines, are bringing in their entire photo collections.

Other winners include:

The Pioneer Bar, submitted by Odette Fulton An interior shot of the bar taken about 1940 or '41, the photo depicts owner Ogden Holder behind the bar, with his wife, Liz Holder; Fulton's mother, May Emmet; and John Hughes standing at the bar. "Hughes," Fulton recalled, "was an old rock mason. He did a lot of the headstones in the cemetery."

Cliff "Tailspin" Edwards with a vintage aircraft, submitted by Cecil Sims The colorful Edwards, for whom Edwards Air Force Base is named, was a stunt pilot who also trained World War I fighter pilots. In the photo, taken about 1930, he poses with one of his wives in front of a biplane he landed in a field at Pyeatt Ranch.

1956-57 JRE First Grade Class, submitted by Jami Myers Included in the class, posed in front of the Rock Building with teacher Julia Randall herself, is Myers mother, Karen Wilkins. She's the one in pigtails at the far right in the middle row.

The winning entries and vintage photos contributed by the U.S. Forest Service are on display in the community room at EAC-Payson.

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