Friday, July 8, 2011

Cairo, Illinois

Joan and I stopped and photographed in Cairo Illinois twice this past June. The last time I was in Cairo, eight to ten years ago, there was a lot more standing. The buildings seem to be falling in at an accelerated rate. Having attended elementary school in the Chicago Public Schools, we were taught Chicago history and some facts about Illinois, but little to nothing was presented about the land south of Springfield. After living and traveling around the South for the past twenty-eight years, this town feels much more “Southern” to me than many old towns in the Deep South. Once an important port city this place is fascinating but doesn’t look like it will be standing much longer.

All Photographs by Joan Bertolaet.


Stopped in on Emma in West Lafayette only to find that she was struck down by the PhD gods. It’s been said that a #3 is a lot worse.


While searching though antique shops on a recent trip to the mid-west, I ran across a number of old Bob-Lo Island postcards. When I was eleven years old we moved from Chicago to Ann Arbor, Michigan. It seemed that TV and radio ads for Bob-Lo ran continuously that first summer and fall that we lived in Ann Arbor. As the years passed the ads became fewer. Whenever our family went to an amusement park my parents opted for Cedar Point in Ohio. We never made it to Bob-Lo, but at the time, we didn't care.
One of my first successful photographs was of the Bob-Lo boat Columbia wintering on the Detroit River in 1972. I made it on a day I decided to skip school and search for photos, the norm for me during my senior year in high school. At the time I had no idea of the history of the boat and its island destination, I just thought it looked cool. Now that I know the history of the place I wished I had bugged my parents to go there.