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“Pride in Tobacco”: Roycroft’s Warehouse, 1982
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“Pride in Tobacco”
Roycroft’s Warehouse, 1982

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The old saying “f/8 and be there” applies to these photos. In the early to mid 1980s, I was doing street photography in downtown Durham. Especially compelling was the warehouse district, home of the muscular, oversized tobacco auction warehouses and their supporting businesses. In August 1982, I serendipitously came upon an auction about to begin at Roycroft’s Warehouse on Rigsbee Avenue. The folks in charge graciously let me photograph the event, and these images are the result.

Because Roycroft’s Warehouse closed and was torn down five years later, these photographs document a small slice of the Durham tobacco industry in its waning years. One photo shows “tobacco men” having a cigarette break under a sign that reads “Pride In Tobacco,” a call-back to the sweaty, aromatic “Bull Durham” of old, which existed even as today’s “City of Medicine” was emerging.

These photographs have never been shown, except to friends. [End Page 67]


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John T. Jones

John T. Jones has been a photographer from age twelve, when he received a twin-lens reflex camera as a present. He moved to Durham, North Carolina, in 1967 to attend Duke University. By the 1980s, he was working in street photography with a documentary edge, had several one-person shows, and had photographs selected for regional traveling exhibitions and publications. Now retired, he lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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