Birney Imes III
June 1, 1995 - July 1, 1995
Birney Imes III
In the late 1940s Blume C. Triplett built for his wife Miss Eppie a roadside restaurant and tavern which they named Whispering Pines. The two operated the place through the ’50s and ’60s, serving the white customers driving up from neighboring Noxubee County and the mostly black clientele living in the surrounding community. Mississippi was segregated at the time, and they built the place with two sides to accommodate both sets of customers. As Eppie’s health began to fail in the mid-’60s, business slowed, and the place became a repository for Blume’s stuff – old cars, pinball machines, jukeboxes, cigar boxes.
I first stumbled upon the Pines not long after I had begun photographing in the mid-70s. By then Eppie had died, the white side had filled with Blume’s relics, and his creation had become hardly more than a neighborhood gathering place. For the next twenty years I visited, ate, drank, and occasionally photographed in and around the place, and over time I too became part of the Whispering Pines.
Blume died in 1991, nursed to the end by Rosie Jane Stevenson, a black woman who had come to work for Miss Eppie as a teenager and who had run the place for him for many years. Today there is not much left of the Pines other than the exterior shell. The contents have been sold, and the doors and most of the windows are boarded over. There is one rear window that still opens, and it is through this portal I now must climb to make my pictures.