Laura Pickett Calfee

January 7, 1999 - January 30, 1999

Gay and Her Grandmother, Empress and Paul Zedler Home

Image © Laura Pickett Calfee

Why We Stay, E.B. And Sidney Pickett Home

Image © Laura Pickett Calfee

Gay and the Angels, Empress and Paul Zedler Home

Image © Laura Pickett Calfee

Laura Pickett Calfee

I grew up in Liberty Texas, one of the oldest towns in the state. It was settled by my forebears seven generations before me. When a friend asked me to photograph her aunt’s home in another small Texas town, the intimacy of looking through their rooms provoked surprising feelings and long-forgotten questions. While the houses I photograph are different in many ways, they are identical in one respect the same families have inhabited them for generations. The more I have explored and photographed these homes, the more I have wondered why this is so. I’m too much Southern to ask, but there are hints in family pictures on the bureau, the baseball trophy gathering dust, the odd juxtaposition of freshly jarred pickles and regional histories of the breakfast room shelf.

One thing is clear: These people are anomalies. Americans, with our pioneering heritage, move frequently and readily yet these people stay in one community, one home for generations. Why do they stay? The answers are so subtle, usually subconscious, and always intimate. They’re tied to place through family, through an identity with the house and the land and the community in a way that transcends others longings. They are people with the resilience to stay in one place –or the wherewithal to return to a place- which has some mysterious draw, a permanency, a foundation. They offer a solid and undeniable link to the fundamental strength of our cultural. They have a sense of faith, a sense of place, in themselves and their communities. While we Americans take collective pride in our zeal to explore, they are proof that this same determination breeds the stamina to stick it out, to make it work. To stay.