After the success of that book, he then worked with area leaders on an idea of a second book, but this time he would recruit other area photographers and create a "Weekend in the Life of Venango County" style book.
I told him I wasn't very familiar with Venango County, but I love the idea. He said he thought most of the photographers he had in mind were more familiar with the southern part of the county and he didn't have anyone to really explore the areas up north that skirt the edges of Crawford County.
I got to thinking about Charles Kuralt hitting the road in his motorhome in search of stories and though I was a tad scared, I went for it.
I even took the weekend off from work so I could.
I went to church.
Now before I explain much more about my approach, Jerry and I talked months later and the idea for this book, according to the people he was talking to, was more of a scenic coffee table style pretty picture book.
Haha. I don't do that.
To me, planet earth is a beautiful place to live, but it is people who we, as journalists, communicate with and tell stories about. So my approach was people oriented.
So at this church I talked my way into their service and was welcomed. I told them about the project and they seemed excited to be included.
I tried to be a fly on the sanctuary wall and just observe.
Suddenly as the preacher, Glen Van Cise, asked people to pray for those who received some bad news I watched several hands reach out and touch Marylin Bossard as she broke down in tears.
She had been given bad news just a few days prior about an aggressive cancer that was attacking her.
Sadly, it was only a few weeks later that she passed away. I felt honored that this might be in the book.
As I watched others around the church, I made a few more photos. A grandfather holding a grandchild asleep during the service, a teacher playing with a youngster over the pew and more snoozing. I was able to even stay for a prayer study and bible school.
How these men survived that war and thrived after will always be amazing.
The whole weekend I just drove around and if something seemed interesting I stopped and introduced myself and told about the project.
I had a few 'get losts' and 'not interested' folks, but the ones who were interested were interesting.
I met Dallas Bean who was an owner of Rolling Springs farm and used to be a champion horse puller. I got to spend a few hours on their farm and witness some of their hard work.
A farm is not an easy thing to maintain. This was a multi-generational dairy farm that took a whole family to maintain.
They were working on generations of cows as well and the prize milkers then were also bringing the next batch into the world.
I also had never seen so many cats and got a huge kick out of how they seemed to leave the barn with the cows.
I commented to Dallas, who was driving the cows to the pasture that he was also a cat herder.
He admitted there was no herding cats but mentioned how important they were to keeping the rodent population down.
I enjoyed spending time on the farm. It made me think of my brother Russ and his stinky boots.
Buck and Grace Kelley had been divorced for 15 years at this point. Grace had knee replacement surgery and required some help. She insisted she is a "do it myself kind of gal," but her mobility was not so hot.
I thought it was quite nice that her ex-husband was still so willing to help her and then I learned it was his parents grave she wanted to clean up around. But the oddest part came next, even though they were divorced, they still shared their house.
This story gave me a sense of hope in the human race.
And they were funny as hell.
Anyone who knows anybody in these photos please let them know. I was sad that the project never came to fruition, but this project really helped me grow and step out of my comfort zone. Thank you Jerry Sowden for this..... perhaps we can try again someday for a book?