Every Town Needs a Photographer
By: Thelma Sims

I was nine years old and child number four when our family--H. Y. Lawrence, his wife Lizzie, and seven children--came to Royalton in the summer of 1919. Dad went to work in the North mine to support our growing family. Royalton was a growing mining town with a population of people of different cultures trom Europe and those like us who came trom Tennessee and Kentucky. We learned to mix and mingle.

When we first moved to town, we lived in one of the two houses in the field behind Kozer's store; it was
probably the south end of what we call New Camp. In about 1920, Dad met a Mr. Edmonds who had a
photography business on Main Street in what he called a Studio Wagon. It was on wheels and moveable. We were homesick and wanted to sell out and go back home. Dad bought the Studio and moved it across the street by the dry cleaning shop just about where the telephone building is now.

My dad had been interested in photography since he was a teenager. He had a special knowledge of chemicals, and he mixed his own, which he ordered trom W. B. Schiller Company in St. Louis. I can remember hating the smell of the chemicals, the miracle of the finished postcards ($1.50 per dozen). Dad soon had a thriving business and was especially happy with the many Catholic weddings that brought him badly needed extra money.

In 1921, Dad bought a house on Royal Street and built his Studio onto the front of it. He painted the new building yellow to cover the old, ugly barn "red". The whole east wall was a canvas scenic painting which Dad called a background for the studio pictures. The front room was a waiting room for customers. Facing the street was a picture window that was even with the sidewalk. You couldn't miss it if you wanted to, which no one did, as there were pictures of townspeople and events on display.

I admired my Dad for his many skills, but most of all for his photography studio. I suppose every home in town has a sample of Dad's work, which lasted a good twenty-five years. A quarter of a century! WOW!

Thelma Sims


(Above Information Taken From The 1995 Royalton Round-Up Booklet.)