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