Snapshot: Paradise Road, Baytown, Texas

Photo by Eliot Dudik

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Snapshot: Paradise Road, Baytown, Texas

by Eliot Dudik
Southern Cultures, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Documentary Moment)

“And just as I was starting to get frustrated that a picture wasn’t to be found here, I spotted Emanuel and his son Yeddeh in the shaded opening of their garage, engaged in a most intimate and trusting family ritual.”

This little neighborhood in Baytown, Texas, sandwiched between I-10 and the Lynch-burg Canal on the outskirts of Houston, is not exceptional on its surface. This is the initial reaction I often have after driving hundreds of miles and pulling onto one of the many Paradise Roads across the country. There is a feeling of anxiety, even dread, as I try to determine what on that road has the potential to signify a piece of paradise in the United States. I remember feeling this way as I pulled onto this Paradise Road in Bay-town. I drove up and down the road a few times trying to find something that spoke to the American Dream, the United States, and Texas. And just as I was starting to get frustrated that a picture wasn’t to be found here, I spotted Emanuel and his son Yeddeh in the shaded opening of their garage, engaged in a most intimate and trusting family ritual. I stopped and interrupted as politely as I could, explained who I was and what I was trying to do, and asked if they would like to participate. They agreed to move out away from the garage for the sake of light, continuing the haircut on the front lawn where I could set up my 8 × 10 view camera and document this moment.

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