Thursday, December 22, 2005


A recent conversation at a holiday gathering with a friend, who is a photographer and a guy I played sports with in the day, involved old friends no longer in the game. That brought up Savannah's Jack Leigh, a co-worker in my stint as the manager at the Biograph Theater. Decades later Leigh shot the "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" graveyard picture that was on the cover of the book.

From the Biograph Archives, here's an excerpt of a short piece on Leigh and a link to his gallery, where you can look at some of his lush photographs of the South:

"Jack Leigh, who died last year, was part of the Biograph’s staff in the late-1973/early-1974. He was earnest and quick-witted. Jack liked to play chess and talk about movies, and of course -- photography. In those days he was already a very good photographer. The quiet style he would use throughout his career was already evident. He authored six books of photographs, including Oystering, which featured a foreward by James Dickey.

Leigh introduced me to Half-Rubber, a three-man baseball-like game that he said orginated in his hometown, Savannah. It was played with a broom handle and half of a red rubber ball. At the time there were several vacant lots across from the theater, so one afternoon I crossed Grace Street with Jack and assistant manager Bernie Hall to try Half-Rubber.

The key to pitching was to throw the ball side-arm with the flat part down to make it curve and soar somewhat like a Frisbee. Hitting or catching it was quite another matter. The pitcher threw the half-ball in the general direction of the batter, who tried to hit it. If he missed, and he usually did, the catcher did his best to catch it, which wasn't easy either. When the catcher did catch it, if the batter had swung he was out. Then the pitcher moved to the catching position, and the catcher became the batter, and so forth.

But the best reason to play -- other than the laughs stemming from how foolish we looked -- was the kick that came from hitting it. When we connected with that little red devil it left the bat like a rocket.

Click here to visit Leigh's gallery.

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