I'm happy to report that I mustered up the courage to meet and photograph my first stranger for my Friends and Strangers project. Meet Retha!
Just about every morning on my way to work, I hop off of I-95 at 8th Street to get a sweet tea/half cut from the McDonald's at 8th and Davis (the best run McDonald's in Jacksonville, by the way). And just about every morning, I am greeted by a sweet smile from a sweet lady who I now know is Retha. Retha stands on the corner I-95 and 8th Street selling newspapers for the Florida Times Union. Every morning, I see her smile and wave at everyone waiting at the light. Last Thursday, I rolled down my window, introduced myself, asked her her name and told her about my project. I asked her if I could stop the next day and talk with her for a few minutes and photograph her. She was happy to oblige!
So Friday morning on my way to the shelter, I got off at 8th Street and pulled over in the grass. When she saw me, she smiled, waved and walked over. I think she was a little surprised! We chatted for a while and I learned she has three children, aged 18 to 31, William, Patrice and Santoria. Patrice and Santoria are out of state, but William, the youngest, lives in Callahan so she gets to see him fairly often. She lives not far from where she sells the paper and has been working for the FTU selling papers for nine months. She said business is not great, especially since the cost went up, but she enjoys meeting the people. I'd have to agree with that. She truly is so sweet and that smile just lights up the morning.
After I took a few shots of her, I showed her them in my camera, and she said, "Oh, I look just like my mother!" Well then, Ms. Retha, your mother must have had a lovely smile. It was a pleasure to finally meet you. I'll be bringing Retha some copies of this photo to share with her family this week. Next time you exit at 8th Street, wave to Retha, and buy a paper from her. Even if you don't need one.