The Hideaway Times: Article
Thursday, March 9, 2006
Parks captured Daytona on film
By RAY WEISS | News-Journal Staff Writer
DAYTONA BEACH — Mozella Hooker never saw the cameraman when he snapped her photograph back in 1943.
Gordon Parks caught a moment in 1943 when he photographed people in front of McGill´s Fish Market and Fann´s Lunchroom in the Midway section of Daytona Beach. The streets had been called Pine Street and Second Avenue, and have since been renamed Green Street and Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard.
(Photo: Gordon Parks)
Almost 50 years passed before she spotted herself in the black-and-white shot taken by Gordon Parks in front of a local drugstore. Hooker was attending a Daytona Beach Community College exhibit in 1992, honoring the man who became Life magazine´s first black staff photographer.
“I had never seen the picture before. It was the first time I saw myself,” said Hooker, 83, a Daytona Beach resident. “I was just hanging around the store.”
Parks died Tuesday at age 93, and Hooker feels the loss.
“It´s sad,” she said. “He was a very good man.”
As a photographer for the Office of War Information in 1943, Parks came to Daytona Beach and was a guest of Mary McLeod Bethune, president of Bethune-Cookman College, and documented life in the black community.
He found the racism intolerable.
“The last time I was in Daytona Beach, I thought I would never come back,” he said during his 1992 visit. “Now, how drastic a change. Had this hotel been here then, I wouldn´t have dreamed of putting my foot in it. Now I´m accepted with open arms when I go places in the South.”
At the height of his commercial career, Parks decided to leave Life. He wrote his best-selling autobiography, “The Learning Tree.” He later directed, scored and wrote the screenplay for the film.
Parks went on to direct other films, including “Shaft,” write other books and compose music, including a ballet about Martin Luther King Jr.
“It´s nice to know you´ve done something that lives,” he said in that 1992 interview. “People are capable of doing so many things that they are frightened of trying.”
Parks relished all of life´s challenges.
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