shoeshine contest

The shoe shine contest.

This photograph posted yesterday to the Instagram account, and my inbox blew up. Here’s the back story.

Back in September 2013, a couple of years before Black Wide-Awake launched, Will Robinson posted this to Wilson County Public Library’s local history and genealogy blog:

I jumped on it:


… which led to an email exchange:

… which led to Will Robinson finding this 23 February 1952 Daily Times article about the event, which took place at Reid Street Community Center:

… which led to this September 2014 WUNC article that includes a dozen contest photos and short video featuring contest winner Curtis Phillips (and my cousin Otis Sherrod talking about his brother Earnest Sherrod, who’s the boy at far left.) 

Wilson County Public Library later exhibited the prints Linda Zimmerman donated, and she graciously extended me the opportunity to purchase a print of the photo posted yesterday. Almost exactly ten years after I first saw John Zimmerman’s work, I’m delighted to these priceless images find a wider audience.