Bull City Bicycles is a project I’ve been working on for close to a year now. Digging through archives for photographs and history on Durham’s cycling community, I stumbled upon H. Lee Waters.
Waters was a studio photographer from Lexington, NC in the early part of the 20th century. During the Great Depression, he shuttered his studio and hit the road to earn a living. He owned a 16mm film camera and a projector. He traveled to towns (117 in all) throughout NC, SC, VA, and TN; set up his camera; and captured street life on film. He would return home to edit each film, then revisit the town with a final cut. He presented his films in local movie houses, charging admission for townsfolk to see themselves on the silver screen. Footage from his visits to Durham are collected together under the name “H. Lee Waters Durham: 1937 — 1942.”
The Durham Business and Professional Chain produced “Negro Durham Marches On” in 1948. It remains one of the only sources of motion-picture documentation of the Hayti community.
The footage in Bull City Bicycles comes from these two films. A VHS copy of each is available at the Durham County Library. You can read more about H. Lee Waters here.
My film is a work in progress, and I’ll continue to update it (and this site as well) when there is something new to share. I owe some special thanks to the Linda A. Ironside Fund for the Arts Award from Triangle Community Foundation for making it possible for me to continue working on this project.
For now, enjoy the throwback to the ’30s.
Bull City Bicycles by Phillip Barron is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.