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the spotlight


I grew up on 68/80. My parents lived in Bowling Green, Ky., and my grandparents lived in Hopkinsville, only 60 miles away. I would spend that hour car ride pretending I was a great horseback rider, riding as fast as the car was carrying my parents. Or I would just daydream as the farmland would zip by, or as we weaved our way through each of the familiar little towns that made up the path to grandma's house.

When I heard the road would be widened from two lanes to four, I decided to document life along the road I grew up on and the road my mother and father grew up on before me. 68/80 is part of my past and I wanted to remember it. I started taking pictures in 1991. When I moved to Chicago in 1992, I would occasionally go home and drive the road looking for photos of memories before they disappeared -- the widening of the road truly changed its landscape.

Jeanie Adams-Smith

Jeanie Adams-Smith is a photo editor with the Chicago Tribune. She moved to Chicago from Kentucky seven years ago. Since then, she has published a book on the Kane County Cougars, a local minor league baseball team. Jeanie's won several awards for design and photo display and was part of the team that won the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Outstanding Journalism for a series she edited on child murders in Chicago. She's currently spending a year at Ohio University as the 1999-2000 Knight Fellow.

Jeanie is married to a Tribune editor, David Adams-Smith, and has a step-daughter, Alex Smith, and a golden retriever named Sunnie.

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I found my family was quite interested in me pursuing this project. I would occasionally show my dad or grandma a shot from the road that would send them off into a story about a house or a store they remembered.

For Christmas 1998, I gave my father a spiral-bound book of my photos from 68/80. We were both quite emotional as we turned the pages. Many of the places and people I have photographed are no longer there. It is not unusual for childhood places to change as you get older. I'm just glad I have a visual reminder of those car rides to grandma's.

-- Jeanie Adams-Smith