Singles -- Melissa Lyttle

The Newberry Auction House. Newberry, S.C.,
every Saturday night. 7 p.m. till last bid

Deep in the heart of upstate South Carolina an old, wooden barn stands off the side of a dirt road. The paint is peeling and the wood is cracking, and this only seems to add to the appeal. This converted 100-year-old barn usually has its doors wide open for two reasons: to let much-needed light into the otherwise dark building and to hopefully let the breeze flow through, providing air-conditioning where there is none. The open doors are also a welcome sign for all to come inside and enjoy the night.

The barn, known to all as the Newberry Auction House, is full of character and characters. It draws a large crowd of regulars every Saturday night, and some adventurous newcomers as well. Initially, some people are turned off by the lack of air-conditioning, but regardless, it always manages to have a standing-room only crowd at the start of each night.

"I'm not sure what brings people out of the woodwork to come here, but I'm not arguing," comments one of the owners. "Maybe they keep coming because this is one of the only pieces of small-town America left around here."

This is my exploration into community journalism and the lives of some kind souls who were seemingly unfazed as their Saturday night was recorded by a slightly eccentric, young photographer who was in complete and total awe at being let in to this social circle.

Having always been in and around big cities, there is a very odd part of me that feels this strange connection to small towns. This is the part of me that still loves lunch counters, fishing holes and a slower pace than I'm used to. I often find myself drawn toward these small towns when seeking out new and different photographs.  My only rewards other than an occasionally decent photograph are the friendly folks I get to meet along the way and some fond memories locked up tight in my little shaved head.

-- Melissa Lyttle