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TJ Ray: Shooting Crosses With Respect

All photos by TJ Ray
All photos by TJ Ray

Dr. TJ Ray is a consummate friend and photo contributor at HottyToddy.com who religiously visits and shares amazing shots of Lafayette County and North Mississippi wildlife with us so that in turn, we may share them with you.

Always humble, Ray likes to let his lens do the talking rather than the other way around. This is admirable, but it sometimes leaves us (me) scrambling around trying to climb into his proverbial mindset to interpret what it was he was feeling and/or seeing through his lens at any given point in a photo shoot. After his submissions, if I can get even a semblance of a grasp of what’s banging around up there (in his noggin’), I feel like it’s been a pretty good day in Jeff-Land.

Obviously, Ray’s photographic expertise isn’t limited only to wildlife (as evident by the following photos as well as a shoot he conducted in Holly Springs at the abandoned and haunting Mississippi Industrial College – published January 19).

All photos by TJ Ray
All photos by TJ Ray

Only Dr. Ray knows what moves him; what inspires him to point and shoot. But, whatever that is, HottyToddy.com and many of you, our followers, are grateful.

The following submissions by Dr. Ray fall into the haunting and humbling category once again (just as the Mississippi Industrial College shots). Actually, these have made me and others pause in silence due to the significance and forethought that went into them. Families out there are suffering – desperate to remember – and we hope the tributes that were erected on our Mississippi highways have brought them a level of peace.

And – the good news – Dr. Ray actually gives his thoughts and respect on this provocative photo shoot below:

A lasting impression from my teaching in Puerto Rico is of roadside crosses where folks died. On some sharp mountain curves, there might be more than a dozen from different wrecks.

In my memory, it was well into the 70s when crosses started appearing beside roads in our state. For many years they proliferated until someone at MDOT made the decision to remove them. Now they can mostly be found on county roads.

These images were taken out of respect for families and friends who go and put up markers for their loved ones, sometimes going back and adding to the memorials.

Taking a few minutes to pull over and photograph a cross is a moving experience. While cemetery markers may be forgotten over time, folks daily see these tokens of love. To some degree they continue to announce that this or that person was among us and is still respected by us.

All of these pictures are from Mississippi roads.

Wow. Just. Wow.

All photos by TJ Ray
All photos by TJ Ray
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All Photos by TJ Ray
All Photos by TJ Ray
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Dr. TJ Ray is a retired professor from the Ole Miss English department. These days, he’s a columnist, Hottytoddy.com contributor and semi-professional photographer shooting all thing Oxford and Lafayette County.

Jeff McVay is a staff writer and graphic designer for Hottytoddy.com. He can be reached at jeff.mcvay@hottytoddy.com.

Follow HottyToddy.com on Instagram and Twitter @hottytoddynews. Like its Facebook page: If You Love Oxford and Ole Miss…

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