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A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys
One gray night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.
Peter Yarrow

Eighteen summers had come and gone in my life, all more or less the same. Horses, heat, and humidity in the deep south. My golden palomino and I galloped across galaxies, tamed the wild west, and rescued damsels in distress. I thought the world was a pretty hip place as a kid, and life rolled lazily along, season after season, like a fairy tale.

But the summer of '67, my nineteenth, was something else, the end of innocence and a new beginning, as I would realize only years later. Months earlier I had changed my major at LSU from engineering to pre-med. As long as I could remember I had planned to be an engineer, like my father. The switch was dramatic, even careless. I had no clue what was happening. At the same time my lifelong passion for horses was fading into a fond memory. I felt like Jackie Paper, bidding farewell to his magic dragon in that "sixties" coming of age ballad. So as the seasons turned 19, I began to ask questions. The answers came hard.

Reeling from all the confusion, I left home in June, alone, on an odyssey to places I'd never been before. In the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee I wandered the hills in search of answers. And one day, amid all the confusion, in that sea of rocky tops, I gained the high ground, hoisted a camera for the very first time and snapped a photograph. And from that moment on things would be different. In the summer of '67, a physician-photographer was born.


© Danny Kimberlin 2016