(This article was originally published in 2012)
The first time that I saw Bob Philips on TV, I was immediately taken with his show; a half-hour program showcasing a different, usually small-to-very small location every week. At that time it was called "4-Country Reporter", named after local channel 4 in Dallas, but the "Country Reporter" part is all Bob. I don't remember any specific broadcast, but I do remember how he told the story, and how he used the locals to help him tell that story. He could weave local history, small town charm, and home-made pastry into a smorgasbord of informative entertainment like no one else that I know of. Spinning around from week to week in his big Suburban decked out to look like the Texas flag, he gave us the history of the state, one person, local business, small town, or backwoods creek at a time.
I was maybe sixteen, and most of my attention was on other things like car fumes and perfumes. Fast-forward to 2002, and I'm out on the back roads fumbling with county maps (no Google maps back then) in an effort to get back to my roots of photography and to explore this state that I have lived in for so long but know relatively little about. From that point in time I spent many a weekend traveling around from place to place, seeing more farm-to-market road signs than interstate signs and coming home with a layer of dust on my car an inch thick and a mile wide. But these little adventures kept me happy at a time in my life when happiness was much less abundant for me. They kept me focused on something that helped me stay centered. I learned a lot about Texas, its history and some good-natured people, and how to have a good time on mostly gas money.
Walking in the footsteps of Bob Philips…