1965 Doc Holds Diploma

1965 Doc Holds Diploma, photo credit unknown.

1965 Doc Holds Diploma, photo credit unknown.

As I hit the road for a three day tour of colleges with my daughter, I can only hope that she applies herself as diligently to her studies. This pic is one he saved to digital from his graduation day from the University of Virginia. There would be more degrees to come.

Hoe Exposed

Hoe Interior Exposed photo by Roy BurkeDoc’s final trusty iron horse  was a Chevy Tahoe named The Hoe. In the years he invested in traveling back roads, he started with an ancient 70s Chevy Vega named Lotus Blossom, which spit oil by the quart and was not optimal for Forest Service roads. In the mid 1980s he intensified the experience with a GMC Jimmy named The Beagle. The Hoe was the apotheosis of Roy’s roadworthy education, with enough space for him to sleep in at campgrounds when he wanted, room to stow all of the critical gear needed for backwoods photography, with enough torque and tread to make it out of the occasional unpaved road too far. This is a representative example of the field-dressed Hoe, gumboots at the ready should wetlands abound.

Seven Flags Speedway, Douglasville GA May 20, 1995

Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Infield 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke

Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Infield 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Pace Lap 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Check In 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Infield 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Rob 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Blur 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Wreck 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags No 33 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke

Doc and I became enamored of NASCAR and small Southern race tracks in the early 1990s. By the time we had ridden that obsession out a decade or so later we had attended big time races at Bristol, Talladega and Rockingham.We also watched Saturday night specials at Tri-County Speedway in Brasstown, NC or the old paved track at Senoia Raceway, south of Atlanta. My media jobs in those years allowed me access far beyond the average ticket-buyer, and Doc often came along as my ‘producer’ and unofficial photographer.

Through an odd confluence of events, for most of a year split between the  1994 and 1995 Southern Dirt Track seasons, I served as  public address announcer for Seven Flags Speedway, a 3/8 mile red clay “bull ring” operating at the lowest reaches of grass-roots motorsports, a past it’s prime motorsports facility, playing out its final seasons before being overwhelmed by the tsumani of suburban Atlanta development. Good old boys who wrenched on old engines all week and then tried to lay it all out on Saturday nights, spinning wet packed red clay into fine orange mist that found every crack and crevice, aerosol clay I would still be washing out of my ears days later. Doc came out a few times, and recorded audio and took photos. He digitally archived the ones above, for which I am grateful. Seven Flags Speedway has long since been replaced by a subdivision, much to the relief of the encroaching suburbs of 1995. “There’s chaos in turn four,” I shouted into the mic. There certainly was. I miss my racing buddy.

Rockbridge County Lexington VA Door June 24, 1986


Rockbridge County Lexington VA Door 6/24/1986 photo by Roy Burke

Roy Burke 1986 Vacation Log extract June 24, 1986: GAS Lexington. Chevron on U.S. 60. 1215 hrs, $11.82, 12.7 gals. 30305.1-30089=216 mi. or, 17 mpg(ugh), 5.47 cents/mi. Oil ok. So, off for a photo walk of Lexington while the weather still holds. Burning bush and care free.

The pic above is of my favorite early Doctor Flowers photos. He created a watercolor version of it that hangs on my wall today. The pic below is Doc’s beloved GMC Jimmy dubbed The Beagle after Charles Darwin’s 10-gun sloop HMS Beagle. It was his faithful companion for a decade of road trips.

Beagle On Curve photo by Roy Burke

Beagle On Curve photo by Roy Burke

Early Roy Burke Wildflower Photos Dawson, Gilmer County Georgia August 27, 1983

Dawson Co GA Kudzu photo by Roy Burke

Dawson Co GA Kudzu photo by Roy Burke


Dawson Co GA Sm Red Morning Glory photo by Roy Burke


Dawson Co GA Ironweed photo by Roy Burke


Dawson Co GA Ironweed photo by Roy Burke


Gilmer Co GA Wild Clematis photo by Roy Burke


Gilmer Co GA Goldenrod photo by Roy Burke


Gilmer Co GA Queen Anne’s Lace photo by Roy Burke


Gilmer Co GA County Road 188 photo by Roy Burke


Gilmer Co GA Bellflower photo by Roy Burke


Gilmer Co GA Jewelweed photo by Roy Burke

Mile 629.1, 1032am May 27, 2009, Grayson County, Virginia

Grayson Co VA Church and Curve. Photo Roy Burke

Grayson Co VA Church and Curve. Photo Roy Burke

No traffic. Beautiful soft gray light. Relaxation and peace are my moment. And the soothing soft hum of the truck. I’m a lucky man. low clouds, wispy mists brush the hill tops. Hard rain, wipers, lights, downhill brakes. Downshift, second gear. Grayson County absolutely magnificent in this weather and spectacular light.-Roy Burke 2009 county road log excerpt

Bell Wringer: A Humbug’s Christmas

Stone Mountain Park, 2013 photo by Roy Burke

Stone Mountain Park, 2013 photo by Roy Burke

Doc loved Christmas in his own way. In 1988, to celebrate his move into his new home and new way of life in Stone Mountain,  he created one of his greatest cassette mix-tapes Bell Wringer:A Humbug’s Christmas(tape #319 in the archive).  You can see his original playlist below. This  Maxell UDXL 90  minutes-worth of his lavishly curated collection of Christmas music runs the gamut from the ridiculous to the sublime, from the canon to Scrooge McDuck.  Clarence Carter’s Back Door Santa? Natch. Harvard Glee Club? Of course. He gave me a copy for Christmas that year, and for the quarter century or so afterwards we regularly set aside a holiday season opportunity to listen to it together at his Stone Mountain home, lights strung across the INSIDE of the house, an obscure college football bowl game soundlessly providing our ‘fireside’ holiday glow as we soaked in the music, sipped some liquor, and talked and laughed about the world at the end of another year.



Daytrip Friends Of Doc Run To Meriwether County, Pine Mountain, Sprewell Bluff November 19 2016. Including A Cosmic Visitation In Lamar County

Lamar County GA Trumpet Honeysuckle March 23 2008

Lamar County GA Trumpet Honeysuckle March 23 2008 Roy Burke photo

Harold and I originally planned an overnight run to the Chattahoochee and Nantahala National Forests to trace some of Doc’s favorite county and Forest Service roads. But severe drought has brought forest fires, so we opted to run south and make a long day of it in Meriwether County, Pine Mountain, and Sprewell Bluff in nearby Upson County. We kept a road log, stopped at a rural church and graveyard, Flint River crossings, ate a road-food lunch beside a covered bridge, and sunned ourselves at FDR’s favorite picnic spot outside of Warm Springs at Dowdell’s Knob. We hiked the Delano trail for an hour, and made our way to Sprewell Bluff along the Flint, just in time to spend the golden hour. I took photos along the way and kept the log book. Harold drove his truck and developed our map strategy. We listened to a lot of Dwight Yoakam and talked of many things.

Just past dark, just past the Lamar County line on our way to dinner at the local meat and three in Barnesville and thence back to the city, on a rural stretch of State Road 36, we saw the brightest greenest closest meteorite either of us had seen in recent memory flash across the night sky like a coda, a cosmic boo-yah, as though Doc had cracked the time-space continuum and hurled a roman candle back  at us, chuckling at our attempt to duplicate his fieldwork.