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Retired educator Pat Hutson's travel photography featured at library

Photo by Curt Yeomans
The Clayton County Library System’s Headquarters Branch is featuring a display this month of travel photography, taken by retired Clayton County educator Pat Hutson.

Photo by Curt Yeomans The Clayton County Library System’s Headquarters Branch is featuring a display this month of travel photography, taken by retired Clayton County educator Pat Hutson.

Morrow resident Pat Hutson prefers places in the world that are a little “off the beaten path.”

Hutson, a retired Morrow High School teacher, has been to five of the Earth’s seven continents. “I’ve lost count of how many countries I’ve been to,” she said. “I’ll put it this way, though. I haven’t been to Antarctica, and I haven’t been to Australia yet.”

She said she likes going to unusual places. Hutson explained that she has seen churches carved into cliff sides in Ethiopia, and visited a tribe in Myanmar (also known as Burma) where the people stretch their necks using gold rings.

Photographs from her travels reveal that she has also seen lions hiding under the shade of a tree in Namibia, and visited small towns in Mexico and Guatemala.

“I’ve always enjoyed going to different places,” Hutson said. “But, I’m not drawn to extremely modern city environments. I can find that right here [in the Atlanta area].”

Twenty-one photographs that Hutson has taken on her travels are on display through the end of this month at the Clayton County Library System’s Headquarters Branch, at 865 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro. “Novel Destinations” is the theme of the display. It was also the theme of this year’s adult summer reading program, “so she tried to tie into that,” said headquarters branch Managing Librarian Sherry Turner.

Turner said that she has featured items belonging to Hutson in the library’s monthly display area several times in the past. She explained that she and Hutson had talked in the past about the retired educator’s travels, and the library decided to offer her a display spot again, in order to have a display that tied into the summer reading program’s theme.

“It’s taking you to different places, and new places,” Turner said. “She’s a little off the beaten path. Unlike many travelers, she chooses to go where the people live, instead of the touristy places ... Her photos were just perfect for the theme of different destinations.”

The photographs show a wide variety of locales from around the world, from Machu Pichu (in Peru), to the Sossusvlei Dunes (in Namibia), and from Angkor Wats (in Cambodia), to the Golden Rock (in Myanmar), Lalibela (in Ethiopia), Antelope Canyon (in Arizona), and several small, Central American villages.

As Morrow resident Pat Laycock examined a photograph of a stone carving in the Nemrut Dagi, in Turkey, last Thursday, she remarked to other library patrons standing near her that the stone looked like a headstone from a grave. “This must be a grave marker,” she said. “Do you see all of the markings on it?”

One photograph shows tribesmen in Kenya draining blood from a cow’s neck, while another shows the face of a statue in a temple in Bangkok. There is also a traditional, ceremonial dance mask, from Bali, on display in the exhibit.

“I think it’s just fantastic,” said Forest Park resident Joann Poston, of the display, as she examined each of the photographs in detail. “It’s very, very similar to National Geographic [images],” she added.

Hutson said her goal, in compiling materials for the display at the library was “to find stuff that was unusual, or semi-unusual.” Ethiopia’s Lalibela region, for example, is were the churches are carved into the rocky cliff sides. “They have a lot of people who come to Lalibela as a pilgrimage center,” she said. “Some of them will walk down these long roads to get there.”

She included a photograph of a woman and a child from the Long-Neck Karen tribe, which lives in an out-of-the-way spot in eastern Myanmar, as well. In the photograph, both the woman and the child are wearing gold rings around their necks that are causing their necks to become elongated. Hutson said it is a custom that is falling out of favor in that area.

“Those neck rings are really heavy,” she said. “What they do is push the collarbone down. They can never live without wearing them, because their necks are no longer capable of supporting the weight of their heads, due to their collar bone being pushed so far down.”

The retired educator said she did a lot of her overseas traveling while she was doing teaching work for the military in Germany, and Bahrain (after she retired from Clayton County schools). While she was in Germany, she said, she traveled to virtually every country in Europe. During her stay in Bahrain, she said she traveled to several places, such as Iran, Oman, the Arab Emirates, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Myanmar.

She said she has also camped out in five countries across the southern half of Africa, while also doing some boating on the Zambezi River, at the border between Namibia and Zambia.

Travel is “in my blood,” Hutson said.

The country she really wants to see next, she said, is Borneo, in Southeast Asia. “Borneo and Sumatra [which is also in Southeast Asia] are where the orangutan’s live,” she said. “I really want to see them in their natural environment.”