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Above: This is a scan of one of Tom’s business cards.

Various ephemera from Stefan Hester’s visit.

RECENTLY, I MET PHOTOGRAPHER STEFAN HESTER. During the course of our conversation, he happened to mention that he was recently on a trip (riding his new Stella scooter!) to New Orleans and that he had stumbled onto a religious environment, with “dozens and dozens” of religious signs. At first, I thought he might be referring to W.C. Rice’s religious environment outside Montgomery, Alabama. But he told me that this environment was in Mississippi. I was intrigued—especially when he said he took a bunch of photos.

Stefan had one of those fascinating one-on-one conversations with the owner, a man named Tom, who told Stefan: “you didn’t just stumble upon this place boy... you were sent here and you were sent here for a reason.” Ooooo-kay!

Stefan told me that he was “preached to” for some time until he finally had a chance to speak. His first words were something like: “Sure has been great to meet all these ‘good people’ on his trip.” Tom’s response to that was: “Well-l-l boy… lots a ‘good’ people aren’t saved and you know what happens to sinners.” (gulp!)

Stefan was allowed to take pictures, but not before being asked to sit and have lunch with Tom and his friend. “I insisted that I was not hungry, so they told me I could take the lunch with me,” said Stefan. “He handed me two cans of something called ‘Libby’s Potted Meat Food Product.’ I proceeded to watch them eat the food product with their fingers before I drove off.”

Stefan says he still has the 2 cans of unopened potted meat.