H. Lee Waters: Accidental Historian leaves lasting legacy

“It was his life” Accidental historian leaves lasting legacy for his beloved town By Ryan Jones

Herbert Lee Waters never worked a day in his life. At least that’s what his family and those who knew him best would say about the beloved studio photographer, filmmaker, and documentarian who spent endless hours capturing both the average and the extraordinary in Lexington and beyond.

A brand new exhibit at the Davidson County Historical Museum in the Old Court House celebrates the life and still photography of Waters, who worked for more than half a century from the Main Street studio he purchased from J.J. Hitchcock in 1926. Alongside a variety of artifacts pulled from the studio and donated by family members, the exhibit features a collection of around 40 black and white images carefully curated from the hundreds of prints and negatives kept in storage for close to 20 years.

The prints, remastered from original negatives by Snow Photo in High Point, are organized for display into four distinct sections. Each one demonstrates Waters’ frequent habit of breaking free from portraiture to venture into the streets, recording the period landscape and daily activities of average citizens.

“Mr. Waters was a curious, energetic person. He did a lot of enterprise work. If something interested him he went out to see it,” said Catherine Hoffman, curator of the Davidson County Historical Museum. Before his death in 1997, she established a relationship with Waters and began the long process of cataloging the massive body of work he would eventually leave behind. Over the years, pieces of Waters’ work have been used to bolster other exhibits at the museum, but this is the first time an exhibit has been dedicated solely to his legacy.

“The hardest thing was deciding what to print,” Hoffman said. She noted that an online component to the exhibit will expand upon the physical display and allow the public to dig deeper into Waters’ work. The selection of photos at the museum itself may also rotate.

The “Uptown Lexington” section features scenes of bustling, early-to-mid-century small town life against a backdrop of bygone businesses like the Belk Martin Company, the Carolina theater, People’s Drug Store, and Raylass Department Store.

“Uptown was his neighborhood (and) he captured that vitality,” said Hoffman.  She believes visitors will especially enjoy comparing the way Uptown’s buildings looked then to the way they look today. “This collection shows how he interacted with the community. The minute you see these photographs you’re immediately drawn in.”

The “High Rock Lake Dam” series chronicles the completion of Tallassee Power Company’s project to transform the tiny town of Newsom into the fisherman’s paradise and recreational haven that thousands of visitors and permanent residents know and love today. The commissioned photographs capture the period between 1926 and 1927 during which 10,000 acres of land were cleared and flooded.

The “Junior Order of American Mechanics’ Home” gallery showcases the earliest days of what is now known as the American Children’s Home. Originally established to house orphaned children of Junior Order United American Mechanics members, the organization eventually began accepting placements through the Department of Social Services. Waters shares an intimate look into the lives of early residents, who often participated in group activities and occupational training such as farming, butchering, and typing.

The “Erlanger Mill Village” photos reveal the inner workings of communal life as experienced by the employees of Lexington’s most prolific textile mill and their families. Established in 1913 by mill owners Abraham and Charles Erlanger, the village and its residents would develop a unique identity and culture over the next 15 years. Waters’ photos not only capture the beauty of the neighborhood’s Craftsman bungalows, but social and civic activities like carnivals, dances, potluck gatherings, pageants, and more. Notably, children are the subject of many of the images.

“Children were attracted to him because he was so much fun,” said Waters’ daughter, Mary Spaulding. “He was especially good with children in his studio.”

Along with her brother, Tom Waters, Spaulding remembers putting on circus acts in the family’s backyard while her father played the drums and trumpet. She also remembers how her father involved the entire family in nearly every aspect of his business. They would accompany Waters on many of his trips to photograph local events. Her mother, Mabel (Gerald) Waters, was also known for spending long hours in the studio tinting portraits by hand and posing subjects during sessions.

“It was a great partnership,” said Spaulding. Between them, she and Tom Spaulding have expanded Waters’ surviving relatives to include seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. “He was a fun father. Anybody in town who knew him would say ‘Oh yeah, there goes H. Lee, riding his motorcycle around town in a three piece suit.’”

Waters was known also as an innovator, explained Hoffman. When the Depression set in, he supplemented his income from portraits and commissioned work by branching out into filmmaking. He travelled to cities all across North Carolina and parts of Virginia creating short films that he called “Movies of Local People.” Much of the surviving footage can now be viewed online thanks to a project of Duke University Libraries Digital Collections. Beyond that, Waters also catered to military families by making portraits of draftee groups and departing servicemen. Wives would often commission Waters to ensure enlisted fathers could see images of their growing families. “He always came up with new ways of bringing customers in,” said Spaulding.

In spite of the industriousness that drove Waters to produce the sheer volume of work now being revered, Spaulding thinks he would most likely wonder what all the “fuss” was about if he were still around.

“I don’t think my dad had any idea how many photographs he had. When you’re busy earning a living you’re unaware of what a collection it is. He loved what he did. He just felt a passion for taking photographs and freezing those moments in the history of Lexington. It was more fun for him. It was a hobby. It was his life.”

“There is no alternate source for this information and that’s what makes this an outstanding exhibit. We feel this collection is unique in the country,” said Hoffman. “Photographers come and go but Mr. Waters stayed in his studio and took pictures through the 80s. The body of work is not only large but it focuses on Davidson County, which is unique.”

“This exhibit is a real dream come true for our family,” said Spaulding. This has been going on for many years. We’re so thankful to Catherine. When the studio closed (she) was able to be there when they were cleaning it out. She was able to rescue photographs that might have been thrown out in the chaos. They (the Davidson County Historical Museum staff) have worked so hard to get them filed and identified as much as possible. This is the place it should be. Even though most of the people he knew are gone, their children and grandchildren will recognize people in these photographs. It’s very important to have this as a permanent exhibit in Lexington. It’s just fabulous.”


The Davidson County Historical Museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The H. Lee. Waters Online Gallery can be found at

fall football

2015 Football Schedules


Date Opponent

8/21 @ West Stokes (King, NC)

8/28 @ Lexington (Lexington, NC)

9/4 East Davidson

9/11 @ West Davidson (Lexington, NC)

9/18 Graham

9/25 @ Southwestern Randolph (Asheboro, NC):


10/2 Ledford

10/9 @ Southern Guilford (Greensboro, NC)

10/16 North Forsyth

10/23 @ Western Guilford (Greensboro, NC)

11/6 Asheboro


Date Opponent

8/21 Providence Grove

8/28 @ McMichael (Mayodan, NC)

9/4 @ Central Davidson (Lexington, NC)

9/11 Ledford

9/18 @ Wheatmore (Trinity, NC)

9/25 Trinity: Homecoming

10/9 @ Salisbury (Salisbury, NC)

10/16 Thomasville

10/23 @ North Rowan (Spencer, NC)

10/30 Lexington

11/6 @ West Davidson (Lexington, NC)


Date Opponent

8/21 West Davidson

8/28 North Davidson

9/4 @ Southwest Guilford (High Point, NC)

9/11 @ East Davidson (Thomasville, NC)

9/18 Salisbury (Salisbury, NC)

9/25 Western Guilford

10/2 @ Central Davidson (Lexington, NC)

10/9 Asheboro

10/16 @ Southwestern Randolph (Asheboro, NC)

Middle School Night

10/30 Southern Guilford

11/6 @ North Forsyth (Winston-Salem, NC)


Date Opponent

8/21 Wheatmore

8/28 Central Davidson

9/4 Randleman

9/11 @ North Davidson (Lexington, NC)

9/18 @ Southwestern Randolph (Asheboro, NC)

10/2 @ North Rowan (Spencer, NC)

10/16 Salisbury

10/23 @ West Davidson (Lexington, NC)

10/30 @ East Davidson (Thomasville, NC)

11/6 Thomasville


Date Opponent

8/21 High Point Central (High Point, NC)

8/28 @ Ledford (Thomasville, NC)

9/4 @ Asheboro (Asheboro, NC)

9/11 Lexington

9/25 Glenn

10/2 Mount Tabor

10/9 @ Reagan (Pfafftown, NC)

10/16 Davie

10/23 @ R.J. Reynolds (Winston-Salem, NC):


10/30 Parkland

11/6 @ West Forsyth (Clemmons, NC)


Date Opponent

8/21 Pine Lake Prep

8/28 @ North Stokes (Danbury, NC)

9/4 @ West Davidson (Lexington, NC)

9/11 Union Academy

9/18 @ North Stanly (New London, NC)

9/25 Albemarle

10/2 @ North Moore (Robbins, NC): Rivalry Game

10/9 South Stanly

10/16 @ East Montgomery (Biscoe, NC)

10/30 @ West Montgomery (Mt. Gilead, NC)

11/6 Chatham Central


Date Opponent

8/21 @ Albemarle (Albemarle, NC)

8/28 Southern Lee

9/4 @ West Montgomery (Mt. Gilead, NC)

9/18 @ Starmount (Boonville, NC)

9/18 Randleman

10/2 Wheatmore

10/9 West Davidson

10/16 @ East Davidson (Thomasville, NC)

10/23 @ Salisbury (Salisbury, NC)

10/30 North Rowan

11/6 @ Lexington (Lexington, NC): Rivalry Game


Date Opponent

8/21 @ Ledford (Thomasville, NC)

8/28 @ Providence Grove (Franklinville, NC)

9/4 South Davidson

9/11 Central Davidson

9/18 @ Trinity (Trinity, NC)

9/25 Wheatmore

10/9 @ Thomasville (Thomasville, NC)

10/16 North Rowan

10/23 Lexington

10/30 @ Salisbury (Salisbury, NC): Senior Night

11/6 East Davidson


Pumped for Pumpkins

Pumped for Pumpkins

For many of us, fall means running to the nearest coffee shop at least once a day to satisfy our addiction to the famous seasonal Pumpkin Spice Lattes. This year, break that tradition with a little encouragement from these pumpkin treats in addition to your favorite coffee drink. The smooth and rich taste of pumpkin can give you tasty rewards throughout the fall regardless of which meal you choose to enjoy it. In addition to its rich fall flavor, pumpkin has added health benefits. It’s packed with Vitamin A which helps keep your eyes sharp, it aids in weight loss (who doesn’t like that?), can reduce bad cholesterol, and reduce your risk of getting cancer. With a few of these recipe favorites, you can break that addiction to Pumpkin Spice Latte, increase your wellness, and wow the crowd.

Pumpkin and Bacon Mac & Cheese:


1 8-lb. pumpkin, preferably the Cinderella variety (optional)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. macaroni noodles

6 strips thick-cut bacon

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

2 c. pumpkin, diced (squash would also be delicious)

1/4 c. all-purpose flour

2 c. heavy cream

1 c. whole milk

1 clove garlic, minced

4 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper


Preheat the oven to 375°F. If you are not using the pumpkin, prepare a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish with cooking spray. If using the pumpkin, slice off the top one-third of the way down. Scrape out and discard the seeds and pulp to create a bowl. Generously salt and pepper the inside of the pumpkin. Place the pumpkin and its top directly on a baking stone or on a large sheet pan and bake for 1 hour, or until tender.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni noodles and boil until 1 minute shy of their al dente cooking time, according to the package instructions. Drain, rinse with cool water, drain again and set aside. Cook the bacon in a large heavy pot over medium heat until crispy and all the fat has been rendered, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain the bacon, chop roughly and set aside. In the same pot over medium heat, melt ¼ cup of the butter into the bacon fat. Add the onion and cook until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin cubes and cook for 6 to 8 minutes—the pumpkin should be just tender, not mushy or falling apart. Season with salt, transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. In the same heavy pot over medium heat, melt the remaining ¼ cup butter. Add the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the butter and flour form a smooth paste or roux. Add the cream, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Add the milk and stir the roux until smooth. Stir in the garlic. Add the cheese and stir until very smooth. Add the cayenne pepper and season with salt. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the macaroni noodles. Add the onions, pumpkin and bacon and stir everything together really well. Spoon the macaroni into the pumpkin (or the baking dish) and bake for 30 minutes, until the macaroni and cheese is very hot and bubbly on the edges and the top is crispy and golden. Serve immediately.

Roasted Pumpkin Salad


3 c. of pumpkin (or other winter squash), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

Extra-virgin olive oil

Fine grain sea salt

12 tiny red onions or shallots, peeled (OR 3 medium red onions peeled and quartered)

2 c. cooked wild rice*

1/3 c. sunflower seeds

1/3 c. olive oil

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. honey

2 Tbsp. warm water

1/2 c. cilantro, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 375. Toss the pumpkin in a generous splash of olive oil along with a couple pinches of salt, and turn out onto a baking sheet. At the same time, toss the onions with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and turn out onto a separate baking sheet. Roast both for about 45 minutes, or until squash is brown and caramelized. The same goes for the onions, they should be deeply colored, caramelized, and soft throughout by the time they are done roasting. You’ll need to flip both the squash and onion pieces once or twice along the way – so it’s not just one side that is browning. In the meantime, make the dressing. With a hand blender or food processor puree the sunflower seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and honey until creamy. You may need to add a few tablespoons of warm water to thin the dressing a bit. Stir in the cilantro, saving just a bit to garnish the final plate later. Taste and adjust seasonings (or flavors) to your liking – I usually need to add a touch more salt with this dressing. In a large bowl, toss the wild rice with a large spoonful of the dressing. Add the onions and gently toss. Turn the rice and onions out onto a platter and top with the roasted squash (I’ll very gently toss with my hands here to disperse the pumpkin a bit.) Finish with another drizzle of dressing and any remaining chopped cilantro. Serves 4.

Cheesy Baked Potato and Pumpkin Casserole



20  oz. thinly sliced potatoes, sliced about 1/8-inch thick

4 Tbsp. olive oil

Pinch salt and pepper to taste

1 c. pumpkin puree (about half of one 15-ounce can)

4 oz. sliced or shredded cheese (American, Havarti, Pepper Jack, Monterrey Jack, or similar)

1 tsp. all-purpose seasoning blend, to taste (Mrs. Dash, Trader Joe’s 21 Salute, or similar)


Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place about 15 ounces of potatoes (about three-quarters of the bag if using a 20-ounce bag) in the baking pan arranged in a staggered yet flat layer so the potatoes form a solid crust over the base of the pans, without gaps or cracks so the cheese will be contained when it melts. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Note: The prepared refrigerated potatoes I used are softened and somewhat pre- cooked; if using raw potatoes that are then sliced or grated, baking time will likely need to be extended. Spread the pumpkin on top of the potatoes in a smooth, uniform layer using a spatula or knife. Add the cheese slices in a single layer (or add shredded cheese so that it’s all about the same height and fluffiness). Top with remaining potatoes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle seasoning blend over the top, to taste. Bake for about 45 minutes until top is browned and golden. Serve immediately

Creamy Pumpkin Soul Devine Soup


2 lb. pumpkin (any), chopped into large chunks (remove skin and seeds)

2 med. onions, sliced

2 cloves garlic

3 c. chicken or vegetable stock

1 c. milk

Salt and pepper

Directions: Combine all ingredients (except salt and pepper) in a saucepan and bring to boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until pumpkin is tender. Remove from heat and use a stick blender to blend until smooth. If you don’t have a stick blender, use a food processor but make sure it is vented as mixture will be hot and expands when blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then garnish with a spoonful of yogurt or sour cream. Serve with crusty bread.

A stethoscope in front of medical

Pain Pain Go Away


Does this sound familiar? Probably so for most of us. We could say that at some time in our lives we’ve suffered from pain somewhere in our body. Headaches, backaches, knee aches, shoulder or arm aches, and so on. What do we do then? Some of us go to a doctor, some of us get over-the-counter pain relievers, and some of us just suffer in silence. You don’t have to do that anymore. There is a technology that’s been around for over a hundred years. It’s been used all around the world. There have been thousands of studies performed on its use. Even Albert Einstein took notice that this technology could heal. The best part is that it’s non-invasive, doesn’t heat up, and has no side effects. It’s called Red Light Therapy. There are other names that it’s called such as cold laser, low level light therapy, photo therapy, photonic therapy, and red light torch. The Red Light is a medical quality super luminous LED that uses a broadband single wave length of 660 nanometers. This number is important because the healthy cells in our body vibrate at 660 nanometers. When tissues are damaged by illness, injury, or disease, the cell vibration goes down. Having Red Light Therapy increases the vibration back to the normal 660 nanometers and the body essentially can heal itself. The color red is used because it’s the only color in the spectrum that penetrates the skin. There are eight ways that Red Light Therapy improves healing. RLT:

  • Reduces pain by increasing the production of endorphins, a natural pain killer
  •  Reduces inflammation by suppressing enzymes that create swelling, redness, and pain
  •  Increases cellular regeneration and healing by stimulating the mitochondria in the cell
  •  Increases lymphatic drainage and circulation
  •  Relaxes tight muscles and quickly releases muscle cramps
  •  Increases antibody production in the bloodstream
  •  Improves structure of tendons, bones, teeth, skin, and cartilage by increasing collagen production
  •  Increases serotonin levels which stimulate strong heart beats, regulate inflammation and allergic reactions, initiate sleep, fight depression and stimulate smooth muscle in the intestinal wall, helping it contract

It’s important to know what the best Red Light is when you are considering having this therapy or purchasing one for yourself. I’m not an engineer or math expert, but you need to ask about the “output power” of the Red Light. This is the power that comes out of the end of your Red Light. You need to look for quality and an output power number within 10% of the advertised output.  Not all Red Lights are created equal. At The Nature Cottage, a health and wellness store featuring essential oils, we use the Photonic Health Red Light for therapy and through our rental program. We can also help you purchase one for yourself. It is, in our opinion, the best Red Light on the market. If you have questions or want to experience the Red

Light Therapy for yourself, contact us at 336-843-4297 or at