The opening words of Ron Fimrite's story about Martins Ferry, Ohio, the town that produced John Havlicek, the Niekro brothers and other accomplished athletes (page 78), are "The beauty of the place is that time has passed it by...." Who better to illustrate a story about a town with a rich past than staff photographer Lane Stewart, a man who routinely shifts his thinking from shutter speeds of [1/500] of a second to blocks of, say, 500 years?
Stewart, 43, is never happier than when he's painting military miniatures or combing antiques stores for vintage ice-cream scoops and swords. "I love to collect old things," he says. "I have a house full of junk." Stewart brings to his collecting an attention to detail that also characterizes his photography. "Lane really gets into his stories," says director of photography Joe Marshall. "He's incredibly thorough." Indeed, Stewart made three trips to Martins Ferry and endlessly cruised its streets for photo opportunities. "They must have thought I was a mugger," he says.
Stewart is similarly involved in the three-room half-timber cottage he and his wife, Anna, bought last year in the East Sussex, England, town of Rye, which was incorporated in 1289 (and you thought the Niekros were old). The cottage, on Hucksteps Row, a footpath, just off a cobblestone street, was built in 1485. "And it's not the oldest house on the block," says Stewart, who has spent time rebuilding the kitchen and replacing roof tiles.
Stewart plans to go back to England soon to buy Anna a car for her birthday. Typically, it won't be something right off the assembly line. "I started out looking at junkers," says Stewart. "Then, I got more and more interested in what I was doing."
"Lane has these enthusiasms, and when he gets enthusiastic, there's no stopping him," says Marshall. After doing exhaustive research and looking at a dozen old cars, Stewart eventually decided to buy a Riley, an English automobile last produced in 1969. After he buys the car—he has narrowed his choices to three Riley sedans, all dating from the late '40s—he expects to spend a lot of time restoring it. He has never done that before, but given his tendencies, that shouldn't be a problem. "One of my neighbors is cleaning out three pigstys so that I'll have room to work on it," he says. Restoring a car is only a one-pigsty job, but the neighbor, who knows Stewart and his "enthusiasms" well, suspects that he will soon be buying a fleet of Rileys to tinker with.
Stewart frequently finds the past in his present.