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Capturing an era of Shelton on film

Old photos 'are fascinating to look at ...'

In the late 1960s and early '70s, Dennis Meurer wandered the streets of his hometown of Shelton capturing black-and-white images with his camera.

A pair of young guys in blue jeans lean on a car inside the Mell Chevrolet sales room on First Street in the fall of 1970. Simpson employees work inside the mill's roundhouse, now gone. Shoppers stroll past the shops on West Railroad Avenue.

"It was more or less for myself," Meurer said in an interview with the Journal. "It's a form of hoarding."

His images are on display in the new exhibit "The Photography of Dennis Meurer: Shelton, 1968-1974" at the Mason County Historical Museum at 427 West Railroad Ave. in downtown Shelton. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

Meurer spotlighted his philosophy about "hoarding" in his artist's statement for the museum exhibit.

"Unlike the person who hoards little scraps of paper or worse yet those who pursue the financial hoarding of greed at the expense of others, I know that I did something of value," he wrote. "Like the collector who saves specific artifacts of cultural significance, such as posters, I know that what I had done in photographing Shelton will be for the future generations who came after me."

Meurer was born in Shelton in 1945, the youngest of three siblings. His father worked as a janitor at Evergreen Elementary School, which he attended. In 1964, he graduated from Irene S. Reed High School, where he was a member of the Art Club. He pruned Christmas trees for a living.

As a graduation gift, Meurer received a Rollei Magic camera. "An average person could use it," he recalled. He taught himself to photograph, and later took photography and drawing classes. He quotes one of the lessons: "Composition is to photography what drawing is to painting."

Meurer also photographed people on the streets of Seattle, especially when he worked at Totem Woods in the city. He worked at Tozier's in Shelton from 1991 until his retirement in 2017.

As for locals who are attracted to his exhibit, "It's probably nostalgia for the period," he said. Old photos "are fascinating to look at - you see the way things actually were."

Author Bio

Gordon Weeks, Reporter

Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald


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