Sunday, September 18, 2016

chasing James Dean

The Fairmount News headline could have read, "Jimmy Dean, starting guard for the Quakers, scored 40 points in upset wins over Van Buren & Mississinewa before falling to host Marion in the 1949 Sectionals."  Instead it said, "James Dean killed as result of California car crash" and later, "Fairmount buries James Dean's body."  Dean's meteoric rise to stardom and icon status was a few years away when Jimmy called the Winslow farm & Fairmount High his home. Although a good student and athlete, it was acting that would shape his future and take him to Hollywood & New York. In 1955 while living in LA (after filming East of Eden) Dean met another young man on the rise, photographer Dennis Stock.  Shortly after their initial meeting (& Stock's screening of East of Eden) Stock proposed a photo essay about the up & coming actor to Life Magazine that he believed would further both their careers.  The story would eventually follow Dean from LA to New York and, what would prove to be his last trip home, to Indiana.  Although Stock hoped the story would generate more assignment work (which it did) I'm not sure he realized that he was creating iconic images that would outlive both men (as seen below - James standing at the front drive of the Winslow farm, Dean & cousin Markie shooting hoops in the barn and Dean in front of a family grave in the same cemetery where he would be buried).  Fairmount has not changed much since Dean was a boy - the farm is still owned by Marcus Winslow (Dean's young cousin) and the hoop where he practiced still hangs in the barn.  And in the upstairs bedroom that once belonged to Jimmy Dean one can still imagine a young ball player looking forward to a bright future beyond the cornfields of Indiana.  CGS. 

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