Demetrius Smith-Mayle rides his tricycle outside his home in Canaanville, Ohio. Vehicles pass along the concrete wall which separates Canaanville from the US 50 Highway. Coal was once the main industry of Cannanville and many houses in the are were erected for the miners. The population has decreased since the coal company vacated in 1925.
Jack Halbirt stands in front of a portrait of his wife and children that hangs on his bedroom wall in Canaanville, Ohio. Jack came to Canaanville as a child because his parents wanted to return to their hometown. He later served in the military as an airplane mechanic and “flew all over the world.” After twenty years of service, he retired and moved back to Canaanville, bringing along with his wife and two children.
Ashley Smith talks to a friend in her room, while her nephew, Demetrius Smith-Mayle, plays a video game in Canaanville, Ohio. Ashley often watches Demetrius while his mom is at school or out with friends. Ashley created the drawings on the wall. “I’m pretty bored here,” Ashley said. “There isn’t much to do.”
The door to the Canaanville Methodist Church sits closed. The church opens for service on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Most of the people who come to the church are from outside Canaanville.
Esther-Jean Lackey prepares for Sunday worship at the Canaanville Methodist Church. Esther-Jean moved to the area in 1977. She was relocated in 1998 due to the expansion of the 50 Highway.
Madison Webb watches her two sisters play video games. Madison lives in a low-income housing complex near Canaanville. Although the Canaanville Methodist Church invites children of this area to eat a free community dinner each Wednesday, Madison is too young to attend.
Betty Cunningham drives home after finishing her workday as a school bus driver. Betty has lived in Canaanville all her life. “My mother, and her mother, and her mother lived here,” she said. During the expansion of the 50 Highway, Betty and her family chose to rebuild their home further from the roadway.
Micah Withem walks his dog just outside of his home. He has been unemployed since he was fired from Lowe’s late in 2009. Micah is spoken of often in Canaanville because of his bisexuality. Micah said, “Southeast Ohio is full of bigots, and for the 20 years I worked in construction, I had to hide who I was. If God were to judge me for what I am then evidentially that’s fucked up because I’m human too.”
The sun fades outside the living room of Bob and Barbara Smith. Bob and Barbara moved to Canaanville in 1959 because Bob had been hired to paint houses in the area. “[Canaanville] was nicer when we moved in. Now it’s kind of trashy,” said Barbara. “People now, they don’t take care of their property,” added Bob.
David Cunningham (center) sleds with his brother, Levi (right), and sister, Tamra Kriby. When the highway was expanded, the concrete barrier was built on either side of the roadway. “I got in trouble once just for leaning on it,” said Levi.
Breanna Brooks tosses an empty soda can to her sister, Katelyn, while inside a camper the two often sleep in during the summer months in Canaanvile, Ohio. “Some people find the traffic annoying, but I don’t even hear it,” said Breanna.
Bob Smith (center) stands in a prayer circle at the Amesville Bethel Wesleyan Church. Three times a week Bob and Barbara Smith drive half an hour from Canaanville to attend the church. Bob announced during the church’s public declarations, “Our country took another dip. Washington is allowing same-sex marriages and there was a line of people waiting to marry.”
Jack Halpirn sits in his home while reading the Athens News Messenger. His wife died of cancer in December 2009. Jack’s son visits everyday to bring him food and medicine. “It’s very lonely,” said Jack. “I can’t do none of the things I used to.”
Demetrius Smith-Mayle walks on the living room table while his step grandfather-in-law, Johnny Walker, and his aunt, Ashley Smith, watch television. Johnny is a seasonal construction worker in Columbus, located 90 miles from Canaanville.
Esther-Jean Lackey points to picture frames on her wall. The frames were originally from the family of Esther-Jean’s husband, who died of cancer in 2009. “It’s part of my appreciation of things from long ago,” she said.
Mark Smith kisses his mother, Margaret, before departing from her home in Athens, Ohio. Mark retired in 2009 from the US Postal Service. He has a strong desire to travel, but does not want to leave his mother in her old age.