History, Photography, Preservation

Goodbye Rife’s Market

Word reached me the other day that Rife’s Market, in the Grandview neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio, has closed. It was a five-aisle mom-and-pop grocery that would have been a throwback even 30 years ago. Fortunately, I photographed it in 2012 while it was still operating.


I was shooting Kodak Tri-X in my Pentax ME with a good old 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M lens. My goodness, could I ever shoot that combo happily for the rest of my life. I got some good, gritty shots of Rife’s. My friend Alice and I walked by midafternoon, and then again at dusk.


Curiosity took us inside. The butcher counter and produce section were right up front, filled with Ohio meats, fruits, and vegetables. Wandering the aisles for a minute, I found some Ohio-made potato chips. I love a good chip, so I bought a bag of each brand. One brand, Gold’n Krisp, was fried in lard. Oh lordy were they delicious.


I hear that Rife’s owners were ready to retire, but didn’t want the family store not to remain in the family, so they closed it. It’s got to be a ton of work to run such a store, for probably meager profit. But I imagine the family knew most of their customers by name. While I know not the first thing about the grocery business, and would probably stink at it, being part of a community’s fabric in that way appeals to me deeply.


How may stores like this could possibly remain around the country? Not enough, to be sure.

Camera Reviews

Nikon F3

There I was, happily making photographs with the Nikon F2 that was generously donated to the Jim Grey Home for Wayward Cameras, when the same donor e-mailed me asking: Would I like a Nikon F3 that he didn’t use anymore?

Does a wino want a case of Thunderbird?


I can’t add anything to the F3 story that the Internet hasn’t already catalogued. Camera-wiki tells the tale well enough. The sketch: introduced in 1980 to succeed the venerable F2, the F3 required batteries to operate (two LR44 or SR44 button cells), which initially alienated most photographers, who trusted all-manual cameras. Then Nikon went on to manufacture the F3 for a whopping 21 years. Clearly, photographers got over it.

Nikon F3HP

The HP in this F3’s name stands for High Eyepoint, which is that big round viewfinder. Glasses-wearing photographers are supposed to have an easier time seeing into a High Eyepoint viewfinder. I wouldn’t know; I wear contacts. If you look on eBay, you’ll find more F3HPs than regular F3s.

Nikon F3HP

The F3 finally brought aperture-priority autoexposure to Nikon’s flagship camera. (See the A on the shutter-speed dial?) I love aperture-priority shooting, but after shooting the F2 all year I’ve adapted surprisingly well to setting both aperture and shutter speed. I could happily keep shooting the F2 as my only camera forever. But I admit, I enjoyed setting aperture and letting the F3 figure out the shutter speed. It displays both in the viewfinder: the aperture directly off the lens barrel, and shutter speed in a little LED panel. Some people complain that the LED panel is too small and dim, but it was fine for my purposes. The shutter operates steplessly from 8 sec to 1/2000 sec, although the display shows the nearest standard speed.\

By the way, if you groove on the F3 then also check out my reviews of the F2A (here) and F2AS (here). I’ve also reviewed the FA (here), N2000 (here), N90s (here), N60 (here), and N65 (here). Or just check out all of my camera reviews here.

Otherwise, using the F3 feels mighty familiar after shooting the F2 all year. I clipped on my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens, dropped in two button cells, loaded some Arista Premium 400, and got shooting.

The F3 accompanied me on a trip to Columbus, Ohio. I stopped for coffee in the Short North neighborhood. I crouched low to photograph the counter.

Counter at Cup 'o Joe

If you like galleries and shops, you’ll like the Short North. One out-of-the-way gallery featured an artist who paints with egg tempera. You can lose yourself in the detail and color in her work. We got to meet the artist, but only after these well-behaved little dogs cleared the way.

Well-behaved dogs at the art gallery

When we stepped into the Big Fun store, we entered a world of 1970s and 1980s pop culture and kitsch. Old lunchboxes lined one wall of the store, but I couldn’t find a replacement for the Big Jim lunch box I had in first grade. Darnit.

Big Fun

On another outing I loaded some Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 and shot this trestle in St. Charles, Illinois, still with the 50/2 AI Nikkor.


Yet I seem to lean on black-and-white film in the F3 most of the time. I came upon some expired but always cold stored Kodak Plus-X and made this image under the bridge at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.


The F3 handles easily, far more easily than you’d expect given its bulk. The controls all feel velvety smooth yet built to last.

My heart is blocked

Fomapan 200 and that 50/2 lens are a winning combination. By this roll I’d learned the F3’s ways and it disappeared in my hands when I went on this photowalk.

Meridian St.

I made the photo above from the Indiana War Memorial; below is a detail from the Memorial itself.

Imposing Doors

This whatever-it-is was new in the cemetery near my home. I love the tones I got in this photo, and the detail in the sky.


Finally, someone gifted me some Fujifilm Superia 100, so I clipped on my 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor and moved in close for this photo.

North of 80 degrees

If you’d like to see more photos from this F3HP, check out my Nikon F3 Gallery.

I really enjoyed using the F3. It’s well made and very nice to use. I like my F2 a lot, but I think I like this F3 just a little bit more.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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Captured: Rife’s Market


I visited my friend Alice in Columbus, Ohio, the weekend before last. We ended up taking in the galleries, thrift stores, and specialty shops along Grandview Ave. and 5th Ave. near the Upper Arlington neighborhood. Rife’s Market stands on the southeast corner of 5th and Grandview. It’s a real throwback – meat and produce in the front, a handful of shallow grocery aisles in the back. We went in mostly to have a look, but when confronted by a giant display of Ohio-made potato chips I couldn’t resist and bought a snack bag. I love a good potato chip. Most of what’s available at the grocery these days is all crunch and salt. You should be able to taste potato, too, and the fat used for frying should impart a slightly creamy mouth feel. I liked the little bag of Ballreich’s chips so much I went back later for a full-sized bag to take home. I also bought a bag of Gold’n Krisp chips, as the ingredient list on the back said they are fried in a blend of vegetable oil and lard! My arteries are cursing me, but holy cow are these chips delicious.

Twilight had fallen as I left Rife’s and headed for home. My Pentax ME hung around my neck, with the 50mm f/2 lens attached and some Kodak Tri-X 400 inside. That good Pentax glass and fast Kodak film let me make the most of the available light for this shot. I love how the grainy Tri-X makes this photo look like it could have been taken in 1962, not 2012.

Road Trips

The Main Street Bridge, on the National Road in Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio, has long been known for its beautiful bridges across the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers. Built in the early 20th century, these multi-span concrete arch bridges frequently had open spandrels and lovely decorative touches that helped create a vibrant and beautiful downtown.

And then, one by one, city officials started knocking them down and building new bridges. Only a couple of the old bridges remain. The truth was, many of these bridges were crumbling and needed to be either restored or replaced. City officials chose to replace, which of course made many in Columbus unhappy as those bridges were part of the city’s identity.

The 1937 Main Street Bridge, which carried the old National Road across the Scioto River, was among those razed. Because of its open spandrels and art deco design touches, its destruction was a real loss.

Calvin Sneed photo

At least the city commemorated this bridge by placing its builder’s and dedication plaques on a concrete marker at the replacement bridge’s west end.

Main Street Bridge, Columbus
Main Street Bridge, Columbus

Fortunately for the people of Columbus, city officials intended the replacement bridges to have their own beauty and give a new look and feel to downtown. The Main Street Bridge was to be unique, with a grand arch soaring high above its two decks – one for motor vehicles, and one for pedestrians. Unfortunately, nobody was happy when the bridge cost $40 million more than budgeted and Columbus residents found themselves on the hook to pay for $15 million of the overage. The bridge was completed in 2010 and opened to one-way traffic. It was finally opened to two-way traffic two days before I visited it.

Main Street Bridge, Columbus

The arch is dramatic.

Main Street Bridge, Columbus

As I stood on the pedestrian deck with my camera, a steady stream of bicyclists rode by. I waited for several minutes for a break in the action, as I generally prefer my road and bridge shots to be free of cars, bicycles, and people so you can really see the road or bridge. (It does sometimes occur to me that the shot would be more photographically interesting with cars, bicycles, and people in them.) Notice how the pedestrian deck is higher than the motor-vehicle deck.

Main Street Bridge, Columbus

I run afoul of many of my fellow bridgefans when I say that if the old bridge had to be replaced, this is just the kind of bridge to build in its place. 100 years from now, assuming Columbus is wise enough to maintain it well, I say that city residents will feel proud of this and the other new bridges, because they will long have been part of the city’s identity.

Main Street Bridge, Columbus

Speaking of other new bridges, this is the new Rich Street Bridge under construction. It is meant to replace the old Town Street Bridge, built in 1917 to replace, as best as I can tell, an earlier bridge at Rich Street.

Rich Street Bridge, Columbus

After crossing the Main Street Bridge, the National Road follows Starling Street north to Broad Street, where it turns left and rejoins US 40.

On the ground, I thought Starling Street was closed. But now that I reflect on it, this was probably neighboring Belle Street.

Starling Street

Regardless, because so many other streets in downtown Columbus were closed because of bridge construction and associated reroutings, I couldn’t get my car anywhere near the Main Street Bridge to drive over it. After driving around confused for fifteen minutes, to great relief I finally found Broad Street and followed it across the Scioto River to where the National Road met it and assumed its path out of town.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Road Trips

Stepping back in time for an overnight stay, on US 40 in Columbus, Ohio

By the time I reached greater Columbus, I could see that I had left the rugged terrain of eastern Ohio behind. The road tracked straight, and except for a US 40 bypass of tiny Etna, the old and abandoned alignments had all dried up. But what central Ohio lacks in old alignments, it makes up for in roadside sights. I couldn’t believe all the old motels still operating, and still in good exterior condition, along US 40. You’d think it was still the 1950s!

I came upon the Homestead Motel first as I entered Columbus from the east. Its sign is similar to the one for Baker’s Motel on the National Road in Norwich. But this isn’t the Homestead’s first sign; this page shows postcards of two other signs this motel has used, as well as cards of other Columbus motels.

Homestead Motel

The Capital Motel is next.

Capital Motel

Of all the old motels I saw in Columbus, I liked the sign for the Brookside Motel the best. The top once rotated, and the other side of the top is white letters on black. (See it here; see it lit here.) This motel was originally the Brookside Tour-O-Tel and had a different sign saying so.

Brookside Motel

Perhaps the best known of Columbus’s old motels, the 40 Motel is way out on Columbus’s west side. Here’s its sign when lit.

40 Motel

A nice bit of neon identifies the 40 Motel’s office, too.

40 Motel

If you like roadside neon, check out some I found while out and about in Indiana herehere, and here.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!