Finding America: In Florida

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Note: This is a regular series by freelance photojournalist Elodie Reed. Each month, she travels to a different Berkshire County town in search of images that convey the "American Spirit" that Massachusetts refers to on its license plates and that Berkshires artist Norman Rockwell conveyed in his paintings. This photo series is especially inspired by Rockwell's "Four Freedoms," which articulated a vision of America through the everyday lives of its citizens that transcended the day's political turmoil.     

The town: Florida

Settled: 1783

Population: 719 (2017)

Area: 24.6 square miles

Connie Gray stands among the prom and wedding dresses she has left in her at-home shop, KC Bridal Alternatives, along North County Road in Florida.

While Gray has been selling dresses out of her home for 12 years, she first opened the business in North Adams with her daughter, Kellie, 24 years ago. Kellie stopped working with her mother in 2000, and now Gray is looking to retire after having a heart attack last year.

“I’m trying to sell as much as I can, give away as much as I can," Gray said. She just donated 189 prom dresses to Jessica’s Closet in Wilmington, Vt.

Even as she discussed retiring, Gray reflected fondly on some of the more memorable moments: the time she prevented one bridal party member from pushing another down the stairs; the time she supplied the same woman with four different wedding dresses for four different weddings; the year a bunch of grooms wanted camouflage tuxedos.

“I loved every minute of it," Gray said.

Jim Gessing, who lives along Blackstone Road in Florida, hangs his birdfeeder after filling it.

He said he sees “everything" come to his feeders: chickadees, blue jays, cardinals, and so on. “I want to make sure I take care of my birds," he said.

A cat sits on some farm equipment along South County Road.

Beech trees’ copper-colored leaves show through the Tunnel Road bridge that spans the Deerfield River in Florida.


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