Worth a thousand words: Photograph acts as time capsule of history, Berkeley County – Martinsburg Journal

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Updated: October 27, 2021 @ 3:22 am
Jayme Stuckey, left, and Mary Frances Smallwood pose with Stuckey’s first-place photo from the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival, which showed Smallwood peeling an apple.

Jayme Stuckey, left, and Mary Frances Smallwood pose with Stuckey’s first-place photo from the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival, which showed Smallwood peeling an apple.
The content is simple — a pair of hands, a old pie pan, an apple, a well-used knife.
The photo means so much more, the true definition of “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Jayme Stuckey, a Musselman High student, recently won first prize and third prize at the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival with photos that were true time capsules in and of themselves, photos that connected to the deep roots of apples in Berkeley County.
The winning photo showed a pair of hands, ones that belong to Mary Frances Smallwood, though that is unknown to a passerby, and the hands are peeling an apple with a knife above a well-loved pie pan.
Beautiful on its own, the photo’s purpose is much deeper than surface level, as Smallwood’s ties to apples are about as rich as those in the county.
Smallwood, who is 95, worked at the Musselman Apple Plant until its closing, stepping away for a brief period to be married and work at Clearbrook Woolen, only to return as the plant transitioned to Knouse Foods. Smallwood was recently recognized by Community Connections Church and Knouse as the oldest living female worker, honoring her with an apple trophy. The apple plant recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.
“I was sort of surprised,” Smallwood said with a charming laugh. “I wasn’t thinking anything I was doing would look like that, but it was beautiful.”
The contrast in colors and the well-worked hands craftily peeling the apple, though, is truly a thing of beauty, especially when the meaning behind is considered.
“I was really pleased (with the photos),” Stuckey said. “I was really pleased that Mrs. Smallwood let me do that, because they wouldn’t be as meaningful if it wasn’t for her.
“Mrs. Smallwood is 95, and she’s older. She’s grown up peeling apples, making apple pie. Just being able to capture all the wrinkles, the old pie pan with cuts and scrapes, for me, it made it meaningful. She’s such a sweet woman, and I’m so glad and thankful she did that for me.”
Having known Smallwood her entire life, Stuckey said the older woman truly embodies the history of Berkeley County.
“It was a fun experience, because Mr. and Mrs. Smallwood, both of them, they’ve always been a big part of my life,” Stuckey said. “She was excited and tickled that I asked her to do it. My grandmother also worked at the apple plant, but for some reason, there was just something about Mrs. Smallwood that I just felt like it was her. I needed to have her do it. She was excited. She got a different shirt on and did her makeup and hair. We just had fun with it.”
Smallwood worked in the back of the plant for most of her career, working in labeling and running the cooler after the apples had been processed. She said the friendships made during her time and working with people she considered her friends was the best part of the job.
Remembering those days while growing closer with Stuckey and Christal Smallwood, who is Stuckey’s aunt and Smallwood’s daughter-in-law, was a joy to experience.
“I’ve always baked a lot of pies. I do a lot of baking,” Smallwood said. “I never thought that I would be doing something like that for someone, sitting there peeling an apple in an old tin pan and the old knife I use. It seems like something I never thought I’d do. I really did enjoy doing that.”
Stuckey said she was shocked to win both first and third, having always been artistic but just picking up photography last year.
“Smack dab in the middle of COVID,” she laughed. “I was supposed to take a painting class at my high school, but with COVID, we couldn’t do a painting class. All the kids in painting got switched over, and that’s where I really found an interest in photography.”
While Stuckey loves and will always cherish the photos of Smallwood — ones that her family intends to hang in their home — she can’t wait to see where the art form takes her.
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