The first book written solely on Phoebus came out because a collection “got out of hand.”
Luther T. Jackson, who is not a resident of Phoebus nor a native of the Peninsula, began collecting old photographs of this small, close-knit community 10 years ago.
Last January he decided, “I’m from Minnesota. What am I going to do with photographs of Phoebus other than set them on the shelf in my closet?”
So he began working late at nights to compile “Phoebus: A Pictorial History.”
Jackson, who lives in Hampton, has worked at E.L. Clarke’s clothing store in Phoebus since 1954 and believes, “I probably know as much about Phoebus as anybody.”
He married a life-long resident of Phoebus, Ernestine Clarke, and began his collection of photographs while tracing his family’s descendents.
Most of the photos in the book are from the 1900s and 1920s, with the oldest picture dating back to the Civil War.
Jackson says he kept all photos full size so that “no detail was lost.”
Pictures comparing sections of yesterday’s Phoebus to today’s Phoebus are scattered throughout the book. A short history of the town and the man for whom it was named, Harrison Phoebus, are included.
Jackson includes short captions with each photo, describing the location, date and any other information he could find.
He researched most of the photographs in the book through the Hampton library, the Syms-Eaton Museum and Dr. Chester Bradley, former curator at the Casemate Museum on Ft. Monroe.
This is Jackson’s first endeavor at compiling a book but the only problem he ran into was a minor one.
“I worked on the book so long and got to know all the old pictures so well that I didn’t know if I had any old pictures any more. I felt like I was actually standing in front of the buildings.”
Although he has no immediate plans for another book, Jackson says he will compile a supplement to his book is he runs into more photographs. This might be likely to occur for, as Jackson says, “Phoebus will always be there.”
Published Wednesday, August 4, 1976 – The Times-Herald