We were on one of our road trips for this project, driving through Dothan. We made a wrong turn and wound up in the drive of Tri-State Tire and Rubber Company. We considered going in and seeing what was going on there, but we had another destination in mind so we kept going. We passed Tri-State Tire again the next day and that time decided we had to stop.
The founder of the company's son came out, Tony. We shared with him what we were doing and described the project a little. He invited us in.
Foy, the founder, happened to be there that day, too. I sat in Foy's office chatting with him for a good while. He sat in his office chair with a ginormous watermelon hogging the seat next to him. One of Foy's stories will stay with me forever: Foy was almost 90 the day we met, but as a pretty little kid, over 80 years ago, Foy had a particular idea he wanted to test. One day, kid Foy found an umbrella and climbed to the roof of his house. He stood on that roof, opened up that umbrella, then jumped.
I honestly can't remember what Foy told me about any injuries he may or may not have sustained that day. I do remember that Foy became a paratrooper in the Army's 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment during World War II.
When Pierre and I were walking around the Tri-State Tire, taking in the lay of the land, Pierre noticed Jason.
"He had this Southern, downhome, ingrained charm," Pierre said. "Yes, ma'am, no, ma'am, the entire day. He had something special. I think he knows it."
As we were setting up to film Jason, he told us a little bit about himself. He has a past. He didn't hide that from us, nor did we try to pry the specifics from him. They aren't really necessary here. You can imagine them to be a lot worse than they are, or more innocent than they might actually be. We're not out to find perfect people, just something honest.
After we finished shooting, Foy brought that watermelon out for all of us. Pierre and I sat around with some of the other employees, cooling ourselves off, joking around. Pierre gave Jason his camera, and Jason pointed it my way peppering me with questions. It felt awkward and uncomfortable to be on that end of the camera. Jason, whether he meant to or not, gave me a better appreciation for what it feels like for the folks that say 'yes' to being on camera for this project. And Foy gave me a better appreciation for how useful it can be to have a massive watermelon just sitting around your office.
By filmmakers Jennifer Crandall and Pierre Kattar, as told to writer Liz Hildreth