When I think of Chattanoogans who made a difference the name Herman Lamb comes to mind. The Chattanooga native enjoyed photography and now the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has dozens of his pictures available for public viewing.
I first met Mr. Lamb while a Junior Optimist in high school. He was a member of the downtown club and every year looked forward to the Tri-State Interstate Fair at Warner Park. Lamb and his fellow Optimists had a B-B-Q tent at the annual event. He would give Junior Optimist rides to the fairgrounds to assist in serving and cleaning.
His passion in life was taking pictures. Lamb said he and his brother became interested in photography while in elementary school. “At eight years old we built a dark room in our home.”
Many remember Mr. Lamb from the Camera Center that he and his wife Dottie operated downtown for over 50 years. Their lifetime together began in 1941 when they got married. Mr. Lamb said, “We always enjoyed doing things as a couple.” The Lambs retired in 1986 but their volunteer work continued.
Before retirement, the Lambs invited me to their home to look at some of Herman’s photographs. He was especially proud of the pictures he took when President Roosevelt came to Chattanooga for the dedication of the Chickamauga Dam (Sept. 2, 1940). Lamb said, “I got a close up and they put it in the paper.”
When Mr. Lamb became a resident of St. Barnabas he was roommate with my brother Eddie. I enjoyed many visits just listening to him tell his stories.
Mr. Lamb shared some of his service experiences during World War II. He said the government hired him to make pictures of the Womens Army Corps at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. and MGM hired him to help with the movie WACs “Keep your powder dry.” He would always say, "I have taken more photographs of women in military uniform than anyone else in the country."
Lamb had many stories about the early days at the Tennessee Valley Railroad and their various excursions. He and his wife were founding members of the Cromwell Road museum. He said he really enjoyed talking about trains especially with students.
Lamb was recognized for his skills by Encyclopedia Britannica, Popular Photography, Southern Living, National Geographic, the National Railway Historical Society Magazine and other publications. Many of his pictures were turned into postcards. Lamb said News Free Press Editor Lee Anderson would call him often and say, “Herman, have you made any new pictures?”
Reporter Jim Ashley said while working in advertising at Provident he took a lot of film to Mr. Lamb. He said, “I always got smiles and fast dependable service." Another customer, Jim Stevens, said Mr. Lamb was the best along with Herb Cohen and Ray Solomon.
The Lambs were active in various area Baptist churches. Herman shared his Christian experience saying he trusted Christ at the age of 12 (1929). He remembered Dr. Lee Roberson holding a revival at the Northside Baptist Church on Mississippi Avenue. Lamb said, “I went every night to hear Dr. Roberson, a real man of God.”
A visit to the Tennessee Valley Railroad just isn’t the same anymore without Herman and Dottie. In addition to working the gift shop and the roundabout, the Lambs spent a lot of time just walking around greeting guests. One can never forget those friendly smiles.
Herman Lamb died Sept. 9, 2011 but he left an indelible mark on the city of Chattanooga, the city he greatly loved.
Check out Mr. Lamb’s collection of pictures at https://digital-collections.library.utc.edu/digital/collection/p16877coll23