Southern Towns & Their Stories

S-Town Logo

      S-Town is a seven-part audio podcast series hosted by Brian Reed.  Currently it holds the record for the highest number of downloads of any podcast ever produced (over 19 million downloads the first week alone), and rapidly developed a cult following.   

      The series was posted online on March 28, 2017 and I had the pleasure of discovering it soon after.  As with anyone else who appreciates the intimacy of audio stories like this where imagination fills in for the missing images, I reached the end of the series wishing to learn more about people who populated the story.  With an upcoming planned trip to the community in the story, Woodstock, AL, planned in mid-May, I hope to enlarge this page with personal photos and impressions in the near future.  Until then, I wanted to create a resource for others to see photos of the people and places in the story.  None of the present pictures are my own and I will give credit and links to where they can found online when possible.  Many of the pictures are from great articles that will shed light on ongoing saga that is S-Town and I hope you take the time to visit them to learn more. 

      This page will be divided into People, Places & Things.  I have tried to avoid giving too much away of the plot or ending, but be aware there are some spoilers so please continue with that in mind. 

Updates

 April 26    Added pictures of Cheryl's door with John's height marked on it & confirmed the ironwork as being                          from John's home based on kitchen picture and picture credit on Daily Mail website.  Also updated information about Reta Lawrence, spelling of name etc.  Who owns John's home and property?  Based on the Property Appraiser's website from Bibb County, Mary Grace continues to own the 2 parcels comprising the 120 acres John spoke about in the podcast.  Here are 2 screenshots from the site showing Mary Grace's ownership, (link 1 and link 2) and just to make things interesting here is a link to a parcel owned by Reta and Charlie Lawrence who are the current caretakers of Mary Grace.  There is a small home on the parcel which can be seen on Google maps, (screenshot).  Added picture of ad for services taken out by John McLemore back in the 1990's.  Lastly the stripper pole located in the Black Sheep bar at the back of the tattoo studio has been added.

May 2     Added a new picture of the mayor of Woodstock, Al, Jeff Dodson, pictures of the logo/sign of the Black Sheep with a new interior photo of Brian Reed doing an interview at the bar, a picture of John's Mercedes and the construction of Tyler's home around the trailer that belonged to John.  There is an excellent resource available at Reddit, timelines of the events in John's life and the aftermath.  There are 3 parts with links from a Reddit user named Justwonderinif great amount of thanks to him for his efforts.  Timeline I    Timeline II    Timeline III    Brian Reed was interviewed on a podcast program called Here's the Thing, hosted by Alec Baldwin, good interview, would recommend a listen.

The People of S-Town

    The central peAlabama Bill with Brian Reedrson in the series is John B. McLemore.  He is an older reclusive Southern gentleman who narrates his impression of the small rural town he knows only too well.  Extremely intelligent, the recordings of his thoughts wander from profound to vulgar with little warning.  His pessimistic descriptions of his community and the world in general are often laced with profanity but convey strongly a sense of what communities like this are really like. 

      I grew up in a place not very different from Woodstock, AL.  Everyone knew everyone else, generations had grown up together and intermarried until you felt as if everyone was a distant cousin if only you dug far enough back in the family lines.  The picture to the left is John with the Brian Reed in his Alabama home surrounded by the clocks he loved. 

John McLemore

High School photo of John McLemore     John McLemore attended  Cahawba Christian Academy in Centerville, AL.  Here aJohn McLemore's School Photo 2re some pictures from their yearbooks including his 1983 Senior photo in color.

John iwith school classmateJohn with an unknown classmate

High School Senior Photo of John McLemore

     

 

John's High School Senior Photo, he was voted "Most Unpredictable" in his class.

     There are few pictures from his adulthood available online. What is available are predominantly from two articles by the Daily Mail site in the United Kingdom and an article found on the Tuscaloosa News site from Alabama.  Here are links to these three great articles,  Daily Mail, April 10, 2017    Daily Mail, April 13, 2017    Tuscaloosa News, April 9, 2017

Here are some pictures of John McLemore with his mother Mary Grace.

John McLemore and his mother Mary GraceJohn McLemore and his mother Mary Grace

 Pictures of John playing with Tyler Goodson's children

John at playJohn at play

Various Pictures in unknown locations

     After some research it appears that the picture below near the potbelly stove was taken inside John's home. This suppostion is based on a quote from a Daily Mail article by a gentleman named Price who was one of the first responders on the night of John's death, here is the quote, "Price was one of those who responded. Inside the house were old toys, Lego building blocks, a pristine potbelly stove and other reminders of a life lived on the margins."  The last picture is of an ad taken out by John McLemore advertising his services back in the 1990's.

John misc. picturesJohn misc. picturesJohn misc. picturesAd taken out by John McLemore

      John had a complicated relationship with tattoos.  He had prominent ones on his chest and back.  The one on his back consists of the coiled end of bullwhip and red representations of slashes made by a whip.  The tattoo on his chest bears the Latin words, "vulnerant omnes, ultima necat", which means, "they all wound, the last kills", a reference to increments of time. 

John's tattoosJohn's tattoosJohn's tattos 

      The pictures of the back and chest tattoo above were recovered by members of the website Reddit from an archived page of the Black Sheep Tattoo Parlor co-owned by Tyler Goodson, a shop no longer in business.  The reclining picture of John above was selected by Tyler for John's memorial headstone.  Unfortunately the picture has since been removed from the headstone by someone seeking a souvenir of S-Town. 

Tyler Goodson 

     Tyler is another prominent person in the S-Town narration.  Unfortunately I have to use the word "complicated" again, a description of every person in this Southern drama.  Tyler is seeking help with legal fees and in erecting a better memorial to his friend John through a GoFundMe campaign.  The dog in the first picture is one of the rescue animals that John cared for at his home and is named Pipsqueak.  Update:  Tyler Goodson was interviewed by Marlei Martinez from Birmingham's NBC WTVM Channel 13 on April 22, 2017.  There are 2 videos available, the Broadcasted Interview of just over 2 minutes and the Raw Video of just over 8 minutes, (links are to YouTube videos).

Tyler Goodson with one of John's rescue dogsTyler GoodsonTyler GoodsonTyler GoodsonTyler Goodson

 

      Below are pictures of the tattoo on Tyler's arm dedicated to John B., the blue bus that was once parked at John's home and used for storage and a picture of Tyler's mobile tattoo studio he currently uses at local events.  The fourth picture below is of the Mercedes John drove and was later sold by Tyler, the last picture is of Tyler's unfinished home constructed around one of the trailers from John's home.

Tyler Goodson's tattooBlue Bus on John's propertyTyler's mobile tattoo studioJohn's MercedesTyler's Home

The Black Sheep

    The Black Sheep Tattoo Shop was mentioned several times in the podcast.  Below is a picture of Brian Reed doing an interview at the bar "hidden" in the back of the shop followed by a picture of the stripper pole and wall art inside the bar area.

Brian Reed interviewing at the bar at Black Sheep

     The sign and logo made for the tattoo shop, a tattoo of the shop's logo and the original artwork that inspired the sign are below. 

Black Sheep logoBlack Sheep tattoo

Others from the Story 

     There are many other people who make an appearance in the story as it evolves over seven episodes.  Here a few of them.

      The officials of S-Town, from left to right, Police Chief Len Price, Woodstock, AL Town Clerk, Faye Gamble and Mayor of Woodstock, AL, Jeff Dodson.  The last picture is from the Mayor's swearing in after his recent election to mayor.

 Chief of Police, Len PriceTown Clerk of Woodstock, AL, Faye GambleMayor of Woodstock, AL, Jeff DodsonMayor Jeff Dodson

     Below is a picture of Uncle Jimmy Hicks who makes a vocal appearance in the podcasts and Reta Lawrence and her husband who are the relatives who later on become the caretakers for Mary Grace.  There are 2 videos of Uncle Jimmy online at Youtube, here are the links to both, Video 1 Outside Dancing    Video 2 Outside Drinking  (warning rural AL residents in both).  The third picture is of Justin Hardin, he is heard in the portion of the podcast from inside the bar behind the tattoo shop.  His famous line is, "Give’em a picture. I’m a 6ft, 350lb bearded man in a John Deere hat, with  Feed Me on my belly. Just so ya’ll get a clear picture."  He wasn't mentioned by name in the podcast.  The fourth picutre is of Kabarhm Burt, the person John originally accused of murder but who turned out to be fairly innocent. 

Uncle Jimmy HicksReta & her husbandJustinK. Burt

Update:  There has been some dispute about the spelling of Reta Lawrence's name.  The unusual spelling appears in numerous official sites such as the Bibb County, Alabama Property Appraiser's site, (link to screenshot), the Putnam County, Florida Property Appraiser site, (link to screenshot) and property information sites like FloridaParcels 

Places of S-Town

      Let's start with the town itself, population about 1,500.  Below are pictures of tthe town's water tower, the Little Caesar's where John picked up pizza for his mother and the graffiti under the bridge drawn by John & Tyler the day before John's death.  The last photo is the Woodstock Garden Center that John co-owned and worked at for a brief period of time.

Water tower in Woodstock, ALLittle Caesar's in Woodstock, ALGraffiti beneath the bridgeWoodstock Garden Center

      John B. McLemore's Headstone, Graveyard and Gravesite.  In a short time the headstone has become damaged and the site of various offerings left by visitors.  The picture series starts with the entrance to the cemetery where he is interred and progresses to the first picture of the headstone when it was installed by Tyler and forward to very recent pictures.  John's online obituary with comments etc. can be found here.  There is a great article about the possible effects of mercury poisoning on John here.

Entrance to CemeteryJohn's GravesiteJohn's gravesite with his father's headstone next to it

Tyler's tattoo and John's headstoneJohn's headstoneJohn's headstone with offerings

Inside John's Home

      An Instagram user posted some photos of the inside of John's home and other features on the property recently.  I have not been able to contact the person and because I don't know the circumstances under which they entered the property etc., so I don't want to link to them directly here to avoid getting them into any sort of trouble.  The first 2 pictures are of John's Clock Shop, outside and inside.  A picture of the dime gilded by John in the shop and given as gift to Brian Reed is the third picture in this group.

John's Clock ShopInside John's Clock ShopGilded Dime

      Now we will go inside the home, from the front porch where John died to the various rooms inside. The room with the books I believe was John's bedroom, no verification of that yet.

John's Front PorchFireplace insdieFront RoomJohn's BooksBook left behindJohn's Kitchen

      Here are pictures of the outside of the home and swing.

Exterior of John's HomeJohn's Home OutsideJohn's Home OutsideJohn's Swing

     The following pictures have been pulled from Google Maps and are purported to show the ironwork around John's home.  According to some, the boarded up windows to the right of the sliding glass door are those of Mary Grace's bedroom, (picture 1 in the series below).  You can find the set on Google Maps here. A fellow Redditor completed a day trip to the area recently and posted some nice photos of the addresses and buildings, link here.

Mary Grace's Room off Porch on RightIronworkIronworkIronworkIronworkIronworkIronworkIronworkIronworkIronwork

Update:  The last picture above is credited to Tyler Goodson in the Daily Mail article here and if you look out the kitchen window in the pictures from John's home above, you can see the roof of the doghouse that appears in the fourth picture in this set.  Based on these two clues I would say that all of these pictures originated from Tyler Goodson and are of the back porch area of John's home.

Cheryl's Door

      Someone has recently posted pictures a door belonging to Cheryl that has various people's heights measured on it.  One of the measurements belongs to John McLemore.  Cheryl Dodson worked with John in the startup Garden Center and is currently the wife of Jeff Dodson, the mayor of Woodstock, AL.

full size picture of Cheryl's doorClose up view of doorJohn's height measured on doorJohn's measurements

     Here is an archived satellite view of the property showing the buses and buildings.  This is the image being used by Reta to dispute the claims of Tyler regarding the property in dispute.  This picture is from 2010.

Archive satellite view of the property

The Maze

      At the heart of the story is the Maze.  There is a great Drone view of the maze online  here.  Another video of the current state of the maze appeared online not long ago, it is brief but worth watching, you can link to it here (it might pause briefly but give it a second to load).  Pictures from the early construction including ones showing John and Tyler are below.  Let's start with the aerial view and coordinates of the maze.

Aerial View of the Maze Coordinates of the Maze

      Here are the various pictures of the maze currently available. Let's start at the entrance stonework, John appears in the first picture facing away from the camera.

MazeMazeMazeMazeMazeEntrance to the Maze

      Tyler working on the maze and later walking with one of his daughters. 

Tyler during construction of the mazeTyler and his daughter in the maze

      Views of the maze during construction.  The first picture is a collage of recent views of the interior of the maze.

Collage of Recent Views of the MazeView back toward entrance of mazeRight view of the mazeOverview of the MazeLeft view of the maze with wooden doors

      Lastly, here is a link to an article and video of the special sundial created by John and gifted to one of his college professors, Thomas Moore.  Here is a picture of Mr. Moore holding the sundial.

Thomas Moore, college professor of John's

      This is an ongoing project.  In less than a month I will pay a personal visit to Woodstock, AL and when I return I will post pictures here.  As I find new information I will link or post here as well as on Reddit so anyone can keep track.