six degrees

this was one of the last images from my weekly photo column "six degrees." it essentially was based on the concept that everyone on earth is connected by only six degrees of seperation. this is mr. russell & his story.

“I’ve wanted to live on a ranch since I was eight or nine years old,” said Clarence V. Russell JR before taking a walk across land that comprises his 32 acres of a dream-come-true in Suffolk.

Russell grew up watching westerns, like Bonanza and Ponderosa, on the television. He even wanted three sons, just like the popular Cartwright family of the 1960s western, he ended up with two.

“As a kid I always said I wanted horses. My daddy was a farmer and my daddy’s father was a farmer. They didn’t like horses; they said they were a lot of work.

Growing up in Virginia Beach in the early sixties offered Russell a rural environment. The view from the window of the school bus he rode, to and from school, offered an endless supply of grazing horses to watch. “I remember at the intersection of Kempsville and Indian River Road there was a ranch. I think they boarded horses. The whole corner was nothing but a horse ranch.” Russell also attributes this experience as the start of his dream that came to fruition after 45 years of planning and doing. “There have been several chapters in getting here. It’s been a journey.”

In 1975 Russell was married and told his wife he wanted a ranch. “So we had kids, we grew a family.” After about 20 years they bought the property where the current ranch sits. “We’ve been building since the last six years and we moved in two years ago. I’ve been the architect, builder, contractor, and designer. I even dug the pond with the tractor. It’s been a labor of love.”