On Saturday while planning to go for a little ride I remembered my friend Barry’s request that people take pictures of areas where America was failing at home, so I through the digital in the Porsche and headed out to find the country’s hidden depression.
I needn’t drive far before I found the type of beat up, shingles falling off with old plywood covering unfinished modification homes one might picture today’s modern depressed populace living in. I reached for my Kodak and turned it on. Nothing.
Digital cameras are great devices that have only one small draw back, they need to be charged. At first I was disappointed in myself and felt that I wasn’t going to be able to fulfill the request of my friend, but then I decided what the heck,I would continue on and mentally record what I was seeing.
And what I saw was this, that while the homes I saw were local to me, what made them really stand out was the stark contrast between the delaminated plywood sided homes and the homes that often surrounded them. Those other homes, while not being of Martha Steward standards were, just the same, very well kept family homes. Nice appearance, good lawn and so forth.
I drove further on, thinking about that contrast. Was today’s poverty a helter skelter kind of device? Did it strike like a tornado, randomly smacking down its victims? Or was I just witnessing a case of the last remnants of the once mighty Juke clan?
Either way I decided to head a little further down the road towards lesser populated areas, and away from the towns that have ordinances that ban trailer homes except as a retirement community.
I needed to head towards the tri-state border of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont and I did just that stopping only to get a couple of cigars.
As I drove the old highway of route 5-10 for about 40 minutes I was soon “treated” to the sites I had come forth to find. There they were. Old homes that may or may not have been inhabited being so un-kept that I couldn’t imagine living in them myself, yet the lawn furniture was out and seemed clean. A bit further I took an old side road I had driven several times in my joy riding days. I recalled the old trailers that had been there then and thought to seek them out. 20 years ago I remember them as being inhabited, and seeing children out and about by them.
Saturday they were still there but must have been abandoned. The weeds were over grown from several seasons, up and over the lower frames, the windows broken, and vines, in one case, attempting to hide this embarrassing blight on the earth, and at one an old lawn tractor with the remains of a child’s stuffed animal, or maybe just a pile of rags on the seat.
I drove on and turned around, it was time to head home.
On the way back I thought about that stuffed animal (in my mind it had been a stuffed animal) and what child may have left it behind. Were they headed for a better home, a better life a chance at the good education and the brass ring, or did that stuffed toy represent not just the abandonment of a child’s toy but also a childhood?
Did the ghosts of memories haunt these old dwellings? Were birthdays still silently being celebrated? On Christmas morning did the memories cry for a solid matter to hold them and give them back the joy of existence along with the prayer of hope?
I could only wonder for a short time. I was back home and needed to fill up the gas tank.
The here and now of $3.89 a gallon gas brought me quickly back to reality.
Quick Music quiz: Who plays guitar on David Bowie’s version of “China Girl”?