Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Times Revenge

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL - Where do our ancestors go when the past has been vandalized, disfigured and spoiled? At the end of the landing I pushed open a door and looked hesitantly into another room. From here to the river is farmland. The same families farmed here in the 18th century. Most of them rest in a cemetery nearby.

Amid the hall's gloom I stood on a pile of something, I wasn't sure what, preferred not to look, stuff. Stuff and clutter made it hard to stabilize the tripod. If I was careful not to move, the tripod would be still. I focused into the room toward a rusty box spring piled with soiled clothing and farther on into an empty closet. An old television lay on its side and a window fan. I bet it got hot in there on summer nights. But the picture wouldn't resolve.

I pivoted to look around the room. Still standing on the uneven mess, I reset the tripod, poking the leg deep to get to solid floor. Once it was absolutely solid I exposed the series of nine photographs that make up this image. Whoever lived here last left in a hurry. Now it's abandoned and left to fall. Is this the image of the present overrunning the past? Is this how it always looks when the new wave rolls over the old? I was pleased at the thought of the image my exposures would make. I reached down to fold my tripod and noticed among the trash I'd been standing on a hugely oversized, manila envelope, "PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES HANDLE WITH CARE"; the return address included the name of a saint and the word, "Hospital." It's the kind of envelope one doesn't want to have. In it were the answers to questions long moot, and I dared not look inside. I shouldered my tripod and hurried down the stairs. I was suddenly uncertain who really was doing the haunting. Then I saw another shot and redeployed the tripod legs.

6 comments:

Ragen D. Tiliakos, Ed.D. said...

I remember as a young girl, living amongst the flat farm lands of Iowa, coming upon an old farmhouse with friends. We wondered why the farm house was vacant and abandoned. We sought to solve the puzzle by looking through all that stuff avoiding the chicken droppings. I found a wonderful old dress with dolman sleeves maybe dated from the 40s... something that later reminded me of what Bette Midler might wear. After some cleaning and repair, I wore that dress on many occasions along with its ghosts. Ragen

Ted Roth said...

What a terrific story. As a child I also found abandoned houses to haunt. How I wish I could find those wonderful places now, but they are long ago demolished. I recall one that was on the grounds of what is now Manhattanville College. After climbing stairs to an unstable second floor that didn't scare me at all, I retreated in terror at the sight of a large bees hive on the second floor sleeping porch. How foolish! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story, Ragen.

Trotter said...

Nine to one... Incredible!!

Dick said...

Wow, I love this place, great shot.

Ted Roth said...

Trotter - Yes, 9 images made into one. I think I have enough resolution in the finished image to make a life size print. I would have been happy to make it with a single shot, but no lens is wide enough and no camera has sufficient dynamic range.

Ted Roth said...

Yes, Dick. I know this is your kind of place.