PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: In the middle of October I returned to Lonaconing, Maryland, and the silk mill where the past clings like dust. I was joined by two friends from the first trip and three friends from Connecticut, and we photographed one afternoon and the next morning, four hours each shoot.
Holding on: The mill is holding on, but not quite. Though it has been under six months since we photographed the silk mill last, the building was in noticeably worse condition. Where armies of buckets caught drips, the roof has begun to fail and temporary posts have been inserted to support what's left of the roof. There must have been a mess to clean, but you can't clean antiques. The spinning machines are still in place but missing beneath them is the clutter and the patina of age. It is as if someone had just dragged a damp sponge across a picture, wiped away decades, smudged dusty memories. More importantly, the fix is short term. The factory is letting go, though we could still almost hear the gossip and footstaps in the old stair. and try to turn whispers to photographs.
Winding & TwistingBut for the bobbin boyand the machinist,on the third floorthe winders were all women.That's just the way it was.For fifty yearsriver of stepsup and downand fifty morewhen the stairs creakedthough no one passed,- shoes and umbrellason the third floor,forgottenand the lift stuck in the middle.no reeling or coning there,by the steamers,nor the men downstairsthrough the night,twisting.