Church Near Collapse, Downtown, Lima, Ohio, 3/16/19

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My city closed part of a downtown street this week because a church is falling apart. Yesterday The Lima News ran a story summarizing the building’s history and its imminent demolition.

This morning my husband and I ventured downtown to take some pictures of the church before it, like so many other downtown buildings, disappears. There’s something about demolition that messes with my memory. Once a building is gone, I have a hard time remembering it, to the point where I might not remember what sort of building used to occupy a particular empty lot. Was it an apartment building, a defunct store, a school? Give me a few years and I won’t recall, unless I actually spent time inside of that structure while it still stood.

Before my husband and I finished taking pictures, a crew had already arrived to drop off equipment for the demolition that is slated to begin on March 19:

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The workers seemed very familiar with this part of Lima, almost like the downtown had acquired that home-away-home feeling that seems to develop around a long-term workplace. So many buildings have been knocked down that demolition contractors and heavy equipment rental companies indeed know this area well.

As my husband and I walked around the block where the church is located, I noticed how empty the south half of downtown has become. While the abandonment and demolition of a church is sad on its own terms, the building has persisted longer than many other structures in the downtown. Here is the view from the church to Town Square, which sits two blocks away:

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When I first moved to Lima in 1981, those fields were not empty. Grass grew only in the margins between the sidewalks and the street (if there was room for any grass at all). Now there are plans for an outdoor amphitheater to be built across the street from where the church is (of course the church won’t be there for much longer):

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There are also plans for an expansion of Rhodes State College’s Division of Allied Health in the empty southeast corner of Town Square. Also, an aging bank building is near completion of its conversion to apartments. There are signs of growth in the downtown area, but this cityscape will cater to a demographic that is decidedly younger than that I’d notice downtown when I myself was young. Back in the 80s and early 90s, downtown Lima seemed full of people who looked old to me at that time: aging patrons of the Lima Symphony Orchestra and blue-haired women shoppers of the stores that survived the retail collapse of downtown.

There were also the crumbling half-old men who spent lots of time in bars where every drink could be the last, either due to climbing back on the wagon or getting shot outside the bar. My maternal grandpa was one of those men (I wrote about him my blog entry called “A Dutchman“). Every time another downtown landmark disappears, I feel like another piece of Grandpa Bob has been lost to time, the setting of scenes from his life we never witnessed and don’t know for sure whether our absence was a blessing or not. At least this time the landmark reminds me that one day we will be united, with all wounds healed.

I will close this post with more pictures of the church that will soon be gone. The first picture has an oddball outbuilding that looks like it could have hosted a security guard or an anchorite. The notion of a hermitage downtown may seem outlandish, but downtown Lima has certainly hosted enough of the holy and the mad . . .

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How Did We Find Each Other?

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I’m still motoring through Agatha Christie’s back catalog, and the novel Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? has me impressed with how quickly its various characters are able to communicate by post or phone. It has me thinking that I too once lived in a world free of email or cell phones, and I don’t recall having much trouble making plans with friends or family if I wanted to emerge from my hermitage.

I can’t seem to remember how we arranged times or places with accuracy. I really can’t remember how we made things happen, how for instance we’d know to show up in front of the bookstore on a particular day and time. I don’t remember anyone failing to show up for such rendezvous. Late at times, yes, but absent, no.

This failure of memory seems absurd to me. It’s not like the first generation of car drivers forgot how to ride horses or how to read a train schedule. The part of my brain responsible for remembering how I made plans before I had a cell phone must be the same region that eventually forgets the particulars of a brand logo once a new one is adopted. This brand-forgetfulness has been a lifelong minor plague. When I was seven years old, my family passed through a small town that still had an older version of the K-Mart logo. The relief I felt at seeing the older logo was akin to dreaming of a friend I hadn’t seen in years (and said friend looking the same as when I last saw him or her). It’s the relief of knowing that your memory is longer and deeper than you suspect, even if your mental search engine doesn’t deliver an answer when you want it.

Now I feel like a cell phone is a shopping necessity. I could miss a call or text from home asking me to add something to my cart. Or, heaven forbid, I could “lose” my daughter or husband in the store. This is a part of life before cell phones that I do remember. My mom had a knack for disappearing in department stores. The larger the store, the greater the probability she’d slip away while I was thumbing through 45 rpm music singles or combing through a shirt display to find one in my size (which I could get only if it was on sale). I’d look up and Mom would be nowhere in sight. I’d spend the next half hour wandering the store and finding her only at the moment I’d given her up as lost for good. I’d spot her right before she slipped into some alternate retail reality where the pictures of mothers and not children are to be seen on milk cartons.

I’d have appreciated some way of knowing exactly where she was, but a cell phone would have diluted her mystique I suppose. Unless she went missing in a store, I had persistent knowledge of her whereabouts. I didn’t have to wonder if she was in the bathroom or the backyard or the planet Venus. I just knew. Perhaps such transparency was exhausting at times.

How did we let others know where we’d be and when we’d get there?

Windows

Today was the end of ice cream stand season in this area, so we made a final trip to the Creamery in Delphos, Ohio. The Creamery offers typical soft serve fare, but it also has an array of hard dip ice cream available in near-obscene portions at low prices. For less than $3.00, I was able to enjoy almost a pint of peanut butter crunch ice cream. If you ask for one dip, they will give you a cup packed to the brim with ice cream, topped with an impressively large scoop.

Whenever we visit this ice cream stand, I am enchanted with the old buildings in this small town. Actually, I should make another trek there on a sunny day just to get some decent shots of my favorites, including a curiously truncated brick Colonial home next to the Miami Erie Canal. I should also get a picture of the curiously named Mayflower Hong Kong Restaurant, whose name and mission are proclaimed with 1984 hardware-store-purchased lettering (also the year this restaurant first opened).

Leading up to The Creamery, there are some super small homes and businesses, including what appears to be a defunct insurance agency. Its abandonment is curious because hardly anything goes fallow in Delphos. This town is a farming community, so it has been somewhat immune to Rust Belt manufacturing decline.

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I didn’t peer into the windows of this little building. If I had, maybe I’d have caught a glimpse of a white-shirted man sitting a desk with an Underwood typewriter and a black rotary telephone. When the phone would ring, he’d hope it’d be a prospective client and not a claim for a tractor that had taken a tumble.

I imagine such a scene because my mother once told me that some hauntings are impressions of the living. Think of the house you grew up in or the place where you worked your first job. If someone thinks such a place is haunted, perhaps it is because they saw an image of you flicker past.

I used to work in a freezer at night. Actually, I still work at the same establishment, just different hours and a different part of the business. Anyway, some of my co-workers have told me that they still see me (for just a split second, of course) walking down one of the freezer aisles.

Paul Bunyan

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I file this one under Abandoned because it was discarded to parts unknown once the small home improvement store upon which he stood went out of business. Who knows, maybe he’s in the living room of the folks who owned that shop, his earnest face a protest against the big box stores (half of which have since went defunct around here, too). By the time I took this picture, he had already lost his axe, and his jeans had worn to an acid-washed finish.

For those of you who have just begun making photography a habit, I recommend that you do take the time to capture the oddball sights you encounter. They may be gone by the time you return. I’ve been taking pictures for 16 years, and about a quarter of the places I’ve snapped no longer look as they did in my pictures, lost to demolition or updates.

As an aside, I’ve been puzzled for years as to why the updates of brand logos seem to erase or obscure their previous versions. Try as I might (and this is just one example), I can’t envision a K-Mart logo from the early 80’s, despite that my family shopped there at least twice a month back then.

Gold Chair on Trash Day, B&W

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This chair disappeared about an hour later, to the sound of a muffler scraping the road.