Over the weekend, my husband and I took a drive through the alley behind the best house he lived in while growing up. The photo above shows what is left of its garage.
Through hearing about my husband’s childhood, I learned that I hadn’t truly been poor. There had been times my family had relied on the corner pay phone. We burned through a series of used cars whose idling engines sounded like Billy Joel songs. Throughout it all, we had a toilet that flushed and toilet paper. My husband’s family had neither until they moved into the house with the alley garage.
Whenever I’ve had an appointment with my back surgeon, I drive down Pine Street to reach his office. There’s a lot of economic disparity in my city, but the decline of Rust Belt factories has shifted most of the city’s prospects downward. Over the past 40 years, there has been a slow exodus of the middle class into the suburbs, and the college-educated children of these families tend to move to bigger cities, where there is a better market for their skills.
Now the city itself has such widespread poverty that the entire city school system qualifies for free breakfast and lunch.
When I came home from my appointment, I mentioned to my husband that I wished I could have taken pictures while I was driving to my appointment today. There were lovely ivory silk lilacs lining swathes of the curb lawns on Pine Street, in stark contrast to the crumbling, hundred-year old homes on the street.
So my husband suggested we take a ride so I could get those pictures. It’s so tricky to get good shots from a car. I figure there’s a learning curve that ends in weighing the purchase of a tilt shift lens.
I tried my best with these photos. I’d like to take more photo trips such as this one. There’s an ocean of such sights in this community, and their fragile decay has its own beauty.