Wandering On The Backroads Of AmericaA number of years ago, I had just dropped off my family at the airport in South Bend, Indiana as they flew to visit relatives living on the west coast. Knowing that if I went with them, I would be the chauffeur for 2 women and 4 kids (did not count their dog...but it was a factor) in Seattle (a beautiful city, but a city I had yet to visit)...I chose to stay in Michigan (working proved to be much more restful than being a driver in Washington State). I decided, on a whim, to travel as many small roads between South Bend and the Detroit Metro area to visit my Dad. Being a planning kind of guy....the word "whim" is a bit foreign to me....but I took a chance. I looked at the area between the two locations...and immediately removed any travel choices on a highway or 2 lane road.
I was on a black and white photography kick (and had no clue what I was doing) and decided to find old barns and any abandoned small building with character. Being a male....and a man who even once took a cartography (map drawing) class in college (yes...on purpose)....I used the map only to be sure I was NOT heading toward that well beaten path of the masses.
Along the way I found a barn here....a farmhouse there.... Then I headed toward a small town. After all of these years, I cannot remember the name of the town (if you want that cluster of buildings a town)....but I remember the building. It once was the pride of the area. The school...not what you would expect...not a one room schoolhouse. Maybe it had two or three rooms. It was a single story building. Now covered in faded and flaking white paint, it was still able to grab my attention. Symmetrical in its design, the entrance split the mirror images of the left...and the right. Two windows were located high, accented by a bit of a curved gable. Some of the glass in the windows had fallen prey to a well aimed, or lucky, thrown stone....but the building, although simple...was still majestic in its own way. The roof looked to be in good condition. The door had not been opened in many years.
The lot was ringed by an older chain linked fence...the gate closed and locked long ago...and the key to unlock it had been lost over time. Weeds had overtaken the lot...and were now over two feet high. Yet, something pulled me to that place. I thought I would spend a few minutes taking a couple of photographs...then I would go. I was there, in that small town, too small for even a bl
I thought about all of the people in the county, long since gone, that went to that school. I did not see its neglect...but what I did see was a building of character, the pride of the area,.and the lives it changed. It transformed mine.
Take time to travel the back roads of your area. Take time to go off that beaten path...and find your own old building. If you live in a city...look, really look, at some of the buildings downtown....even those that are neglected...and think of their history...
It was a much longer trip than it had to be....to get from point A...to point B. And I would do it again in an instant.