December 29, 2014 § 1 Comment
October 16, 2014 § 4 Comments
Two elementary-aged boys, enjoying a day off school, approached me as I took photographs this afternoon in Brooklyn. It’s an old part of my hometown, a section I never really explored until I started taking photos regularly a few years ago.
The boys were inquisitive and charmed me with their constant chatter, moving effortlessly from one topic to the next. If I’d stayed all afternoon, they would have entertained me with their imaginations as well as tales of their lives, neighborhood, and ambitions.
I’ve interspersed pieces of our conversation with some of the photos I took.
Boy 1: I got this bike for free.
Boy 2: No, you didn’t. Just the tire.
Boy 1: Uh-uh. The whole thing was free.
Boy 2: No, just the tire.
Boy 1: I saw you taking photographs over there.
Camille: Do you like taking pictures?
Boy 1: Nah. I like bikes.
Camille: Are you enjoying having a day off from school?
Boy 1: Yeah. It’s okay, but Christmas vacation is better, because you get 15 days off.
Camille: And summer. Summer you get a big break.
Boy 1: Well, yeah, summer. That’s a given. That’s like 94 days off.
Boy 1: I’ve climbed every tree in this neighborhood. My grandparents live in Alaska.
Boy 2: My brother lives in Alaska too.
Camille: Have either of you been to Alaska?
Boy 1: No. I’ve been to Wisconsin, but that doesn’t count because it’s attached to Minnesota.
Boy 2: I haven’t been to any other state.
Camille: Do you like living in this neighborhood?
Boys 1 and 2: Yes!
Boy 1: But people steal your stuff. That’s why my dad joined the army, so people wouldn’t try stealing from us.
[As I’m taking a photo of an old shed]
Boy 1: That burned.
Boy 1: Oh, about five years ago. You can go in there if you want. You don’t need to be scared.
Camille: I’ll pass.
Boy 1: Someone told me there were big snakes living in there, but I went in and stayed for two hours and didn’t see any snakes.
Boy 2: We could make it into a house! We could live in there.
June 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
Fields of lupines have sprouted at the entrance to North Hibbing, a town that no longer exists.
Most of the houses, businesses, schools, and municipalities moved nearly 100 years ago to where Hibbing (my hometown) now sits, making way for the expanding iron ore mines. Some buildings stayed put for a few more decades but were eventually bought and demolished by the mining company as late as the 1950s.
All that remain are street signs, lamp posts, foundations, and sidewalks overgrown with grass, trees, and lupines. It’s a curious and beautiful place to visit. Especially when you’re lucky enough to bump into an original resident of the old town — as I did today — who can reminisce about the lovely neighborhoods that happily haunt memories and a few faded photographs.
If you’d like to learn more, the Minnesota Historical Society recounts the town’s move on its MNopedia site.
June 10, 2014 § Leave a comment
Strangers spin charming tales.
This restored General Motors truck from the late 1940s has been parked in the neighborhood the last several days. I took a few photos, attracting the attention of the owner, Dave, who came out and gave me its storied history.
Like me, the truck is from the Iron Range, purchased by a man who once went to my old high school. It originally belonged to the Oliver Mine Company and was used to transport dynamite. The man, a shop teacher, found it wasting away in a junk yard, no longer needed for the purpose it was once intended. He took the stray home, refinishing the interior with wood paneling and a wooden dashboard.
Ironically, the shop teacher who loved wood died while out chopping a pile of it a few years ago.
His widow called Dave, a favorite student of her late husband’s, and offered it to him. She knew he’d love it as much as her husband did, diligently continuing the restoration.
Dave showed me the new engine (circa 1970s) and boasted that the truck now has air conditioning. He pointed to the original air conditioning — a crank that opened the front windshield a crack at the bottom to let air whoosh in. Which kind of puts modern air conditioners at a “1” on the excitement scale. Yet I don’t need excitement when it’s hot. I need cool air.
But a hand-cranked front windshield would be the bee’s knees.
* * *
A few more photos from my day out in this big ol’ world:
December 29, 2013 § 4 Comments