Entering Holly Springs, Mississippi on Route 7, you can’t help but notice a cluster of buildings that has struggled to survive. The remains of a mechanical college that dates back to the early 1900’s invite further inspection. A mixture of Victorian with Mansard roofs and ironwork to a newer auditorium building, the glimpses through vine covered windows tempt passersby. Having visited this campus for several years,one building is now a pile of rubble. Where books peeked out from a basement storage area, and glass shone in most windows, the buildings now stand forlorn while flocks of turkey vultures roost in the eaves and chimneys, The first time I disturbed them I was quite unnerved when more than twenty huge scrawny necked birds came swooping from the rooftop and began circling. Having no desire to reenact a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds, I tiptoed back out of sight.If you look closely at the chimney in the photo, several remain to stake their claim.There had to be something more useful to do with this property than let it slowly collapse onto itself. Unfortunately, it may be too late to try. The building in the bottom photo was damaged in a storm and is the rubble you see in the second photo. Somehow we have to learn not to be so shortsighted.
An old general store, host to many town gatherings wears a do not trespass sign as it sits still dressed in its work clothes. From the outside it looks as it has for many years. A glimpse through the keyhole (and a window) helps me imagine . I can hear the conversation around me, smell the coffee and listen to the sounds of the everyday. But its time has passed and I can only dream.
The sun is shining on the first day of our road trip. Driving east on Route 70, the speed is fast and the anticipation high as our eyes search the roadside for photos.We slow for a road crew and the signalmen is wearing a black and white striped uniform. Transported in time, I reach for my camera as my friend slows way down. Shooting through the open window, I take two shots ,but for the next miles all we can hear is bluegrass music and think about “O Brother Where Art Thou? “As a throwback to the 30’s, the uniform fits our desire to shoot the old and abandoned , but it feels so backward and out-of-place.
Continuing down the road, we reach Hollow Rock, Tennessee. The Main Street business district of one block is deserted. Needless to say, we spent some quality time shooting the remains.
It’s sad to see buildings and their towns end up in this state.
Later that night, I checked online to find out more about the striped uniforms. I learned that I am sadly out of date about jailhouse fashions. I think this is probably a good thing for an elementary school teacher.Although the uniforms were first discontinued by New York in 1904 because they were humiliating, they remained in use until the 1930’s through most of the country and abolished when they became too expensive. Recently, counties across the country are re-introducing the striped uniforms as a way to make inmates more easily distinguishable from the public.
Maybe too many people have adopted the orange jumpsuit look and I just didn’t notice, but I can almost see the striped pants or tops lending themselves to a retro fashion statement embraced by designers and teens.
While I , and many others, love to look backward to preserve what was good and beautiful,perhaps the county law enforcement agencies will look forward to create new ideas and solutions. Meanwhile, I can just hear “Man of Constant Sorrow.”