Whiskers & Years | Main | Images from Arthur

April 26, 2006

We Found You on Beard Street

2006-04-26 arthur.jpg

Dear Arthur,

We found pieces of your life last evening scattered across Beard Street. It began with the inspection of three buckshot shells and a slide sitting in the gutter. Next to them lay one negative, then another. The decapitated head of an old enlarger poked out from a pothole puddle. Floating around it, we found bundles of medium format negatives, warping and staining in the dirty, stagnant pool. With each step, we discovered more. An old pay stub from your workplace, 1969. An electric bill, 1990. We held one slide up to the light of the streetlamp. It was the sugar refinery, labeled August 1981.

We collected everything that we could carry. We returned home, stinking of photographic chemicals, and drew a warm bath in the kitchen sink. Slowly, we eased the negatives into the water, carefully peeling those that had stuck together, rinsing them gently. You were an avid hunter. You built a house. You wife looked quite lovely.

Based on the artifacts we collected, it was easy to deduce who you were. We learned quickly where your house was, what army base you might have worked near, your wife�s name, and when you passed away. A quick check on your pay stub revealed your profession, clearly connecting you to the old shipyard, which is exactly where we found your pieces.

Beard Street was silent. The wind and rain were working themselves up against the twilight. In a matter of hours, you would have dissipated into the night�the negatives staining beyond recognition, your address fading, the evidence of your existence erased. I wonder if we would have found you had we come the next morning, staring up at the shipyard, looking for changes, just peering down once to inspect the buckshot.

Yours Truly,
Corie & Alexis

Posted by callalillie at April 26, 2006 3:03 AM | Arthur E. , City Life , Found History , History , Red Hook


A lovely tribute to a fellow traveller in life.
Christine had a similar experience recently. There was an abandoned house in the neighborhood and the kids would try to hang out there. One day they found boxes of photos, papers and belongings on the street in front of the house. A disposal company was clearing the property for demolition. She found some letters, a diary and a few of the pictures on the grass. She came in and proclaimed how sad it was that no one knew who the woman in the diary was anymore. It seemed there was no family nor friend to even dispose of the pieces. I told her as long as someone remembers you, you have your immortality. So if you want her to be remembered, write about in a diary or essay or even email a friend. Just a little more time here with us.
You did Arthur proud.

Posted by: Vickie at April 26, 2006 7:36 AM

Wow, what an amazing thing to do. I'm always very interested in found objects and their connections to their previous owner.

Posted by: breana at April 26, 2006 12:55 PM

This is great. Somehow supports the notion that we are all in this together and the intertwining of strangers lives is sometimes the sweetest thing.

Posted by: Marcia at April 26, 2006 1:18 PM

awesome story - great work - I found a whole bunch of photos too and i'm gonna post 'em. thanks for the cool link.

Posted by: matt at April 26, 2006 3:10 PM

That was cool.

Posted by: kdub at April 26, 2006 4:44 PM

Nice gesture....the best ones are those not expected.

Your story makes me wonder how everything got there and if you hadn't found it, what would the next person have done.

Posted by: Kris at April 26, 2006 8:04 PM

what a wonderful story. I love the pics too...piecing together history. Love it.

Posted by: carrster at April 27, 2006 7:58 PM

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