The year was 1984…
…on an abandoned farm not far from where I grew up, New Liberty Iowa. My good buddy and I, Scott Carlson, got it in our heads to “take some really cool photos of ourselves” using one of the schools 35mm cameras (I was one of the school photographers and the only one who knew how to develop black and white film in the schools darkroom), a “borrowed” suit coat from the high school choir inventory and a pair of dark safety glasses. MTV had taken a foothold with America’s youth (even in our little high school), the movies Purple Rain and Footloose had been released in January and February respectively in 1984…so the old creative juices were flowing and with graduation just a few weeks away we took some pictures. These are just a few of what I have left, the remainder of them I gave to Scott some time ago.

The back story to this little tale is that we didn’t have permission to be on the property (it being 1984 and us feeling “bullet-proof”…we didn’t feel the need to track down who actually owned the abandoned farm). Lo and behold we started taking pictures, innocently enough…we weren’t doing any harm…it was just two 18 year old kids walking around barns, corncribs and an old house…wearing safety glasses and suit coats, taking photos…which was really kind of odd. Then, all of the sudden, we hear a truck door slam in the driveway. There stood old man Spickermann. Old man Spickermann was a large, barrel chested man with a beet-red, shiny puffy face. Most of the time he looked like he was going to either have a heart-attack or chew someone’s ass…or both, and there we were…caught on what we now understood was…HIS PROPERTY, WITHOUT HIS PERMISSION. He stood at the door of his truck as we walked up, glaring at us. I don’t know who spoke first, my heart was in my throat at the time so it probably wasn’t me. Basically what was said was “all we’re doing is taking a few photos on this cool farm, we didn’t know who to ask, sorry.” What I do remember is old man Spickermann continuing the glare, taking a step back and opening his trucks door, reaching inside the cab, grabbing something shiny from the floor of the truck and whipping it out and placing it…a Thermos of coffee…onto the hood of his truck. He smiled as he poured himself a cup and told us that “as long as you don’t get into any trouble here…” we were fine to continue on taking pictures.

I don't think "rebels" have feathered hair or wear safety glasses and black suit coats...or hang out of corn cribs...

I don’t think “rebels” have feathered hair or wear safety glasses and black suit coats…or hang out of corn cribs…

Me and Scott at the back of the abandoned house using the timer on the camera.  This photo hangs in our garage...has for years.  I like it.

Me and Scott at the back of the abandoned house using the timer on the camera. This photo hangs in our garage…has for years. I like it.

Odd.  Funny.  Scott was brave enough to walk up the rickety stairway to get to the second story.  He paused once he got up there since the entire wall was covered with bees.

Odd. Funny. Scott was brave enough to walk up the rickety stairway to get to the second story. He paused once he got up there since the entire wall was covered with bees.

Having given most of the original photos to Scott, I kept this "developers shot" of the negatives.  It gives you an idea of what else was taken that day.  Sadly...no photos of Old Man Spickermann were taken.

Having given most of the original photos to Scott, I kept this “developers shot” of the negatives. It gives you an idea of what else was taken that day. Sadly…no photos of Old Man Spickermann were taken.

That old farm…once a really nice place in the country, was overtaken by trees and such. I drove past it several years ago, along a curvy gravel road. Nothings “forever” I suppose, even Scott and I aren’t close….haven’t talked to him in years. I think that I’ll visit that old farm next week, its an hours drive. Old man Spickermann’s long gone, as is the choir jacket…but I still have the photos of that warm spring day in May of 1984, when feathered hair was still in for guys…when Kevin Bacon’s star was just beginning to rise and Prince was still Prince. Funny isn’t it…? What old photos make you feel and think about again…

Peace to you and God bless.
R

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The year was 1984…

4 thoughts on “The year was 1984…

  1. Many of us have had similar excursions in our life but have nothing to remember it by. Kids in our area once had a hall party in a local, abandoned 19th century mental hospital…Mr. Spickermann probably would not have been smiling. It’s great that you have the photos. Oh, by the way, love the hair!

  2. I love the photos. Being on the yearbook staff I can total relate. I have the original negative of the outhouse hanging from the tree on the hill at Wash. I also took the photo for the cover page “The 5th Season.” It was senior skip day and I have friends on a tower somewhere as we were going to Sandy Beach. It brought wonderful memories of those fun high school days. No farm or choir apparel, but all the fun.

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