I honestly thought that these photographs were lost forever. I hadn’t seen them in years…but that’s not where the story begins.
It was April 1984 and we were just a few short weeks away from graduating high school. My best friend, Scott Carlson, had hatched an idea to take some “cool pictures” at an abandoned farm house just a few minutes from where we lived. Since I was one of the photographers for our high school newspaper and had access to a 35mm camera, black and white film plus could develop said photos at school without supervision, he asked me to come along. Scott was a bit of a free-spirit back then. He occasionally smoked pot, was extremely talented in art and track and was kind of on the outside edge of the cool crowd. I was all of those things except that I didn’t smoke pot, wasn’t talented in either art nor track and the cool crowd was indifferent towards my existence….so it worked out well. All we needed for the photo shoot was:
- tinted safety glasses (borrowed from welding class)
- a black tux jacket (borrowed from choir)
- Billy Idol sneer.
- a total lack of regard for trespassing (we didn’t know who owned it and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway)
- two cameras. One with color film and one with black and white.
- a little imagination.
We arrived at the farm after school and started taking some pictures. As you will see, the house was a beautiful home at one time. Scott was adventurous enough to go inside the house while I hedged my bets that he’d fall through the floor and into the basement. Years removed from this afternoon I wish that I would’ve taken more photos, gone inside and perhaps invited some of our classmates to join us. How much more fun would it be to look at these now as I share them?
Once we had been there for a little while we heard a truck pull up into the lane, it was old man Spickermann. I didn’t know much about Old Man Spickermann except that he yelled really loud at basketball games and had an ever-present scowl residing upon his beet red face. Scott and I walked up to his truck in the lane like two kids walking to the principles office. I think that I did most of the talking while he scowled at us, on his property without his permission. Mind you one of us was wearing a black tux jacket and tinted safety glasses while the other carried two cameras…not exactly looking like two juvenile delinquents vandalizing an old and abandoned farm. Mister Spickermann listened, never giving us an indication of his feelings one way or the other…just sizing us and the moment up. Once I had finished with my apology for not getting his permission and telling him what we were doing (which was harmless) he turned away without saying a word, opened his truck door, got something off of the floor of his cab (it was shiny) and moved back towards us. At this point I thought that he may have had a gun to scare us with, instead it was a chrome Thermos. He chuckled as he poured himself a cup of coffee, using the hood of his truck as a table, and talked to us about the farm and local matters. I learned that his scowl was just him being him and that once turned upside down was really a very pleasant face to go with the man. His beet-red complexion a consequence of years of farming and being in the sun. Mister Spickermann departed shortly thereafter and so did we…not knowing if any of these photos would turn out. Here they are:
A summer ago I returned to those gravel roads that I grew up on, looking for that beautiful old farm house and its outbuildings. What I found shouldn’t have surprised me…it was completely overgrown with trees and brush with old cars and trailers parked in its overgrown lane. I couldn’t tell if the house was even standing. Its probably better that I don’t know.
I last spoke to Scott at a class reunion. We’re quite different and the consequence of that is we don’t keep in touch. I wish that I could share these with him, or at least his kids….they’d probably all get a kick out of seeing them.
That’s us….two kids, now in their fifties, having a little fun thirty-two years ago.
Thanks for coming down Memory Lane with me. Take care and God bless.