Sunday, March 20, 2005

There Goes the Neighborhood

Back when I was finishing up the four-post saga on Horse Creek Valley and the Clearwater Mill I mentioned a deserted neighborhood between 421 and the Aiken-Augusta Highway, not too far from the junkyard. At the time, I said I couldn't post any photos because I didn't have the pictures digitized. Well, in the meantime I've obtained a film scanner, so we're going to try it out and visit that neighborhood for this post, just as the sun starts going down. Actually, the neighborhood begins right off the Aiken-Augusta Highway and goes down a bit toward the Valley proper. This is the first old house I went into. The graffiti, in red spray paint, reads, "AUi, ESTUBO JHNON THE O. HDOO TAXAS--TAJURO? MEXICO JUAREZ," possibly written by a semi-literate Spanish speaker.

There's a new website up and running that is compiling the history of Horse Creek Valley. (Update: This website no longer exists.) The site features all the great Richard Pearce pieces that I cannabalized for my own Valley posts, as well as current events, and a variety of additional background material. And more is being added all the time. It's a really great idea, so I'd recommend stopping by Horse Creek Valley SC. This is the house in the photo above, just inside and to the left of the door. Up against the wall, just under the graffiti, was what had been someone's bed. This, then, was the view out their back window.

The Metro Spirit of Augusta has an interesting story this week on "The Bottoms", the area around East Boundary Rd. and along Sandbar Ferry toward South Carolina. This is where the Goodale Inn and many stray dogs can be found. I don't know how long the Spirit keeps their features on-line, but for now you can find it here: The Bottoms. The lead-off photo looks pretty familiar, but I've also got a wider angle shot. I have an entire series on Sandbar Ferry Rd. that I'd like to scan and post soon. Thanks to Mr. XT235 for the heads-up on the article. Anyway, back to the Valley: the deserted block contained several homes, a bar/restaurant, a larger restaurant/nightclub on the corner, and this shop, Simpkins and Sons Cleaners. I assume it was a laundromat/dry cleaners, but even that's a guess. You can get some idea of how old these buildings are (and how long they've been empty) by the phone number listed: # 3313. The lack of walls is also a clue.

Each house had a weathered bank foreclosure notice tacked to the front, but it doesn't seem like the bank has been too enthusiastic about assuming ownership. I'd like to say I had photos from inside most of the homes, but I don't. You think an entrance that looked like this scared me?! Pshaw. Imagine if you took all the belongings in your home--picture frames, clothes, books and magazines, children's toys, crockery, furniture--I mean, EVERYTHING--and threw them all on the floor. Add rain, snow, and dirt, mix, and repeat. For seven or eight years. The resulting goo, filled with broken glass and oozing mildew, simply cannot be walked across in any sane way. There's not many buildings I won't go into, but garbage houses are definitely one. Most of the homes on this block were garbage houses, with nearly all the belongings left behind. That always creates an odd feeling. Where'd these folks go so fast? And why? Back in the original post, you can see the piano and TV abandoned in one of the houses I did enter. I couldn't go much further in that shot because the floorboards in the kitchen were sagging so badly that each step might've been a quick ticket to bloody disaster.

I'm going to mention a few photo sites that I've been enjoying, for those of you that want to see a little more of the GA/SC area. And She Was is a great site that covers northwestern South Carolina, up by Clemson, and also exhibits a fondness for mills. Lunchdroid, aside from having a nice name, posts great photos from Savannah and the lowcountry. Right now, would you believe, the Whittier Mill is featured. Hopefully the owners of these sites won't be too offended if I say I see similarities between some of our photographs. This place has a hand-painted "Keep Out" sign tacked to the front. For once, I decided to heed the sign. Yup, another garbage house.

You'd never know it from City of Dust, but I really love the desert. I've always wanted to live in the Southwest and, if I can find a reason (even a small one, like a job!), I might try to do so fairly soon. Desert Dream is doing nothing to change my mind, that's for sure. Beautiful photos of that big sky and rolling open landscape. Well worth taking a look at. You know, they say people that like the desert also like the sea. Hmm, I do like 'em both. Finally, many of the finest photos I've seen on the web have been on The Narrative. Simply amazing shots that always remind me not to quit my day job. Oh yeah, no day job. Anyway, stunning photographs. This is the rear entrance/exit of the house shown in the first two photos. I'm glad I decided to go out the way I came in, through the front door.

I took three shots in the bar/restaurant, and was really excited about them at the time. As happens so often, it seems, when they were developed they looked pretty weak. So, I won't bore you with them. The larger nightclub/restaurant on the corner looked really cool, but, in an admirable fit of self-preservation, I decided not to look for a way in. Driving by a week later, I noticed it had completely collapsed. Let's hear it for good judgment! Thus, as the sun sets behind the Savannah River, it's time to get back in the car and drive out of the Valley. On the way, we can stop at the Big H' Food Store and get some, uh, cigarettes. By the way, now that I have this scanner, I can scan in negatives at high resolution. So, if you see a photo you'd actually want to own for some reason, I can make nice enlargements for a couple bucks at Costco. Black and white should look really good. I'd be willing to trade, too. Just get in touch. Next time, it's back to downtown Augusta. Until then, take care.


G N Bassett said...

I'm tempted to do what you do, seek out the old and the abandoned. There's plenty of it around here (Florida is not all sunshine and bikinis).
I especially enjoy the regional nature of your blog, and I am committed to tracing down all the links you suggested.
On a different subject, if you open up the template on your blogspot control panel and set the page width slightly wider, you can bring your column (the one that drops to the bottom of the page) back up into place. If you are not familiar with templates, let me know and I'll send you the code.

Your faithful reader...

erica said...

thanks for the link. :) and, how exciting, to have a whole abandoned neighborhood!

Anonymous said...

Chingonas las fotos!


yosefaaulia said...

hey blogwalking, love your pictures :D

jmhouse said...

Thank you, yosefaaulia!