Over the past few weeks I’ve been pondering my past. More accurately, the past of my parents. Visiting with aunts who have a lot of stories to tell but are cautious in the telling, reading military records, looking at photos of family members. Photos that share when they were first meeting their future spouses and starting their families. Old black and white photos, posing in antique clothes with civil war guns or western wear, and color film from the 70’s and 80’s that does not survive as well as other processes yet hang on refrigerators, valued even in their fadedness.
Mayfield, Arkansas is just a spot in the road, its presence on the highway held by one old store that is no longer in business. Windows barred and doors locked, you can see through the bars piles of baby clothes and furniture, old display cases and rubbish strewn about. My memories of this spot in the road was of a center of activity, where one night we sat in a dark car, my mom and my siblings, waiting on something or someone. Sitting in the car in the dark, waiting, is so strongly entrenched in this spot that I have no doubt the memory belongs in front of this old store.
Another memory as a toddler resides in this building, of being passed from one dancer to another at the community dance–the feel of rough coats and close up views of whiskers and earrings. Further research will possibly reveal where exactly this memory resides, in the old store or the community building, but it is strongly entrenched in this small community.
Off Archibald Yell in Fayetteville, just below the old courthouse, one road forks sharply to the left on a curve and another goes straight down the hill off of the curve. It is this road that holds so many memories of my time living in Fayetteville as a small child. An old white garage, almost to Watson Park on the left, catches my attention and I stop and look inside. Didn’t Dad work here or at least hang around with people who worked here? Even the pull-in spot off the road feels exactly the same, and the stair step facade sparks such a strong recollection I am sure he was connected somehow.
Old buildings, deserted, and others still in commission looking exactly the same as when I was a kid, bring me to a sudden stop when I discover them and the memories they hold flash across my mind. I’m never sure what to do with those moments so I photograph them. I find myself searching for those buildings, not yet revealed, but waiting just around the next corner. Memories of a past that shaped my future, behind me but still present, waiting to reveal the mystery of their barred windows, dusty sills and faded facades.