Saturday, September 24, 2005

Okra canning plant, central Alabama, summer 2005.

Nikon FM, 50mm f/1.4 lens, Ilford XP-2 film.

On the way back from a recent motorcycle trip from Washington, D.C., down through Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, etc., I stopped several times at what I like to call "roadside detractions" -- the broken-down structures along roads that once served a purpose, whether utilitarian or simply interesting, but which now serve as an American version of ruins.

You don't have to go to Europe to find interesting ruins. They may be more grand there, but decrepitude spreads across the American continent just as much as anywhere else. And maybe even more so. This is such a center of planned obsolescence, where we construct buildings with the intent of letting them fall down when their usefulness decreases, that the roadsides are littered with abandoned structures.

I talked to an old man who lives next to this old canning facility. Said it used to employ many people from the surrounding countryside -- either in okra growing, in running the actual plant, or in other support services.

Now it's just a falling-down steel building filled with not much, surrounded by a community that mirrors the plant.


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