Small Town America

I’ve been on a sort of quest for the last couple of years to find and informally document small town America. It’s fun to listen to the breakfast conversations of strangers and to chat with the shop owner who knows the story behind the painting you’re buying.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the people I’ve met and places I’ve been and wonder how they are and how badly they’ve been impacted by the pandemic.

Many of the people I interact with on the road are diner waitresses and small business owners. They’re not wealthy in the first place and their businesses are dependent on tourists.

Unemployment is slow. Stimulus checks only go so far. I hope they’re ok and look forward to getting back out there on the road to meet more folks and leave a little money behind.

The picture above is from downtown Mansfield, Ohio. The diner is a local greasy spoon where the waitress automatically poured a drink for the elderly woman at the table next to mine. It’s nothing fancy but the service was good and the prices fair. I hope that elderly lady is ok too.

Across the street there’s a gorgeous carousel where kids of all ages can take a ride for just a buck. My own mother took her first carousel ride there last fall at the age of 67.

Across town is the Ohio State Reformatory, an old prison that caters to tourists who flock to where they filmed the movie Shawshank Redemption.

Small town America is filled with places and people just like those in Mansfield. All those jobs depend on visitors who can’t come right now. Lots of people like me are dying to get back out there for tours and rides and fun. Let’s hope they’re able to survive and open up again as soon as it’s safe.

Beauty: Broadening the Definition

Writing about Mansfield this week caused me to revisit pictures of the Ohio State Reformatory where the movie Shawshank Redemption was filmed. I already shared some pictures and the story of this visit but have tons of photos from this day.

I have a broad definition of what is beautiful. Frequent flyers of this blog will see pretty sunrise pictures and images of flowers, buildings and trails that have a traditional appeal to most people. But they also know that I tend to see beauty in things that others would consider common eyesores. I love an old truck in a field. The chipped paint of a tractor or a church that’s seen better days  are common subject matter as well.

My cousin Walter paid me the nicest compliment a while back. He sent me a picture on Facebook of an old barn and it said “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” I love that he noticed and that he sees it too.

An old prison isn’t a traditional place to find beauty but here are some pictures that I find appealing and hope you will too.

Sometimes it’s just the light or the lack of light that I find appealing.

002

00019

Sometimes it’s the color and texture. Look at those layers of paint, now chipping from the walls, and creating a unique kind of art work. Of course, it’s undoubtedly lead paint so try not to touch it!

00009

0009

Sometimes you can’t put your finger on the quality you like best. It’s just haunting and you know in your soul that it’s good for your eye to see.

007

008

Are you able to see beauty in the flawed or would you prefer to look the other way? There’s no correct answer to this question –  I won’t be offended if you don’t like this type of thing! It’s not for everyone and that’s ok. It doesn’t have to be.