Bust or Boom?


The Chevy was born in 1955 and passed away sometime around 1972. This, I surmised, from a faded registration sticker on its license plate. The car rests as a chalky-pink centerpiece to the deteriorating remains of a farmstead. The farmhouse, up a brush-covered hill to the right, now houses only birds, rodents, and the empty beer cans of trespassers. A barn and concrete silo pass time to the left. The barn's last official resident was likely led from its stall during the Nixon Presidency. Now animals, small and large, can enter and leave at will through holes created where barn boards were removed or tugged to the ground by gravity after rotting for generations on the shady side of the barn.


Another building has traded its early 20th-century charm for early 21st-century character. The aged exterior and weakening bones signal a quiet end to its long life. It may have been home to the adult offspring of the farmer who extracted his living from the rolling hills, and who lived atop a hill himself in the farmhouse beyond the buckthorn.

What caused the decline and abandonment? Why would a person – perhaps an entire family – leave all of this for nature and the curious camera of a motorcyclist exploring back roads? The immediate assumption is family tragedy or financial hardship. But maybe it was sudden prosperity that thrust these buildings into decline. Maybe they were left standing after a windfall justified the construction of a new home and barn nearby, designed and sized for the times. I'm sure the neighbor could tell me, if I were to navigate the winding stream of blacktop that flows to their Navajo Beige split level. But the unexpected appearance of a stranger at their forest green steel door, particularly one dressed in dark, armored motorcycle clothing, would be met with a partially opened door and an inquisitive stare. And there is romance in not knowing.