Hashtag Throwback Thursday takes famous photographs and uses them as a basis for an ongoing exploration and somewhat fictionalized account of my life growing up on the east side during the deindustrialization of Buffalo, New York.
Hashtag Throwback Thursday. Here I am on the east side of Buffalo, New York with my first girlfriend who lived a block away from me on Roebling avenue. I would walk the block to her house, yell her name, and she would come out. We would hold hands until they got sweaty and then we wouldn't. We would play tag. We would dance. This was before I knew anything about Emmett Till, or Trayvon Martin, or Michael Brown, Jr. This was before I knew about war or death. We were just riding bicycles and smiling. I remember once going back to that old neighborhood on a visit. This was when my mother was still alive. Several years ago. We drove slowly to the neighborhood through deep snow on side streets. We were pointing out houses where our old friends had once lived. She pointed out important houses of her past. They leaned into the wind or were boarded up, their paint peeling. We kind of floated through the neighborhood. I am sure that each of us were remembering lazy summer evenings. The adults sitting on lawn chairs in yards, drinking beer, and playing euchre while their children ran along perfectly clipped lawns shouting. She said, “that empty corner lot there used to be a clam stand. Your father and I used to go on dates there.” Where the clam stand once stood had become an abandoned lot. The lot in the snow became a white square with several scrub trees poking up out of it, but it was beautiful. We drove past the library and the decomissioned church to the main road, which had been plowed. We stopped at the intersection and paused, taking in the scene. The snow and the gloaming had obscured the decay of this forgotten part of the city. It looked like it did when I was young. It looked like it did when everything was easy and carefree and the only problems children had to deal with were the streetlights coming on and taking baths.