I have many images of barns, so though this is just another barn, it has a history all its own. The murmurs and rustling of the animals, the voices of those who tended them. Even those of the builders of this barn I believe resonate still at a level we can’t quite here, but can feel.
Woolworth’s, once the staple of many a downtown and even the occasional mall, is now a thing of the past. The Boston Store, Filene’s, Jordan Marsh, Montgomery Ward, Bradley’s, Caldor, Denby, Ames, and an unknown number of local department stores that once stood proudly on main streets. Nothing is permanent, buildings are repurposed or the more recent ones torn down to put in some new big box vendor to spill hundreds of items into our homes. I will have to see what the main entrance side of this old store now is. It might be a nail salon, church or just be sitting empty. But once it was a place of hustle and bustle, where people could get nearly everything they needed. Maybe even for a nickel or a dime.
Beautiful, solid and empty. But what a story lies behind those walls. Every house has chapters that make up the story, if we are lucky there is a plaque that let’s us know what some that story has been.
Sunday we visited the Lexington/ Concord Massachusetts area. There were several old houses along our walk that sit in isolated locations, the road at a distance. Time capsules of a sort, neither in use nor out, their windows continue to watch the world go by. Only memories inhabit these houses, unless you believe in spirits or ghosts. How many tracks has the sun cut along these floors, sweeping across it and illuminating the dust motes. How many storms have battered the walls, cold drafts sneaking in to chill the ankles of those gathered around the fireplace. How many small feet pattered through the rooms, out the doors and on the stairs. While the building might not be old in comparison to castles and ancient dwellings, it is still part of a full, rich human history that is timeless.
Joe and I got out for a quick, wind driven walk on Sunday. It has been warm but for the wind chill recently, so our walks are brief. But brief is still okay as it gets us out. This particular day found us behind an old New England church and walking on an old, abandonded rail line. The line once connected the barrel making capital of the world to the ports on the coast. Barrel making capital, a lost industry that makes me pause to think about those bygone days. There is a romance to the image of a barrel being delivered, the excitement of the opening and unloading that can’t quite be captured by an Amazon box.
While visiting in the land of limited cell service, I stopped by this slice of days gone by. Had it been geographically correct it felt like maybe Laura Ingalls or Nellie Oleson might appear and start browsing the shelves. But what really caught my eye as I passed , was the vintage bike standing in the window. Once upon a time, not that long ago, this was a functioning store. Then it became an antiques store, now it sits quietly at a country intersection as the traffic flows passed. I don’t recall it ever being in use, but my mother does. Apparently the house behind it is where the proprietors lived. It is now empty, as is the one next to it. Though we did see a raccoon on the roof, so I guess unoccupied is a relative term. It can be hard to tell sometimes as people seem to walk out and close the door behind them, leaving personal belongings in place like some strange tableau. It can make it a bit unnerving to approach as I certainly have no desire to encounter a resident in what seemed to be an abandoned house! Often in these places, even when empty, there is a palpable feel of previous lives still being played out. Tread lightly, tread lightly.