Yes, eventually they will all be gone: these old farmhouses are doomed. Sometimes you can tell where a house used to be – the elms or cedars may be still alive or not yet so dead that they’ve fallen over.
Other times, though, the house will disappear without a trace. That happened to two houses on my drive to work (if I take the route that goes on a farm road). When I started this job two years ago, there were a pair of houses at a crossroads; one house was already vacant, and I watched the broken window glass shredding the curtains.
The other one had inhabitants. Sometimes in the winter I could see a blue glow inside, like the people who lived there were watching television. One day, a car from a home health agency passed me on the road; it was going very fast. Then I saw it parked at the house, on the hard-packed dirt yard at an angle like they’d parked in a hurry. It was only a few months after that when the house started to take on the look of a vacant place – an unlatched screen door banging in the wind, broken stuff piling up in front, no more home health cars parked there. And no television-glow from inside.
One of the houses got pushed over by a yellow bulldozer, and the pieces hauled away. In a matter of two days, it was like it had never even been there at all. The other one, the home-health house, was eventually vacant and then got pushed down and burned. The smoldering pieces were shoved into a hole which smoked for a few days. Then it all got covered over with dirt.
Now that I’ve written all this down, it’s starting to seem like maybe I have an obsession with these old places. And maybe I do. I could certainly obsess over worse things.
But anyway, one of these days, my travels will take me on this particular road, and later, when I get up to the main highway, maybe I’ll remember that I didn’t see this old place a few miles back, leaning into the wind.
Crosby County, Texas
You guys know that I love to photograph through windows, so there’s no surprise with this shot of the inside of the Acuff Steak House, with the tables set and ready for the Friday night catfish buffet. (Don’t overthink it, and get bogged down in the disconnect between the name of the place and the Friday night menu.)
On a side note, the very first photo I ever got into a show was the Acuff Steak House, which somehow made it into the annual High and Dry show at Texas Tech University. Apparently I was deep into my heavy-handed Photoshop phase in 2010:
photographed 8.3.2018, and sometime in 2010
A drive-without-a-destination the other day took me past the Acuff Steak House, a locally-famous place about 20 miles from home.
There’s no website, no online menu to refer you to, nothing about its history. There IS a single Yelp review, though, which you can glance at if you want.
Anyway, it was closed when I was there, but would shortly reopen for the Friday night catfish supper. The heat lamps were ready, the plates were stacked up, and it was just a matter of time until catfish lovers from far and wide began to descend on the place for their buffet meal. (I guess. I didn’t stay.)
Acuff Steak House
Here it is! Finally! The swing set I drove down to look at after I’d spotted it on Google maps. To be honest, this shot’s probably not worth the build-up that I gave it here on the blog, but still, I saw what I came to see. Mostly. Google led me to believe there were three swings, but only two of them were there for my arrival. No word on what happened to that last one.
And you know how the grass under well-used swings always gets worn down to the dirt? None of that was going on here; it was dry, dead grass all the way across.