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The Bleak Playground

I think my dad’s family moved to Mobeetie in the early 1930s; the bank my grandfather had in Branson, Colorado, didn’t survive the Depression so they came to Texas to make a new start. My dad lived there until he and eleven other students made up the graduating class of 1940. He was 16 when he graduated, and he headed off to what was then known as Texas Technological College. (He went from a town of 400 people to a college with an enrollment of just under 3,800. No wonder he flunked out.*)

I don’t really think this playground equipment was there when he was, but I did get a bit of a weird vibe from it. Of course, that might also have been from the cold wind that day…

Old Mobeetie, Texas
photographed 12.27.2019

*Not to worry, though. He retuned to college and made straight As in his chosen field of civil engineering. The most frequently told story of my whole life was How I Was Too Young When I Went To College.

Ghost Slide

The difference between this abandoned school and all the other ones I’ve shot is that the Patient Spouse attended two years of elementary school here, which made the desolation a little more depressing.

But those two slides, barely holding their own against the onslaughts of time and weeds, turn a sad place into a creepy one…

Danbury, Nebraska
photographed 8.26.2018

The user, typically a child

 

On an overcast morning, a well-used and well-polished slide caught my photographer’s eye. I won’t tell you how many kids I had to chase away so I could get this shot.

Oh, you know what? Yes, I will tell you: none. There were only two kids at the park, and they were someplace else.

Ruddick Park
Colorado City, Texas
photographed 3.17.2018

February 18

Say you are on a trip. In Missouri. With no real destination other than generally getting from St. Louis to Kansas City. And say you happen to notice on the map (because you are like that, preferring actual, paper maps over a GPS) a town called Frankenstein.

Of course you have to go!

And say, on your way through Frankenstein, you notice a big church (Our Lady, Help of Christians, as it turns out) with a playground and a graveyard beside it. You have to stop.

And, because you saw the town on the map and the church in the town, you also saw this: a caretaker’s hut, built of brick to match the church, with a white door held closed by a board.

It was a great trip.

Frankenstein, Missouri

photographed 6.2006

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