In 2008, I surveyed the Michigan Road from end to end, documenting the road and its built environment. Here is an installment of that trip report. While this article refers exclusively to the Michigan Road, another historic highway, the Lincoln Highway, was routed along this portion of the Michigan Road.
At Michigan Street and La Salle Avenue in South Bend, the Michigan Road hangs a hard left. Where it had always been a north-south road, here it becomes an east-west road. It also ceases to be the Dixie Highway and becomes the Lincoln Highway. This is westbound La Salle Avenue.
Shortly, La Salle Ave. curves and becomes Lincolnway West. Before the Lincoln Highway came in 1913, however, this road was called Michigan Avenue.
This little building on La Salle Ave. was the South Bend Hat Bleachery in the 1930s and a women’s clothing shop into the 1970s, I’m told.
While the road is signed “Lincoln Way” today, until recently it was signed “Lincolnway,” and many businesses adopted that spelling. This building, at the corner of Cushing St., was once an A&P grocery at which both my father’s and mother’s families shopped. Today, it is Lincolnway Foods.
Rather, it was Lincolnway Foods. It burned to the ground a few days after I took the previous shot.
Lincolnway passes through an old part of South Bend, with many of its brick streets still intact. This is Cushing St. Of all the brick streets I’ve driven on, South Bend’s are the rumbliest.
The imposing Oliver School is today the Colfax Cultural Center, which houses space for artists, performers, and related businesses. This is what it looks like as you drive toward it on Lincolnway.
Many older homes stand along the road here.
This is the Elizabeth Memorial Church of God in Christ, but I suspect that this building housed another congregation previously.
A former service station along Lincolnway.
This is the westbound road. Notice the “SUPRKET” sign on the storefront on the left. When I was a kid, that sign read “SUPERMARKET.” Somewhere along the line it lost its ERMA.
From the air, this recording studio building looks like a guitar pick.
This neat little apartment building was named after the Lincoln Highway.
This monstrosity was once the Hoosier Brewery.
Kreamo Bread was once a South Bend bakery, and its headquarters are on the Michigan Road (and the Lincoln Highway).
The 1911 Epworth Memorial United Methodist Church, hidden behind trees. I’d have better luck taking photos in the winter, when the leaves are down.
The Lincolnwood Motel.
The South Bend Regional Airport needed to extend its runway a few years ago, and to do so it took out part of the Michigan Road’s original route. This shows the road curving slightly south around the new runway, but originally it went straight through here.
Google Maps’ imagery isn’t up to date. It still shows the Michigan Road on its original route. The road markings show the current route, though, on which there are two roundabouts. (Since then, the new Lincolnway West route was extended even further, bypassing another 2,000 feet or so of the original Michigan Road. While the section of the Michigan Road east of Mayflower Road no longer exists, you can still drive the section west of Mayflower. It dead ends whre the new Lincolnway West curves back around to resume its original path.)
I took this westbound photo from where the road curves away from its original route. You can see the road pick up on the other side of the airport.
This eastbound photo is from the west side of the airport. If you view this at full size and squint, you can see the stoplights at Sheridan St. glowing red. The road in the middle of the photo is the original Michigan Road path, left behind in the runway expansion.
Here is where travelers curve back onto the road’s original path on the west side of the airport. (Today, this is the section of Michigan Road I mentioned before that dead ends.)
The road becomes US 20 outside of South Bend. Just beyond the city limits stands the Kenrose Motel, which didn’t appear to be very busy this day.
The Michigan Road narrows to two lanes as soon as it leaves South Bend.
The road passes through the Terre Coupee prairie on its way to New Carlisle. I’m told this building was once a school and later a store.
The Michigan Road next comes to New Carlisle.
Notice how the road curves wide on the east side of town. Until 1926, the road ran straight here, crossing the railroad tracks at an awkward and dangerous angle that was the scene of many accidents. Four tracks crossed the road here then, two owned by the New York Central Railroad; one by the Chicago, South Bend, and Northern Indiana Railway; and one by the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad. The tracks were even at different levels, the interurban tracks a few feet lower than the New York Central tracks, making the crossing even more challenging. This drawing, courtesy Rob Heinek, shows the original configuration of the tracks. The road’s original path is shown with red dotted lines. Heinek also provided the story of the viaduct I’ve shared here.
Negotiations with the railroads to build a viaduct and reroute the road for safer passage dragged on for several years but kicked into high gear when New Carlisle passed an ordinance limiting trains to eight miles per hour. The terms worked out, a viaduct was built and the road curved. A retaining wall on the southernmost curve touts New Carlisle’s virtues today.
Here’s what it’s like to enter New Carlisle under the viaduct.
This eastbound photo shows the road as the curve returns to the road’s original path. The driveway that begins where the road curves is the original road.
On the edge of downtown New Carlisle, this mural of the town from about 1941 is painted onto a building.
Here’s the same scene in modern times.
Downtown New Carlisle makes a hodgepodge of its buildings, which seems typical of towns of this age and size.
New Carlisle is better cared for than many other Michigan Road towns of its size, however.
A longtime bank building, today a Wells Fargo branch. Somehow, I doubt the drive-through is original to the building.
I find it interesting how these two mirror-image buildings ended up differently decorated.
The only reason I’m including this photo is because I happened to go to public school with this podiatrist, and I haven’t seen her in over 20 years. I was surprised to see her name again after so long.
New Carlisle is rich with older homes.
The sign says, “God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts.”
Another older home along the way in New Carlisle.
The road’s name tips its hat to its heritage. Richard Carlisle founded New Carlisle in 1837 along the road.
New Carlisle’s park.
Outside New Carlisle, on the border with La Porte County, stands the 1863 New Carlisle Cemetery.
Next: The Michigan Road in La Porte County – and the end of the Michigan Road.
In 2008, I surveyed the Michigan Road from end to end, documenting the road and its built environment. Here is an installment of that trip report. While this article refers exclusively to the Michigan Road, another historic highway, the Dixie Highway, was routed along this portion of the Michigan Road.
Since I made this survey, a new-terrain US 31was built between South Bend and Plymouth. In St. Joseph County, the Michigan Road remains intact except for a slight detour on the south side of South Bend. What I call US 31 in this article is now Old US 31, and is signed as State Road 931.
Lakeville is on the Michigan Road in southern St. Joseph County. It and La Paz (just to the south in Marshall County) have always struck me as twin sisters, towns of similar size one right after the other along the road. Where La Paz is bounded by US 6 on the south, Lakeville is bounded by State Road 4 on the north. As La Paz is a railroad town, so once was Lakeville, but several years ago Lakeville’s tracks were removed. You can’t tell from the road that tracks were ever there. This map shows how the Michigan Road swings around Pleasant Lake and into Lakeville from the south.
It’s hard to make out on the map above, but the Michigan Road’s original path diverges briefly from US 31 as it passes Pleasant Lake. The northernmost tip of this original alignment probably passed behind what is now a shopping strip north of US 31 (see the upper right corner of this map) and curved into current US 31.
Here’s the south end of Quinn Trail.
Just north of where Quinn Trail begins, this house appears on a bluff overlooking the road.
This northbound shot shows the road from in front of this house.
Quinn Trail carried US 31 until that highway was expanded to four lanes in northern Indiana. It’s not clear to me why Quinn Trail was left behind; it seems like it would have been possible to expand this road to four lanes. A small bridge built on what is now Quinn Trail seems to have anticipated a wider US 31 – as the map excerpt below shows, it could carry four lanes of traffic, albeit with no shoulder.
Here’s Quinn Trail’s northern end.
Lakeville was named after the two small lakes that stand near it. It was deliberately founded along the Michigan Road to take advantage of all its benefits, but I haven’t been able to learn exactly when. The town did all right because of the road, but really took off when railroads intersected it. Lakeville is lined with homes; this one is typical.
This was once Lakeville’s Mobil station.
This is probably the nicest old house on the road in Lakeville. It’s an apparel and gift store today.
This southbound shot of the east side of the road is north of Lakeville’s business district.
I think that this postcard, postmarked 1911, was taken in about the same spot. I figured I’d have no trouble finding this scene in modern Lakeville, but it turned out to be quite challenging. I think that the third house from the left in the postcard is the same one as the third house from the left in the photo above. Notice how wide this dirt road is. The Michigan Road was built with a 100-foot right-of-way.
I marvel at how there is no sign that there were ever tracks on Lakeville’s north side. This photo is taken from where the road once passed over the tracks.
From about the same spot, here’s the southbound road as it leads into Lakeville.
And here’s the northbound road as it leads out of Lakeville. The Lakeville United Methodist Church is behind the trees on the right.
The Lakeville Cemetery, established 1849, is actually north of Lakeville.
This building was once a school. It most recently housed an outlet of the Country Bake Shop, but even that has been closed for probably 20 years.
In case you can’t read it: “Pleasant View School, Dist No 2, 1902.”
This is the Michigan Road as it enters South Bend. I’ll bet that the original Michigan Road builders’ minds would be blown if they could see what the road has become here.
Here’s the road as it approaches the St. Joseph Valley Parkway, which carries US 31 around the west side of South Bend. (Since I made this trip in 2008, a new-terrain US 31 was built between South Bend and Plymouth. The northern end of the new US 31 meets the old US 31 at about where the 31 shield is at the center of the map below. It is no longer possible to drive old US 31, the Michigan Road, through into South Bend, as it dead ends where the new US 31 merges in. To enter South Bend on the Michigan Road, you must turn left onto Kern and take the exit onto northbound US 31.)
An interesting old house just south of the city limits.
Southlawn Cemetery, which has been here since 1836, appears at the very bottom of the map above.
People from South Bend can joke that they live in extreme southern Michigan. Originally, Indiana’s northern boundary was even with the southern tip of Lake Michigan. What is now Johnson Road in South Bend was originally along that boundary line.
This southbound shot from north of the St. Joseph Valley Parkway shows the onramps to that road. South Benders have called this road “the bypass” for as long as I can remember. When I lived here, the bypass didn’t go any farther east than this. Even though US 31 has not gone through South Bend in decades, people still call the road through town “31.”
The first white man to set foot in St. Joseph County and what would become South Bend was French explorer Robert de La Salle in 1679. The first white man to settle St. Joseph County was Pierre Navarre, who came in 1820 and built a home north of the St. Joseph River near what is now downtown South Bend. In 1823, Alexis Coquillard (co-QUILL-erd) began trading furs near where La Salle landed. The area was first known as St. Joseph’s, and in 1829 a town named Southold was founded here. Navarre and Coquillard were the driving forces behind the town’s early development. The town’s name became South Bend in 1830. In 1831, South Bend was named the seat of the newly formed St. Joseph County, and in 1835 was incorporated as a town. South Bend is said to have lobbied hard to have the Michigan Road routed through town. With the river, the Michigan Road, and the railroad’s 1851 arrival, the stage was set for South Bend to boom, and it did. Manufacturing companies blossomed in the fledgling town, which became a city in 1865.
This map shows the Michigan Road’s route through town. It heads north on Michigan St., and then makes its big left turn and heads out of town on Lincoln Way West.
I took this in-car photo just south of Chippewa Ave., where Michigan St. becomes one way north all the way to downtown. There’s no way to drive the Michigan Road south from downtown to Chippewa Ave.; you have to drive Main St. instead, one block west. (This is no longer true. Since 2017, both Michigan and Main Streets carry two-way traffic from here to downtown.)
North of where Michigan St. becomes one way north stands the South Bend Motel.
The South Bend Motel’s great neon sign.
This northbound shot shows the one-way Michigan Road on South Bend’s south side. I grew up four blocks east of here; these are my old stomping grounds.
This used to be Cira’s Supermarket, which had all of five aisles but a well-regarded meat department. I rode my bike down here for a gallon of milk more times than I could ever count.
I never got my hair cut here, but I rode my bike past this barber shop and its little pole all the time. It’s about a half block north of Cira’s.
South Bend is full of non-standard highway shields. I’ve counted three shields with this funky shield shape and blocky typeface. Sign fans will also notice the single “Business North” sign, when the standard is to have separate signs. I’m pretty sure the Business North sign was hand painted. A lot of road signs were hand painted in South Bend during my 1970s-80s childhood there.
This building about a mile north on Michigan St. just south of Indiana Ave. used to be a Bonnie Doon drive-in. Imagine a day when the locked gate was gone, the sign’s first two parts still read “Bonnie” and “Doon,” and you could get a great tenderloin and wonderful made-in-South-Bend ice cream here. At one time, Bonnie Doon locations dotted Michiana. I think only one Bonnie Doon, on the Lincoln Highway in neighboring Mishawaka, remains.
Two restaurants, the Kitchenette and the Kitchenette II, stand on the northeast corner of Ewing Ave. The neon Eat sign still lights up every night.
North of Ewing, it becomes clear that South Bend’s south side has seen happier days.
This little market seems to be doing all right.
This appears to be a 1930s service station with a 1960s overhang tacked on.
Michigan St. was once rich with homes and neighborhoods on the south side, but over time most of the homes have been razed. Here are some survivors.
More decay on the south side.
This northbound photo was taken just south of Sample St.
Here’s a closer look at some of the signs in the previous photo. Notice how some of the signs are fading badly. The “Stadium A&C Center” sign is easily 40 years old. The Indiana 933 sign was ungracefully tacked over a US 33 sign. US 33 once ran through South Bend on its way to St. Joseph, Michigan, but since 1998 has ended on the western outskirts of Elkhart. Old US 33 in St. Joseph County is now State Road 933.
I made a road trip along this corridor once before when I explored US 31’s original path in northern Indiana. (See my report on South Bend from that trip here). A fellow e-mailed me to say that he used to live in a neighborhood that used to stand here. It made way for The Frederick Juvenile Justice Center.
This imposing structure, the Christ Temple Church of God in Christ, was originally the First Brethren Church. The house is attached.
Nearer to downtown, entire blocks have been razed. The near south side could be turning into an urban prairie!
I have heard that this block was in danger of being razed. (As of 2022, it’s still there, and stil boarded up.)
The South Bend State Bank has been gone for longer than I’ve been alive, but its building remains.
Signs of life begin to appear again immediately south of downtown. The Victory Bar has some great signage. (Sadly, the Victory Bar has since closed, and its great signage was removed.)
The UAW meets here.
The St. Andrews Greek Orthodox Church.
At Bronson St., the railroad is overhead. An Amtrak train happened by when I was here.
This imposing building with its prominent fire escape stands right by the tracks.
Here’s a view under the tracks. Bronson St. actually meets Michigan St. here.
Last time I drove by here, this great neon sign was gone.
This corner has never been in great shape in my lifetime, but when I moved away from here in 1985 it still contained viable businesses. Today, except for an auto repair shop on the southeast corner, all of the buildings at this intersection are vacant. This is the southwest corner. Even though Fat Daddy’s was by no means the original tenant of this building, this is known as the Fat Daddy’s Block. (This block has since been razed.)
This is the northwest corner, which used to house Whitmer-McNease Music and a news stand.
I’m relying entirely on memory of my 12th-grade social studies class for the story I’m about to tell, because my research has found no facts. The teacher was also a county-city councilman, so I think his his story was sound.
The Associates was a national investment company founded and headquartered in South Bend. In the wake of Studebaker’s failure, the company wanted to build a new headquarters and revitalize downtown at the same time. To build the new downtown Superblock, as it was called, several downtown buildings were demolished. Until that time, US 31 followed Michigan St. through downtown. The Superblock project rerouted US 31. Main St. was made one way south, and southbound US 31 was routed onto it. Michigan St. was made one way north, and northbound US 31 was routed onto it, except for several blocks downtown, where it was routed one block east to St. Joseph St. Michigan St. between Western Ave. and LaSalle Ave. was closed to traffic and made into a pedestrian-only “mall” called River Bend Plaza. This map shows how it works:
Then in 1975, The Associates relocated to Chicago, leaving the project a shambles. The city became known for the holes in the ground where proud buildings, some historic, once had stood. The pedestrian mall succeeded only in making it necessary to park farther from downtown businesses, creating a needless barrier for customers. South Bend’s first enclosed shopping mall was built at about the same time, on the far south side, and shoppers went there instead. It took South Bend 15 years to rebuild downtown after that.
This photo shows where Michigan St. starts to curve away onto St. Joseph St. Michigan St. has since been repaved and opened to traffic, as you can see near the center of the photo.
To follow the Michigan Road, turn left onto Western Ave. and then immediately right onto Michigan St., where you are greeted with this scene. As someone who grew up with that awful pedestrian mall, it is very gratifying to see all the cars here.
This early 1950s postcard is from about the same place.
This image from a postcard postmarked 1906 is from about the same spot. South Bend has changed a great deal in the past century!
Check out the old State Theater marquee in the 1950s postcard photo. The one below is the only one I’ve known. I saw my first movie at the State, a rerelease of Bambi, sometime in the early 1970s.
Here’s a long shot of the State.
South Bend still bears some evidence of its disastrous urban renewal period, as this block north of Jefferson Blvd. shows.
This image from a postcard postmarked 1909 shows the road northbound from Jefferson Blvd. as it once was.
The First Source Bank and Marriott Hotel building at Washington St. filled one of the last downtown holes in South Bend. When I was a kid, this lot was a popular place for people to watch the annual July 4th fireworks.
This grand 1921 building was originally a vaudeville theater called the Palace but is now the Morris Performing Arts Center. This real gem has been extensively restored. I’ve been in it twice, before and after the restoration, and all I can say is that an amazing, painstaking, and loving job was done. The theater’s story is here.
The block of Michigan St. in front of the Morris is only one lane wide and not used for traffic. To follow the Michigan Road, you must detour. One way is to turn left onto Colfax, go two blocks west to Lafayette Blvd., go north for one block, and then turn left onto LaSalle Ave., where you’ll resume the Michigan Road route.
The former La Salle Hotel stands where St. Joseph St. merges back into the Michigan Road’s original path. But to keep following the Michigan Road, you turn left around the hotel onto La Salle Avenue.
Here, the Michigan Road ceases to be the Dixie Highway and becomes the Lincoln Highway, running east-west rather than north-south.
Next: The Michigan Road and the Lincoln Highway in St. Joseph County.
I’ve documented Indiana’s historic Michigan Road extensively. To read all about it, click here.
The stash of Kodak Plus-X I bought a few months ago came with a few rolls of 20-years-expired Kodak Tri-X too. Now that I develop and scan my black-and-white film at home, I avoid Tri-X because it curls and is hard to lay into my scanner’s negative holder. Ilford HP5 Plus offers a similar look but lays flat, so I use it instead. But I’ve got these rolls, and I might as well use them. I brought one along with my Olympus XA on a trip my wife and I made in April to South Bend.
We stayed one night, in a room in the DoubleTree downtown. This hotel is connected to the headquarters of First Source Bank by a huge glass atrium.
The hotel and bank buildings were built in the early 1980s. From then until a few years ago, the hotel was a Marriott, and I will probably always think of it with that name. Here the atrium connects to the First Source Bank building.
This is the East Race of the St. Joseph River, taken from LaSalle Street looking south. The river’s main channel is about a thousand feet west of here. In the ’80s, you could kayak down the East Race. I did it once and it was a lot of fun.
This is the Jefferson Boulevard bridge, one of my favorite South Bend subjects. This concrete bridge is of a Melan arch design, which is a way of reinforcing concrete with giant curved steel ribs.
Here’s the bridge from the other side of the river, in Howard Park. I’ve always thought of downtown South Bend being west of the river. But the Howard Park neighborhood has revitalized over the last several years, with shops and bars and restaurants opening. Downtown is now on both sides of the river.
Howard Park borders the east shore of the St. Joseph River. This sidewalk and railing have been there for more than 100 years.
Looking the other direction, the walkway leads to this former railroad bridge that carries pedestrians today.
Here’s the view from that bridge.
Looking south downriver, we saw these rowers. We guessed that they were a team from Notre Dame. This would have been a great moment to have a zoom lens!
This film had always been stored frozen, so I treated it as if it were fresh, shooting it at box speed and developing it normally (in HC-110, Dilution B). I notice a little loss of detail in the shadows, however, which suggests that the film may have degraded a little. Perhaps I’ll shoot the next roll at EI 200 and develop it normally and see if I get better shadow detail.
I’m continuing to inventory Michigan Road Historic Byway signs all along the route, looking for missing ones so they can be replaced. A recent day off work saw me inventorying signs between Indianapolis and South Bend. I brought my Nikon Df along, with the cheap and cheerful 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 AF Nikkor lens attached. I shot the Df on a photowalk in downtown South Bend.
Here’s the Morris Performing Arts Center, originally known as the Palace Theater. The light was odd this late-winter afternoon — thinly overcast and moderately bright. I wasn’t wowed with how the Df handled this light. I punched all of these images up in Photoshop, including adding about a half stop of exposure to each.
The Palace opened in 1922, and so the Morris is celebrating the venue’s 100th anniversary this year. I shoot straight JPEG in the Df. It has a RAW mode, but I haven’t tried it yet.
Here’s a detail shot of the Palace’s terra cotta. We’re fortunate to still have the Palace. Another theater, the Granada, used to stand across the street but met the wrecking ball about 50 years ago. It was equally grand.
The Palace could easily have met the State’s fate, too. It’s down Michigan Street a couple of blocks. It’s vacant and has received minimal maintenance over the years. The state of its wonderful sign breaks my heart. I saw my first movie in the State, a reissue of Disney’s Bambi. I remember well when this sign used to light up at night, and it is a glorious sight.
I stepped way back and made a photo of the whole building from the front. I had to tilt the camera up to fit it all in. Photoshop’s perspective correction tool set it right. The 28-80 lens was a kit lens on countless late-film-era Nikon SLRs, but it’s a solid performer and lets me pull large buildings like this into the frame.
The State may be closed, but one business continues to operate out of one of its storefronts. I slung the Df over my shoulder for this walk. You notice this camera when you carry it — it’s larger than, and almost as heavy as, a Nikon F2.
I walked a little bit down Colfax Avenue to pass by The Griffon, a longtime bookstore for nerds and gamers. (I’m definitely a nerd, so I can say that.) I used to go in here sometimes when I lived in South Bend in the early 1980s. I’m thrilled to see it still operating, and I’m even more thrilled to see its facade in such great condition.
I walked a bit down Main Street, which isn’t actually South Bend’s main street (Michigan Street is). This is Fiddler’s Hearth, a longtime Irish pub.
I needed to use perspective correction in Photoshop to set the St. Joseph County Courthouse square. I think it’s a little overcorrected. At least I could get the whole building in the frame at 28mm.
I stepped down Jefferson Boulevard to recreate a photo I made in 1985. Let’s just say my photo skills weren’t that sharp then.
Here’s my original photo, from 1985, shot on film of course because we didn’t have digital yet.
One last photo. Michigan Road signs only recently went up in South Bend, along with Lincoln Highway signs. The Michigan Road and the Lincoln Highway share the route west from downtown South Bend for about 18 miles.
I am pleased to own my Nikon Df, but I don’t use it nearly as much as I thought I would. One reason is its large size. I hesitate before taking it along for the ride. This was my first ever road trip with the Df! It performed adequately as a road-trip companion. But frankly, my Canon PowerShot S95 is an easier companion because it fits in the palm of my hand.
Naturally, the Df’s full-frame sensor is going to beat the S95’s 1/1.7-inch sensor every day of the week. The Df also benefits from about seven years of digital imaging advances over the S95. The Df is hardly the latest and greatest, however — even though I bought mine new last year, the camera was introduced in 2013. Its 16.2-megapixel sensor attests to it being from that era of DSLR.
Even after a year, I’m still getting to know my Nikon Df. I’m not unhappy with it, but I’m not fully in love like I thought I would be. Because it was so touted, and so bloody expensive, perhaps my expectations of it have been too high. I am in love with my Canon S95, but I believe my expectations of it have always been in line with its reality.
I first shared this story on 14 September 2008, and have shared it three other times since. I also shared it in my book, A Place to Start — click here to learn more.
During my 1970s kidhood when schools started after Labor Day as God intended, my mid-August birthday always meant summer was beginning to end. By then, the afternoon sun was at its hottest and most intense, the annual August dry spell began to toughen and dry all that had been green, and the street lights switched on earlier to send everyone inside for long quiet evenings with our families and our TVs.
The dozens of children all up and down Rabbit Hill, as our parents nicknamed our prolific neighborhood, always sensed these changes. We squeezed in as much play as we could before time ran out. One fellow down the street, thinking he was Mickey Rooney in Babes in Arms, always organized and directed an end-of-summer show, an extravaganza that nobody would come and watch because everybody was in it. I would push to reach the new tree-climbing heights my brother and his best friend had mastered weeks before, heightening their schadenfreude when I would inevitably fall, have the wind knocked out of me, and make that loud but hilarious sucking noise that only sounds like death is imminent. Somebody would connive their mother into have a big running-through-the-sprinkler get-together at which gallons of Kool-Aid were served. Several kids sold lemonade or toys at a family garage sale to raise money for Jerry’s Kids. The chubby fellow who lived where the street curved sang his slightly naughty rhymes more often (“In 1944/My father went to the war/He stepped on the gas/And blew out his ass/In 1944!”). And then the Jerry Lewis telethon was on everybody’s TV. It was Labor Day weekend, and we all knew it was over.
On the day after school started, we could still play war in full army gear in the wide easement behind the houses, ride our bikes and Big Wheels up and down the hill making siren sounds as if we were a horde of ambulances and police cars (imagine 20 children doing this on your street!), play endless Red Rover in the freckled girl’s front yard, and watch the four-year-old girl next door eat sand with a spoon (oh, if her mom only knew). But we didn’t, hardly. We lost our enthusiasm. It was time to button ourselves back down and return to school-day routines.
Rabbit Hill conditioned me well; I still recognize and lament the signs of summer’s end. Kids have been back in school for weeks already. The grass hasn’t grown much lately because of the annual dry spell. My air conditioner has been off more days than it’s been on; it was too chilly the other morning to drive to work with the window down. I’ve crammed as much outside time as I can into these days to enjoy their freedom, but the end is in sight. Shorts will soon give way to long pants and short sleeves will give way to long sleeves. I’ll be in a windbreaker with a rake in my hands, collecting my trees’ deposits. The snow will fly and I’ll be hunkered down at home.
I still feel restricted, buttoned down, in fall and winter. Here’s hoping for a long, warm Indian summer first!
Do you enjoy my stories and essays? My book, A Place to Start, is available now! Click here to see all the places you can get it!
The Morris Performing Arts Center Kodak EasyShare Z730 2007
I don’t know which of my photographs are good, but I do know which ones please me. This one pleases me for its bold colors, especially the blue sky and the red awnings on the building. I also like its composition, with the corner of the building roughly on the left vertical 1/3 line. I wish that stoplight wasn’t intruding from the right. I remember well, even though I made this photo 14 years ago, that I couldn’t find a pleasing angle on the building that also eliminated that stoplight.
For years, I’ve placed into this Flickr album the photos that please me most. Now I’m beginning to print them and put them in an archival box. I’ve wanted to do this for years, but as is typical with me I put it off thinking I lacked the time. Margaret bought me a nice box at Father’s Day, which nudged me to start.
I’m printing these photos on 8×10 paper without cropping them from their original aspect ratios. I’m uploading the digital files to Costco, which doesn’t have a native way to do what I want. So I’m editing each file in Photoshop first, adding white space around each image to expand it to the 4×5 aspect ratio. Costco prints them that way just fine, on Fuji Crystal Archive paper with what they call a “lustre” finish, which seems to be another way of saying “matte.”
I bought some acid-free interleaving paper from B&H to place between each photograph in the box. I also bought some Stabilo All pencils from Amazon so I could write key details on the back, the same details I write under each photo in this “single frame” series. A regular #2 pencil doesn’t leave a good mark on the photo paper, but the Stabilo All pencil does.