I took a trip to the city the other day. A 50 mile drive in the warm, pleasant sunshine. Looking out the car windows was both fascinating and terribly depressing. So much of it I wanted to write about. Even take pictures, but we were in a car speeding along the freeway doing at least 60 mph. I did make numerous mental observations though.
For the first 10 miles or so there was a lot of open fields, corn stalks and apple/cherry orchards. Nothing out of the ordinary until I spotted the unmistakable outline of a deer lying among a small row of newly planted corn. It was surrounded by black things which I assumed were probably crows. As we got really close, I could see that they were actually chickens pecking away ferociously. I have never seen chickens eat deer before.
Soon, we turned onto the freeway and the scenery quickly changed. It was like going back in time. A lot of frozen relics from a different era. There was a dilapidated, right out of the 1950’s, faded yellow and brown building with a row of doors that had numbers on them. Nearby was a prominent neon sign with much of the glass broken, probably by kids with rocks over the years, hanging from a tall pole and the word: MOTEL. The L was upside down, swinging precariously in the breeze. I almost wanted to get a rock and see if I could hit that L and send it flying. The place reminded me of the notorious Bates Motel. I couldn’t help but imagine psycho Norman Bates hiding out in one of the rooms with a knife poised in midair, ready to start slashing at a shower curtain. I almost wished it was still in business. How much fun it would be to spend a night there. I probably wouldn’t take a shower, though.
We drove past miles and miles of empty warehouses and abandoned buildings, each with their own stories to tell. Some were nothing more than skeletal remains with rusted machinery poking out. I could almost hear the loud clanking and grinding of metal in my head. Depressing. So much of the death of America.
Next, I saw another relic from the past: a Drive-In movie theater. The screen was huge, covered with moss and creeping vines. I could see these posts scattered here and there that once had speakers on top of them. They are long gone now, having become collectors items and probably worth a little money today. The concession stand was still there. A small wooden building with all the paint peeled off of it. I remember the first time I ever went to see a drive-in movie. It was in another town. The Sound Of Music was playing. I was just a kid in the back of my uncle’s station wagon with my cousin Todd. We didn’t care for musicals, so we whispered and pointed and people watched until we fell asleep. Our stomachs full of popcorn and orange Crush. Ahh, those were the good ole days!
In the midst of this concrete jungle, I was surprised and delighted to see a small, brightly painted, white and orange house with a sign above it that said: Jesse’s Diner. Yes, it was open for business, though I can’t imagine how it survives smack dab in all that ruin and neglect. The neon sign in the window was flashing: OPEN. No broken glass. No letter hanging lop sided. It was a welcome sight. Perhaps, I’ll stop there next time. Maybe I’ll even write a post and tell you all about Jesse.