Monday, May 30, 2011

It's Unofficially Summer!

Happy Memorial Day from the Backside Gang:

Top Dog

(Photo by David Burke, Portland, CT, late '90s)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Junkyard Blues

From Dave Brigham:

Today is the Indy 500. I'm not a racing fan, but I did take a spin around the famed Indianapolis track in a bus back in 1988. We don't have any stock car photos or anything related to the big event here at the Backside. But I did stumble across this video of various junkyard shots, accompanied by a really nice backwoods country music soundtrack by Jerry Reed.

Call it an ironic tribute to the Indy 500, but it's a tribute nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Salton Sea

From Joe Viger:

California's largest lake is surrounded by desert in the Imperial Valley. The Salton Sea is also one of the largest inland seas in the world, covering about 375 square miles, and one of the lowest points on earth at 227 feet below sea level.

It was formed by accident from 1905 to 1907 when the Colorado River burst at its seams and flooded the low-lying plain. The Sea has virtually no outlflow and is fed by rivers that wind through the farming communities of the valley. The result was in the 1970's the water developed a remarkably high saline content, approaching 4.4%. The only fish that can thrive in that environment are tilapia. Dried salt covers the shoreline and everything near. Floods are common.

Salton Sea-125.jpg

Red Hill, CA

The Salton Sea has been a story of boom to bust that directly parallels the story of the environment here. Just 40 miles south of Palm Springs, it became known as the Salton Rivera and was a playground for celebrities. Jerry Lewis and the Marx brothers were regulars in the 1950's and '60's. Yacht clubs, beaches and vacation homes were developed. Sonny Bono learned to waterski here and National Wildlife Refuge properties on the lake bear his name.

Today, things are a little different. The communities around the Salton Sea are littered with abandoned buildings. Some have been flooded and all show the amazing effects of water, salt, neglect and time.

The Salton Sea is truly one of the strangest places I have ever been. The water is a color difficult to compare to anything else. The salt-fringed shore gives things an otherworldly look. People continue to live there. It is common to see a well-kept trailer with a car and a dune buggy in the drive circled in chain link fence and all the neighboring properties are abandoned, torn apart and covered in graffiti.

There is hope to redevelop the area. Recently an abandoned yacht club was converted to a museum and community center. Plans costing millions and millions and millions have been presented to try to remediate the water problems of the Sea. We'll have to wait and see if boom to bust turns back to a new golden age for the French Rivera of California.

Salton Sea-148.jpg

Bombay Beach, CA

Salton Sea-131.jpg

Bombay Beach, CA

Salton Sea-141.jpg

Bombay Beach, CA


Salton Sea Beach, CA


Salton Sea Beach, CA


Salton Sea Beach, CA


Salton Sea Beach, CA


Salton Sea Beach, CA


Salton Sea Beach, CA


Salton Sea Beach, CA

Read more here and here. The trailer below is narrated by John Waters and offers some insight into what locals think about the Salton Sea.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weare Is the Owner?

From Heidi Waugaman-Page:

I took these pictures during an excursion to Weare, NH. These images are of an old garage and house across the street that have had no activity since I moved to Deering eight years ago. I always love stopping by and just looking in the windows at all the cars that someone apparently loved a long time ago. Now the place is falling apart more each year and it’s a shame that the autos are, too.






Monday, May 16, 2011

Backside TV

From Dave Brigham:

A few years ago, I watched several episodes of The History Channel's "Cities of the Underworld." Over the course of three seasons, the show's hosts, Eric Geller for half of season one, and Don Wildman (can that possibly be his real name?) for the remainder of the run, visited Hitler's underground lair, Paris's catacombs of death, secret Soviet bases, Egypt's Tomb of the Lost Mummies, Alcatraz Down Under and numerous other subterranean places.

Wildman's hosting style was a bit melodramatic, but the locations he visited were fascinating. Tonight, Wildman debuts a new show, "Off Limits," on Travel Channel (9:00 ET). In the show, Wildman visits U.S. locations including: Los Angeles, where he "penetrates a former Nazi military compound, uncovers clandestine oil rigs in seemingly normal neighborhoods, and kayaks down the LA River," according to the show's web site; San Francisco, in which he "checks into the abandoned Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, once occupied by Scientology creator and patient L. Ron Hubbard;" and Seattle, which he views from the outer rim of the Space Needle.

Check out a sneak peek here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

No Diving

From Dave Brigham:

After spending $200 million to build a state-of-the-art high school for kids on the north side of the city, my adopted hometown of Newton, MA, needed to knock down the school's 37-year-old predecessor. Yes, the old Newton North High School was built in 1973 and already it's (almost) history. And, yes, the new building cost more than any other high school ever in the long and distinguished history of Massachusetts.

My wife (NNHS Class of '85) regularly goes past the high school on her morning runs. She clued me in recently that, after a long delay due in part to the need to remove asbestos, the old school was coming down. So I drove by and snapped a few quick picks of the old pool, which in its heyday was located inside the school.

Old Newton North High School #2

Now, instead of being filled with alluring blue water, it's been defiled by rain water and old bricks that used to protect swimmers and their fans.

Old Newton North High School #1

I wish I could have gotten closer. Didn't have my zoom lens, unfortunately.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Store 13

From Joe Viger:

Shades drawn and warped. Paint peeled and cracked. A private drive secured by Honeywell. A brick foundation on bad luck at Store 13 is a one way ticket to the Backside of America. No chew today.

Store 13.jpg
Bartlett, NH

Saturday, May 7, 2011

UPDATE: Delivery Time

Thanks to Backside fan "JBT," we learned a little more about the old milk truck that Mick Melvin posted about earlier this week (see May 3, 2011, "Delivery Time.")

JBT commented: "They sell AC Petersen Farm's Ice Cream in the Ice Cream parlor there. Evidently the owners saw this old truck rusting away at the old ACP Farm in Bloomfield so they bought it to display it in the lot of the mini golf venue."

Thanks JBT!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Delivery Time

From Mick Melvin:


My wife suggested I go take some pictures of an old milk truck she spied in Farmington, CT. We took the trip down Route 4 to Farmington Miniature Golf and Ice Cream Parlor. I played miniature golf with my wife and niece about two years earlier and didn't even notice the truck. I don't know how I could have missed the bright orange truck parked outside of the parlor, but I did miss it. The truck is evidently decorated during various holidays. When we first saw it, it had a lighted shamrock sign attached to the side.


I'm glad she suggested going to this spot. I was instantly transported to an earlier time. I actually remember milk being delivered to my house in Pennsylvania from the Becthel's Dairy. I still remember anticipating delivery day. I loved going out to the porch and retrieving the glass bottles from the box when it was my turn.


The orange A.C. Petersen milk truck is definitely more colorful than the plain white Becthel's milk truck, but I'm sure if I ever see a Becthel's truck, I will have the same nostalgic feeling. I have no idea how long this orange truck has been parked in front of the ice cream parlor, but I do know that as long as it's parked there, it will bring many of us back to what seemed to be a simpler time.