Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Anniversary Post #4: My Favorites from 2013

From Dave Brigham:

Welcome to the fourth installment in a series celebrating the 7th anniversary of the blog (for links to the prior three installments, see the bottom of this post). This post covers 2013.

I need to mention that Joe Viger has contributed some amazing photos and fantastic write-ups over the years, but I'll be linking to very few of them in this series. Why? Because Joe -- an amazing photographer who has served as a mentor of sorts to me in that regard, and a great friend I've known for nearly 30 years -- has changed the security settings on his Flickr account so that many of his photos that have run on this blog show up as broken links now. I will instead direct you to his wonderful online portfolio.

On January 17, 2013, Heidi Waugaman-Page shared several cool shots of what I guess you would call outsider art, taken in Vermont and New Hampshire. In "Roadside Art," we see a giraffe, an eagle, some flowers and a tree, all crafted from old, and sometimes rusting, metal.

My favorite aspect of exploring for this blog is to stumble across something I didn't know I was looking for. Second to that, I suppose, is knowing roughly what I'm looking for, but still being amazed by it upon my arrival on the scene. Such was the case in my January 30, 2013, post, "Whimsical Woodlands." I'd read online about a magical place called Martini Junction and set out to find it in Needham, Massachusetts. I got turned around a bit in the woods, but when I found the spot, I was just about overwhelmed with joy.

(Scenes from Martini Junction.)

On February 7, 2013, I wrote for the second time about a mystery that has bugged me since I was 14 or 15 years old. In "President Little, Part II: From Myth to Man," I updated the story of an abandoned house in my hometown that I'd wandered through with friends when I was in high school. I learned a bit more about the man who'd lived there from some some folks who knew him. I also tried to get in touch with his son, who at that point was elderly, to ask him why his father had left everything he owned behind in his house when he died.

(What's left of the house where President Little once lived.)

On February 26, 2013, Kristen Smith shared with us a picture from an abandoned camp in New Hampshire, in "Abandoned, But Solid." Ah, the simple pleasure....

I take a fair amount of photos of churches and religious icons, but I've never seen anything like what James M. Surprenant shared with us in his March 25, 2013, post, "Jesus Saves," featuring a beautiful black-and-white shot taken in Eden, North Carolina.

In "Down On the Farm," from May 7, 2013, Pete Zarria shared some gorgeous photos of farms from Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin.

While we here at The Backside of America focus quite often on abandoned or forgotten or collapsing or rusted or graffiti-covered places, we also love old places that have been restored. On May 28, 2013, in "Small, But Useful," I wrote about a tiny building that started life in the 1840's as a private school, and which over the ensuing decades served as a train station, a summer house and an art studio.

On June 14, 2013, Pete Zarria posted numerous fantastic shots of ghost signs. "More Signs That Say 'Boo'" featured photos from places in Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri.

Just three days later, on June 17, 2013, I published "Powda House," which is about the most significant historic structure in Dedham, Massachusetts, and most likely the smallest as well.

I've never trespassed inside a building in service of this blog. I have, however, done some external trespassing, although on a very small scale. Two and a half years after posting about the former O'Hara Waltham Dial Company, I revisited the site, this time checking out the backside. Not sure why I didn't think of doing that sooner. In the July 8, 2013, post, "What a Dump: A Different View," I found myself face to face with this sign:

I didn't go over the fence, but I felt that in simply walking around the area, I was potentially exposing myself to hazardous waste. I snapped a few pictures and moved on.

August 19, 2013, brought another post by Pete Zarria, "Backside Business," featuring cool shots of old hotels, markets and restaurants in Iowa, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Missouri.

On September 4, 2013, I published the first of a four-part series about Chelsea, Massachusetts, "Chelsea Stroll." I shot photos of a dive bar, a really old municipal garage, a run-down residency hotel and a Russian steam bath. I did not, however, venture to take pictures of King Arthur's Lounge.

I'm happy we can share at least one post by Joe Viger. On November 18, 2013, he posted a beautiful shot of a back alley in New York City, in "New York Escape."

In "The Big Reveal" from December 10, 2013, I got a rare picture of a mural that was painted on a school in my adopted hometown on Newton, Massachusetts, in 1981. The mural had been covered for years by a loading dock, but when construction workers began renovating the building, they revealed it for just a short time, before it was torn up.

To wrap up the year, on December 26, 2013, I posted the first of several posts about named buildings, "What's In a Named Building? (Part 1)."

Here are links to the previous three installments of this series:

"Anniversary Post #3: My Favorites from 2012."

"Anniversary Post #2: My Favorites from 2011."

"Anniversary Post #1: My Favorites from 2010."

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