In my previous post I declared, with this blog, I would concentrate more on the history of the places I photograph—and I will—but I love a good story and this is one I can’t resist.
I just got home from the theatre, which of course always reminds me of how important story-telling is. I was telling my friends about an incident at Scranton Lace on Saturday. And, like my work friends who heard the story earlier today they were equally intrigued. I have no explanation for what follows, I have my own interpretation, some of which I will offer, but we all find our own truth in synchronicity, so I believe everyone’s personal perception is valid and as such I am sharing this story as just a good “yarn”! Nothing more-or-less.
It’s hard leaving a blog behind and starting a new one—the history of my exploring habits/shenanigans are gone—but I will attempt to catch new readers up and set the scene as briefly as possible.
My exploring buddy, who I affectionately call “chatterbox,” (only for blogging purposes) has accompanied me on all of my adventures for the past 3 years. I visited most of the places I shot for my thesis alone, and frequently scared the you-know-what out of myself. So, as much as having her along took some getting used to (I whined a lot in my previous blog about the lack of silence) I have grown used to the whole safety in numbers concept, and I have also grown to enjoy our ridiculous banter—but last Saturday she was in Florida and I was going to be in the Scranton area and I was hell bent on doing Scranton Lace. It has been on “my list” for years.
So, I went alone. I did have permission from the owner to be there, which certainly contributed to my somewhat “cocky” I can do this without her attitude. And honestly, I was fine for the first hour or so—a little jumpy—but I was good.
As always, I was cursing the fact that I never made it past 5’2” and although I like to think I have the shoulders of a footballer — I really don’t—I’m a woman and I’m little and I don’t look terribly threatening. I always have plans to whap whoever might confront me with my 25- year-old, 20 lb plus tripod, but I’m a woos and I don’t really like my chances of whapping anyone—I would just run really fast.
Anyway, the first hour was uneventful. I was nervous, but happy to have the opportunity to shoot this marvelous piece of history. I had finally found the fabled Nottingham Loom. I was completely preoccupied with the enormity of the machine and its intricate mechanical structure when I heard noises! Noises I didn’t expect to hear.
I swore—a lot. And then preceded to creep over to the entrance of the building so I could peek out. When I say entrance, it wasn’t a doorway, it was just a gigantic, house size, hole in the side of the building, I guess to get the looms out. So I felt pretty vulnerable. All I could see was a big black SUV and a person in a big coat and baseball cap, I had no idea if they were male or female. They were probably 400 to 500 meters away (I’m not good with yards…it’s an Aussie thing) and of course at my age, my eyesight is a bigger problem than my height, so I couldn’t see a bloody thing except a bigger than me person and a big black truck and I was conjuring up all sorts of scenarios. Another problem was, I had only recently read an article on a website by a group of young explorers who had been chased by a local gang in a black SUV a year or so ago at Scranton Lace. So I am sure you can imagine where my mind was going. And I was ALONE!
However, because I’m obsessed with my photography (or I’m just plain stupid) I shrugged it off and went back to shooting, reminding myself that I had an email with permission in my pocket, and also pleading with my overactive imagination to just shut up! About 10-15 minutes later I went back to check what was going on. The SUV was getting closer and I couldn’t see anyone. I could hear voices but couldn’t make anything out.
Next, I had a serious conversation with myself! It went like this: You really need to get out of here! You don’t know who is in that truck! You are alone! You are 4 hours away from home! No one you call can get here in time to help you! YOU NEED TO LEAVE NOW!
I stopped shooting. I folded the legs of my tripod together. I balanced the tripod against a post.
An old brown piece of paper attached to the post caught my eye; it was in between the post and a piece of wire that was wrapped around the post. I gently pried it away from from its home. It was an old American Legion event ticket. It was dated July 18, 1936.
I guess, dear reader, you’re saying— so what. But July 18, 1936 was the day my Dad was born—he died almost 15 years ago. That little old worn piece of ticket (see picture) with my Dad’s date of birth on it has survived 75 years stuck to a post in a bustling factory — it even has paint on it from a paint job on the post. And I was the one to find and remove it. ????
I looked at the date. I looked again. I got a weird feeling in my stomach. It actually kind of took my breath away.
I don’t know what you call finding this ticket. I’m not going to get into my personal beliefs on my “fun, light-hearted, soon to be historically correct “ blog. But finding it made me stay and spend the day at Scranton Lace. I held the ticket close. I stared at it. I tucked it into my inside jacket pocket and looked upward and said, I guess it’s OK to be here, you’re watching over me.
I still packed up my gear and headed up several flights of stairs and then into another adjoining building— away from ground level— as far away from the black SUV and voices as I could get. I was intensely aware of their presence throughout the day, their footsteps and chattering. Hours later, I recognized women’s voices and felt much more comfortable. And then eventually we ran into each other.
They were all very nice people, like-minded souls. Turns out they were at Scranton filming a paranormal tv-series. We chatted about what we were doing there; exchanged info, and then we all went our separate ways to other parts of the massive complex—they, in search of the bowling alley—me, in search of the clock tower.
We ran into each other again when I was leaving and they were setting up for their night-time investigations. We said our goodbyes and I never mentioned my ticket to them. It always takes me days to analyze and then discuss things (it’s a Virgo trait).
So, I love this story. I had to tell it. I have so many, from my many adventures, and I rarely write about them. But this one begged me to be told.
I imagine the “why” of it all will be explained to me at some point. I believe we all experience synchronicity. I believe there are no accidents. I don’t know why I found the ticket that made me stay. Well that’s not entirely true. I do have my theories, and they may be right or they may be wrong. But I’ll keep my theories for me.
I know one thing for certain. I was meant to photograph the Scranton Lace factory. I am honored to have experienced first-hand its wonderful history. Thanks Dad for giving me the courage to stay!