Goodbye, Old Friend
This was my grandfather's beloved weekend home. I took these photos the last time I saw it. It was a 1972 single-wide trailer, purchased in 1979, the year I was born. My grandfather extended it into a double-wide and built a deck the length of the place. He affixed plywood bunk beds into the wood-paneled walls of each narrow bedroom. He decorated with antiques won from the local Auction Barn. He bought furniture from local farmers who'd set out their old things on their driveways and sell them on the cheap.
The last time I slept there. The summer of 2010, there were mice crawling up the walls and the slate fireplace at night. This put on more of a show than our TV, which was as large as a washing machine and attached to rabbit ears that did little to improve the fuzz that clouded the screen. The phone wires had been eaten through by rodents years before. There was an issue with the running water. I was newly pregnant with my fist baby and wondering if he'd ever get to see the place.
My son, Archer, would get his chance at the age of 4, holding one hand over his head in case the roof fell in, another over his face to muffle the musty smell. He saw wood-paneled walls, the bunk beds my grandfather built, the painting of a woman my grandfather called Mona, who inspired Archer's little sister's name. Ramona was just a baby then and my mother held her out on the deck, stepping over the bushes that were growing through the planks. We avoided the room with the red antique dresser, in which my uncle had discovered a large rodent's nest.
We had no choice but to tear the place down. I put all my savings into demolition, grading the land and rolling in a new double-wide. We rescued whatever furniture we could. Pete says he felt like he was being watched as he carried out lamps and kitchen chairs. I assured him that he was feeling the glares of many soon-to-be evicted rodents; not ghosts. We couldn't take the yoke that hung from the outer wall of the old place. There were wasp nests clinging to the back of it, their burrows sunk into its wood. All I have left is this photo, which I just had blown up to almost life-size proportions. We'll hang it in the new place to jog the old memories.
I photographed whatever I couldn't take with me. The radio station numbers scribbled on the door jam in my grandfather's handwriting. The crumbling bulletin board with a precautionary note in my grandmother's fine cursive that read, "Hospitals in Hudson + Catskill." An empty wasps' nest my grandpa had hung on the living room roof beam. It hurt to leave, to know I'd never see this creepy old trailer again, this home to so many happy summer days. But when I heard Archer's faraway laughter and saw him down by the lake in his bright orange jacket, I knew that we had to crush this place in order to save it for him.