When locking your keys in your car is not a bad thing!
Monday was President’s day in the United States and I had the day off. I wanted to get out for a shoot and was looking to venture south of Nashville and photograph some farm houses. The 4:30 alarm was way too early, but I rolled out of bed and grabbed my gear. I drove 50-60 miles south to an area that had a few small towns, Lynnville/Cornersville/Mooresville, and what I hoped would be some farm houses that I could shoot. The idea of the shooting farm houses came to me as I drove home from Ohio a few weeks back. But, this post is not about farm houses, it is about an interesting find, a stupid mistake, and a new friend.
I was in the area I wanted to be in when the sun started to rise. I grabbed a couple shots of the breaking light with my phone and uploaded to instagram:
I scouted different roads and farms while the light was coming up. I had hoped for an overcast day, but things were pretty clear. I knew shooting was not going to be ideal, but was enjoying the adventure of a new area for me. I shot a few different farms as the morning matured and kept driving down random roads hoping to find the next subject. One small road took me past an abandoned old house sitting back and partially hidden by trees. I stopped and made my way under a couple wires put up as a makeshift fence. There were no signs warning of dogs or threatening potential trespassers, so I continued up to the house. As I got closer my excitement grew. The house was wide open and had definitely seen better days. I was carrying my camera and I took photos as I explored the different rooms. Windows were smashed out, doors torn off hinges and floors were collapsed in from the weight of time. With the bright sun outside, I knew that I needed to shoot HDR in the house to get what I was seeing and feeling. I went back to my car to get my tripod and widest angle lens I brought. I was really getting excited and didn’t think twice when I closed the door, keys inside, locked inside.
Unaware of my future dilemma, I made my way to the house and began a through documenting of its demise. I worked room to room trying to take my time and capture the scenes. I shot all around the first floor before making my way up the old stair case in the front. I didn’t think I would fall through and of the floors, but there were holes here and there, so I was trying to be as cautious as I could. After a few shots I made my way down and to the back where there was an even older and less sturdy set of stairs to a back attic area. They held and I was rewarded with another photo opportunity. A few more images were captured inside and I made my way out to shoot some exterior views. I was preparing to shoot when a large pickup truck pulled up and it was clear the driver was not happy with me.
The driver was a older gentleman, late 60’s or early 70’s. He had a scruffy grey beard, weathered skin, and a bone to pick with me! He wanted to know, “Why was that house so damn interesting to people?” I explained that I was just taking photos and was really drawn to the houses beauty even in its current state. He was still mad at me but with every passing minute his anger lessened. He had recently purchased the house and had plans to fix it up. He shared with me that he bought it after the last of the family who lived there passed away. Supposedly, there were 2 brothers and 2 sisters living there ever since he moved here in 1959 and that they were rather strange. He told me how he was a Vietnam Veteran and was retired. He said he drove around the area every couple hours to check on his different properties. He pointed out houses nearby where different friends and family members lived and how he was trying to get everyone on the country road to fly the American flag like he does outside his home. He said he lived down the road about a mile across from the little town market, a store he once owned but sold a few years back.
I apologized one last time and he drove on off. As I made my way to the car, I realized I didn’t have my keys with me. I was afraid I dropped them somewhere in the house, but a quick look in the window made it clear my misstep an hour earlier. Dang! All excited about the images I was going to shot, I left them sitting on the seat next to my camera bag. What was I to do? Call AAA! I looked at my phone, no service! I could break a window, but that seemed like a costly and unwise solution. I decided to walk to the market and call from the store. I started down the road when my new friend and his large pickup truck came around the bend. I guess he didn’t trust me to leave like I said I would. He stopped and rolled down his window and I explained the situation. He said he had a friend that repossesses cars and would be able to get my car open. My phone still had no signal, so we called from his cell phone, but no answer. He offered to give me a ride to the store and I climbed up into the passenger seat.
During our short drive he shared different stories about different people along the road and what he and his buddies use to do when they were young and racing cars down up and down the road. He told me about his 1971 Charger R/T that he has in his garage that someone recently offered him $150,000 for but he was’t interested. We even discussed our mutual favor for Diet Mountain Dew, but his doctor told him he couldn’t drink it anymore. I never asked him who left the empty cans on the floor of his truck.
When we got to the store, I thanked him for the ride and made my way to the store. I was able to get service there and called AAA. After a few minutes trying to locate Mooresville, TN, they said they had someone on the way and they should be there in 30-60 minutes. While waiting, my new friend drove up in his truck ad told me to get in, he wanted to show me his car. So we made our way over to his house, just across and down the street, and he showed me the ’71 Charger R/T that he bough brand new and had original everything on the car. He was working on the engine with his son, a bad fuel line, otherwise he would take me out in it for a ride. He showed me a picture of him, his car, numerous drag racing trophies and his 1st wife. Shortly, after they were married, she told him he was done racing, she wouldn’t allow it anymore. He said she didn’t last much longer after that. He also informed me that it was impossible to take the curve in front of his house at 130 mph without drifting in the other lane when going west, but coming the other way you could do it. Shame that the interstate was back to the east, I would have liked to try that.
We went back to the market and met up with the locksmith. I thanked him for his help and apologized one last time. We shook hands and I said goodbye to my new friend in Mooresville, Dukie.