Friday, March 09, 2007

Faded beauty


Sign of the past
London, Ontario, February 2007 [Click to embiggen]


I've been walking the neighborhood in recent weeks. The frayed-at-the-edges streets offer compelling, poignant views at every turn. You never know when you'll see something that is just sad because it represents something that no longer is.

I came across this piece of not-quite-erased history on my way back to the office. Typical of a winter's day shoot, my fingers hurt from the cold, and I really wanted to get back inside. But the old sign seemed so ideal for a picture. Sure, I could come back another day, but maybe the mood of a chilly, gray day wouldn't be the same. Maybe my personal sense of malaise - thanks to walking around a depressed neighborhood in the bitter cold - meant I'd see the scene somewhat differently if I waited to come back.

Whatever it was that compelled me to stop and take the shot, I'm glad for it. Stark, rectangular forms surround a faded message. How many women walked underneath this sign so many years ago, externally prettier upon their exit than their entrance? Where did these women go after this place closed? Did anyone remember what this place was like back then? Did it even matter?

Too many questions for my chilled brain on that day. So I metered, composed and took the shot before tucking the camera into my coat and heading back inside.

Your turn: Photographs as triggers of history. Please discuss.

28 comments:

Awareness said...

interesting that you have posted a stark image of progress alongside a stark image of demise back to back.

I would love to meet the "old dolls" who frequented this place. You can picture them then with very different "do's" than what fashion dictates now.....just by looking at your shot Carmi.

Anna said...

I am with awareness....

Can you imagine all the wonderful stories and the laughter that took place here? I can only imagine! I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall there.

The tones are very appropriate for the post. Nice shot.

sage said...

wow, the picture really does display "faded beauty" Here from Michele's

re-your discussion question: When writing, I often have a picture in mind that will lead to a story.

Janejill said...

I love the photo Carmi - I once played the part of a "faded beauty" in a school play - (or was it just pretty) it is a very strong image as beauty of some types will always fade. There are many interesting signs here, or rather names on signs - A tiny tiny shop called "The Risk-takers Superette" and a little restaurant called "Grace before meals" I have taken pics, so on my return to Uk will try to download them

ChaCha said...

imagine the topics that were discussed in that hair salon

David said...

friend, you need a new neighborhood, or an armed escort.
have a great weekend, and come by for a ( non digital) moment.

Bob-kat said...

That is pretty poignant (pun intended)!. Beauty obviously always fades... Wonderfully atmospheric photo so the cold fingers were definitely worth it.

Came via Michele's today. Thanks again for your supportive comment adn offer in the week.

Niki said...

That photo is beautiful. I'm afraid I can't quite discern how it makes me feel; but photographs in general, of the past, make me wonder. About what used to be; specifially photos related to maritime history in my area. Thanks for the stop-by on my page; loving yours.

talj said...

I really like your image today, very nicely edited. It provides the viewer with a look into the past some how :o)

Shephard said...

I bet after they left the beauty shop, they went to have lunch with friends,or maybe off to pick up little Bobbie from practice, or little Suzy from ballet class.

Fun photo today.
Michele says hello!
~S

Becky68 said...

I used to love to do that when I lived in Massachusetts, (much more city there than her in VA) look at closed or converted buildings & wonder about what they were used for. Come to think about it there are a lot of former country/mom & pop type stores along the sides of even the most rural back roads here in VA which I'm also fascinated by.
Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday.

kristin said...

so many of the other comments have taken the words right out of my mouth...(or from my fingertips)...and are so insightful. I liked so many things about that photograph....from the colors/tones, to the ideas it sparks ("faded beauty")....the beauty of the heart is the only kind that really lasts...and it is only with the heart that one truly sees (so says the "Little Prince").

IMHO, this shot would look nice blown up to maybe a poster size, and on the wall in a beauty salon today.

Just that you noticed it, in all its faded glory, was amazing enough...

Once again, you have moved me with the beauty of a photo, and have prodded my mind, to new & interesting thoughts....

Have a happy weekend, and hugs the little ones for me...

kristin

utenzi said...

It's interesting that you posted this picture today, Carmi. I left work early today to put in my annual IRA contribution and on the way back I went through a neighborhood I lived near when I first moved to NC 8 years ago. Unfortunately it's gone downhill since then and I was quite surprised and saddened to see how neglected the streets, shops, and houses were. Time passes and that's not always a good thing.

Michele sent me over today, Carmi. You're right--beauty sure can fade.

kristin said...

P.S.
Your question for discussion, "photographs as triggers of history"...it reminded me of another recently posted question...wasn't it something about images from a small town? Or maybe it was about a photograph capturing a moment in time?

The older we become, the more a photograph (our own or someone else's) seems to trigger something historical in our minds/memories.... when I look at a photograph from my own childhood, it's almost surrealistic, sometimes. And, when I look at old B&W's of my mother's childhood, it evokes some really complex feelings/thoughts...making me think of the brief quality of life...like the "twinkling of an eye"....and how precious every moment is.

Thank you for touching my day with this lovely photo, Carmi.

Gina said...

Interesting too that you see the wintery dead twigs of a tree in the background. As a woman, I've longed for shops like this to open again. The idea of a "beauty parlor" sounds devine. Sad indeed. Love your blog.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Here ya go. Inspiration by an old sign.

The Strand

Carolyn said...

I love nostalgia, and that photo is so cool! Your post title captures it perfectly too.

I once took a photo of a rusty, old iron tractor and hay rake in a field. There were those big round hay bales in the backdrop. The sun was setting on the scene at the time, which gave the whole thing a "sepia" antique appearance. Unfortunately, I lost the photo during a move.

Mr. Althouse said...

Again, it's one of those, "If this building could only talk" shots. The picture, only being worth a thousand words, in this case isn't near enough.

Mike

Oh, ya, Michele sent me.

leslie said...

It's sad to think that this place is emptied out, but still here. Can you imagine what it must have been like in the last days of the beauty shop? Were the ladies who frequented it moving on to better places? Did the owners struggle in the end to keep it open?
it's sad, but it's beautiful at the same time.
Thanks for taking the photo, and not walking away
Michele sent me

Lori Schmidt (LoriProPhoto) said...

Hi Carmi

Just a quick check in to say HI.

Great news on the interview a few days ago.

Fabulous photo of the building in your last post.

I think everyone has said it all about the beauty shop, although from where I came from we didn't see this type of thing, this is more small town America than small town Africa LOL. Nonetheless if the building could only speak.

Hope you get warmer weather soon, we topped out at 60F today and considering that we were battling to get above freezing two days ago that is incredible!! I know the feeling of freezing finger tips.

Best wishes
Lori

Cravey said...

I love love love this one.

'Faded beauty' .. love it.

Perhaps your devoted fans will purchase you lots of gloves.

Pat said...

Each time I view your blog, I'm inspired! I'm inspired to look beyond the beautiful images but look inward--into the history of a specific stone, a piece of wood, a sign--faded and worn.

Thanks Carmi! I so enjoy your blog.




Pat's Photos and
Guelph Daily Photo

Melody said...

I can imagine that once upon a time that Beauty shop was a little ripper! Can you imagine the ladies in there chatting and gossiping? I can.

Great photo Carmi, again...

Here via Michele today...

scrappintwinmom said...

Can I conclude that as the weather gets warmer, the pictures will be less depressing? :)

I'm a big fan of older pictures of NYC - seeing things the way they were vs. how they are now.

Rainbow dreams said...

things fade yet unless they are captured in some way they disappear from view - all part of the bigger story....I wonder what this sign will be covered over by next?
I love the idea of the women's stories and lives - but then I'm just nosey like that!:)

Rainbow dreams said...

things fade yet unless they are captured in some way they disappear from view - all part of the bigger story....I wonder what this sign will be covered over by next?
I love the idea of the women's stories and lives - but then I'm just nosey like that!:)

h&b said...

I just like the image of 'faded beauty'. Fabulous.

Stacy said...

If those walls could talk. All of the stories that are told in a beauty shop....

This time history is documented in your picture. Our imaginations take care of the rest!

Great picture.