When I was 3 and a half, I was featured in a book. There was a full-spread page with a photo of me leaning up against a borehole in the town of Centralia, smoke was billowing from the background and a group of teenagers were running from the camera–one may have been my brother. The shot looked more like a scene from a third world nation .. But at that point, a mine fire had infected the underground nearest my home and the situation was getting dire.
Yesterday there was a haunting moment when I saw my own past come back for a split second in vivid detail.. the black and white photo of my from 1983 suddenly was in color, standing on front of me.. My son Ayden, incidentally the same age as me when I was featured in SLOW BURN, was standing on front of empty SEARS store shelving in the Schuylkill Mall, Frackville PA.. Sears of closing after the corporate decision to make Frackville one of the many locations that would shudder in 2015. There were only a handful of items left, all marked with an ‘all sales final’ warning under the 70% off all merchandise signs. Business was brisk–people were even rudely clamoring for more money off.. Even the store shelves were being purchased. All things must go. Including history.
When Ayden was in front, I said “look at me and smile!” and snapped the photo with my iPhone. Instead of a smile, I caught him sort of in a wide-mouthed surprised look at what he was seeing. I think he realized that this store, once filled with items to the point where you could hardly walk, was vanishing. Now it’s becoming a giant open field of tiled floors..
As I watched Ayden walk around the soon to be closed Sears at the mall today I realized the importance of this simple photo. When he is 30 or so, retail will be a distant memory. The way we buy everything will have changed.. This picture captured a moment, just one moment, when it was in its final phase..
While he may not remember the day or time this picture was taken, the evidence of it will allow Ayden will impress his own children with tales of malls and how he once, as a child, walked in stores to buy products instead of purchasing them in his body chip implant and have same day drone delivery..
Of course Ayden’s picture is not being published in a book. But it is on his father’s website. And that’s the way things are now.. until something else comes around and makes websites so 2000 and late.
A moment in time.. As life shifts.