1800 hwy 1088

every time i pass by an abandoned, decrepit old house (and here in the deep south, there are a lot of those), i wonder… who lived there? what kind of life did they have? i live just north of new orleans, and many times i’ve driven along old river road, passing ancient plantations and slave homes, just wondering- imagining- what was life like for those who lived within those walls? i’m fascinated by the thought of life before modern conveniences. by the image of mothers, with children just like me, bearing their way through days without indoor plumbing or electricity.. without washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, vacuums, disposable diapers, electric stoves, garbage services, etc… and so,  i’ve always been fascinated by my great grandparents’ home. i have vivid memories of visiting them when i was young, pretty regularly. my mom was good about that. we would turn off of the highway into the long driveway, lined with azaleas and camellias and oaks, and slowly bump along. i would marvel at each and every flower. it seemed the bushes were always blooming, no matter what time of year… we’d pull up next to the house and park, and run in through the squeaky back screen door. my mawmaw was almost always sitting right there, on her wooden stool, washing dishes. and pawpaw, in his wheelchair, was sitting by the table in the next room, with a big smile on his face… these people, their faces lined with wrinkles, smiles, memories and hardships… who were they?  i knew who they were in their old age, but who were they REALLY?

about 15 years ago they both passed, and since then their home has been left, mostly untouched, just as it was. the home was originally built with two bedrooms, a living room and kitchen; no indoor plumbing (outhouse out back), and the kitchen originally housed a wood burning stove. over the years, the front and back porches were closed in to add extra room, and modern conveniences slowly crept their way in.. as i walked over the green painted wood floors, worn bare over the years, i looked at all the little details and asked myself the same question: what was life like for them here? what kind of challenges did they face? and i swear, it was like i could feel the memories whispering all around me. i am so SO thankful that i had the idea to do this and was allowed in to capture these old walls.

 it's winter now, so not much is in bloom. but most times of the year, the driveway is lined with bursts of color from the azalea, camellia and rose bushes.

it’s winter now, so not much is in bloom. but most times of the year, the driveway is lined with bursts of color from the azalea, camellia and rose bushes.

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the driveway, viewed from the house.

the driveway, viewed from the house.

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that squeaky old screen door.

that squeaky old screen door.

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two of three brothers who were raised here.

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children were born here.

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the meiner’s family tree.

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that is my pawpaw’s hand. in the photo, a young pawpaw.

my mom, second from right.

my mom, second from right.

me, far left.

me, far left. the happy looking one.

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you like it. it likes you.

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10 thoughts on “1800 hwy 1088

  1. seriously , ashley, i have no words for this. i am moved so much on so many levels. oh, how i wish i would have had the chance or thought to do this . you have a story here that is so real you can feel it and live it as you see these pictures. brilliant. thank you for sharing. i really am in awe!

  2. I wish I could have had the foresight to document my grandparent’s farm house. I was a four room house built from lumber recovered when the local school house was torn down. No insulation, no running water, 1 fireplace for heat in one room and the wood stove in the kitchen, and as I think about it, only 1 electrical outlet in each room. Water was collected from the roof. Rain ran off and was channeled into a cistern with a hand pump. That was always the coldest, freshest, tasting water ever! There was an outhouse on the hill and a smokehouse that was used as a shed. Baths were in a galvanized tub in front of the fireplace with water heated on the wood stove. Oh, the memories of that old house. The house is gone now, but the memories still make me tear up thinking about them…wishes I could go for a visit. Thanks for sharing your memories

  3. I have looked through these like 10 times! I am in love with the way you framed these. All of them perfect-I love the painting of Jesus crooked on the wall and red shoes on the old scale. You should make a book out of these.

  4. So, so beautiful, Ashley. I love every single photo. It makes me think about several photo projects I would want to do when we travel to Louisiana in the spring. You always inspire me…thank you! 😉

  5. WOW…these are great and very touching…the stories those walls could tell. You captured memories 🙂

  6. this brought back memories of visiting my great-grandparents in rural mississippi when i was younger. love the details and light you’ve captured. i can only imagine what an emotional visit this must have been.

  7. I found myself wanting to be next to you while you shot these, really, really awesome art Ashley. What a treasure to have of your family. Beautiful work. xo

  8. Seriously, people used to live without electricity? WTF. Like really, how freakin’ hard was life then? It’s crazy. I absolutely love this post. Your sweet and descriptive words… the beautiful images… so so lovely. It got me seeing that room that children were born in. A house has never been more of a home. I think about our own home often… we bought it from the original owner’s family. She died, naturally, in the home. We found a picture of her behind one of the baseboards when we changed them out. We planted one of our own photos behind the same baseboard for someone else to find one day. Makes me miss the days people stayed in one place for a lifetime. If homes could speak. Lovely, lovely images. Seriously, love this post so much. Happy New Years ya bum.

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