broadsideblog

Take That Photo Today — Here’s Why

In antiques, cities, design, life, movies, photography, urban life on March 20, 2011 at 12:41 pm
Cover of "The Purple Rose of Cairo"

Cover of The Purple Rose of Cairo

My little town, 25 miles north of Manhattan, is so charming it’s been used as a set for several films: Purple Rose of Cairo, The Preacher’s Wife, Mona Lisa Smile and The Good Shepherd.

But Oliver’s Barber Shop, used in the Purple Rose of Cairo, is suddenly gone.

It had two huge, perfect 1930s windows, filled with plants and flags and signs. It was, in its own funky way, a set piece, literally.  I loved everything about it and even did a watercolor painting of it about six years ago, framed it and gave it to my sweetie for Christmas. Oddly, the brick around those windows remains a lighter beige, painted for the movie to look more photogenic.

But the barber shop (now a trendy hair salon) is gone for good and I’m in shock and in mourning. I will miss that window, in its ancient messiness, terribly.

I love old things and their patina of age, doors whose paint is alligatored and faded, porcelain that is crazed with a thousand tiny cracks, silver a little banged up, textiles worn thin by someone else’s skin. I can’t explain its hold on me, the ancient. Maybe because it helps me feel anchored by centuries past, not adrift in a world of noise, plastic and neon.

We tend to photograph the unusual and the special: births, christenings, graduations, weddings — but not the quotidian. We’re too busy or assume the things we love about our neighborhoods, our cities and towns and rural landscapes, will always be there.

The disappearance of Oliver’s was a great wake-up call.

Love it before it’s gone.

Take a photo — keep a memory.

  1. I love this idea. All the more reason to go buy myself a new camera (I dropped mine on Friday, may it rest in peace). I love old things as well, I think they reflect simpler but more human times.

  2. Thanks…I am lucky to live in a place with so much cool architecture and history. Now I need to get out and document it.

    Old things remind me that everything is transient.

  3. I’m sorry this little quaint and cute little place is gone. I’m always drawn to home grown little restaurants with unique decor, they just seem to have that ‘it’ factor of being nothing like you’ve seen before. And you seem to become more attached to it than the mainstream stuff, because if that disappears, you can always find another easily.

  4. So true. When I worked retail, the company decided (!?) to get rid of two very beautiful carved Tibetan wooden chests because they wouldn’t look exactly like all the other stores nationwide. Ugh. All it did was make place even more corporate.

    One of the reasons Anthropologie stores are so appealing, to me anyway, is their individual visual quirkiness.

  5. That’s a place I didn’t have on your map.

  6. Good point, bsb. I take so much notice of everything around me here in London, but I certainly never do of my home surroundings in Cape Town. Sorry about the barber shop – it sounded wonderful. I also have a fascination with the ancient – I often wonder what those walls have witnessed.
    Sunshine xx

  7. I truly believe the same! My husband and I recently decided to open a historic bed and breakfast on the property where James Madison was born. We have been to the property several times over the past six months as we work on getting the place. In that time, I have taken over 300 pictures of this property. Things from the front of the house, to the ancient door handles and hinges. I am with you, I love the connection to the past and am drawn to it. What is most exciting for us is that we will be able to reopen this property to the public and allow them to once again come in and see this beautiful home. It has been closed to the public since 1981. But as we continue with our bed and breakfast, we will always have the pictures of the past. To show where we started from.

    • I’ve just spent two glorious days in New Orleans, revelling utterly in the history, scale, colors, patina…taking tons of photos to remind myself why this city has such a instant appeal for me.

      Best of luck with the B & B. What an adventure!

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