Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: debence, franklin, oil city, Pennsylvania, pithole, titusville, winter blues cures
I have spent the past month recovering from holiday drama, as well as dealing with a more recent family situation that has left me zoned-out on Netflix-on-Demand to escape from it all (and a dose of Wii bowling doesn’t hurt either). All this and the general winter blues has temporarily stolen my motivation to write or take photos. Jeff and I are getting ready for our two-person art show next week, which has been super stressful. To feel productive, I organized our external hard drive and found photos from a weekend trip we had in the Oil City region of Pennsylvania.
I love exploring old, industrial towns and this area held promises of abandoned derricks in locals’ backyards, Victorian houses, spirits of oil barons and steam trains. When we arrived in Oil City, a storm was about to blow through, the bleak grey sky intensifying the color of the buildings around us.
“What are you doing here?” A teen-aged boy hauling a couch into a local junk shop asked us as he watched me take pictures of his town. And it made me think, why are we here?
The romantic lure of a long-dead industry suddenly made me feel like a voyeur and somewhat of an ass for toting around my camera attempting to document rural town life. I could tell from the boy’s tone of voice and his look of disgust that he pretty much thought Oil City sucked and that we sucked for being there. I looked around and even on a Saturday, it was quiet. Aside from a coffee shop up the street, the library, and the junk shop workers, we could have been the only people there.
I’m a city girl who entertains ideas of living in a sleepy, small town where I can clear my brain. Maybe I’ll get more done, be less anxious. Oil City offers an artists’ relocation program to attract people to their region, revitalize homes and set up a creative community. The houses there are incredible and beautiful. We not only wanted to scout the area for our typical trash-hunting purposes, but also see if we could ever live there.
We’re not going to live there, but we do this when we take our long drives and point to houses, “Can I have it?” The dream begins. If we lived there, we would have a spiral staircase, or a fireman’s pole leading to the second floor. A covered porch, and a mud room. Chickens in a coop out back and an old school bus converted into Jeff’s studio A giant empty room for my photography. Long hallways flooded with light. But all of this, in the city. In my search for home, I know that’s where I belong. Dreaming of a slow, quiet summer in the middle of this dark winter fills me with stories.
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