Friday, April 1, 2011

Where We Were - 1992. Nauseating in more ways than one

In pawing through all the old photographs of the yard progress, there's a distinct lack of documented evidence to just how bad the yard was, at its height in the 1990s.

It was only in 2001 or so when we started to clean things thoroughly and document the evidence. This happened to coincide with the dawn of digital photography, so photos would be shot of the progress. These photos would become more plentiful as memory cards got bigger and cheaper.

But for pretty much that whole decade of the 90s there was no reason to waste precious film on pictures of junk! So very little evidence exists of how junkyardariffic this acre and a half property really was.

And- for most of the 90s Thalia and I were fresh out of high school and seemingly powerless to do anything about the junk, then later on busy at college or working and living somewhere else. Couple this with the fact that dad's business was pretty much winding down to a trickle and you get a situation where there were a grand total of 70-something cars in the yard plus lumber, junk, car parts, metal chunks, rusty rust, etc.. etc...

In 1992 I was in video school and I had built a homemade steadi-cam of sorts. I'm not sure if it was a success or not, but I tested the contraption by running out the front door and bounding across the roofs of the cars in the yard like a slower and slightly more cautious version of parkour freerunning. And here is the result, if you can stomach it.

video

So grab a paper bag and just let your eyes glaze over. Can you count how many cars there are in the yard? There's about 50 visible here, though there's about 6 indoors and another 20 or so not visible.

What is noticeable here is that the cars are all over the yard at this point in time, whereas in the 2000s they have at least been consolidated to one location. What are now great expanses of green and a usable driveway were just parking lots for non-running vehicles back then. And disclaimer: those last 5 seconds or so are an actual parking lot nearby, not our yard. I can't even imagine how much worse the yard would have been if the 78 cars were Cadillacs or some other land yachts. They'd take up twice as much space!

-Tara

18 comments:

The Writing Goddess said...

Wow. Two things - very cool you documented this, even if it did make my head spin.

Going to get some 7up now.

WV: teriptin - if you weren't very careful walking through this property, you could have teriptin badly hurt yourself.

Thalia said...

Har har, TWG. :)

Was that The Toad somewhere around 1:55? So-called because it was ugly, round, and green, and often found its way home via the back of a tow truck.

Tara said...

Actually, that's a different green bug. The Toad was shinier than that. The Toad is visible at 2:05 and 2:42 being hoisted up by some sort of chain apparatus.

Sid said...

My goodness, it's never-ending! How did your father see VALUE in these? Didn't he have to pay fees on these or something to the state? In California, even if we're not operating the vehicle, I believe we still have to pay some sort of reduced registration to the state.

My word, girls!

NanaR said...

All I could think of as you were walking around was "I bet there are snakes in there somewhere!" Then I thought of rats, and snakes eating the rats, and OH BOY that was creepy.

You have certainly made awesome progress!

Anonymous said...

Seeing this video really makes me wonder about village land use codes, even if they existed back then, and now. Are you girls getting any pressure from your town to clean up the mess?
What must neighbors been thinking all these years? Was/is there just enough brush when it's green that the mess doesn't seem "visible" from the road or adjoining yards....let alone the fees that Sid mentions, since all those vechiles were on the property.

Any chance you all could do an overhead drawing of the property, house, garage, vehicle location?

I can't get over how much there was/is on an acre and half of property.

Egads, you two have made TREMENDOUS strides and I truly hope you do ALWAYS feel a sense of accomplishment with each load that goes!!

Keep up the good work.....many of us continue to root for you!!!

A reader from Chicago area

Tara said...

Dad had as car repair business there, so he had a dealer's license. I don't think he was actually allowed to sell cars (like a used car lot), but he sometimes did. He was allowed a certain amount of cars visible and a certain amount behind a fence, but at the height, he had far more than he was supposed to have. Town ordinances didn't seem to have any bearing on random junk though.

Thalia said...

(Hmmm. It ate my comment. It'll probably show up later and I'll have to delete this one, ha.)

I'd forgotten about the dealer's license. I was assuming that it was more that they let it slide a bit because he was on the Conservation Commission and the Soil Board and so knew the selectmen and the powers-that-be in this small town. Not that I think it was some kind of favoritism, more that it would have been awkward to confront him on it, and nobody wanted that job. Maybe.

Not that he ever got the irony of being on those two committees concerned with the environment. He was not anywhere near aware enough for it to have even been some kind of compensation or guilt, I don't think. I think it simply satisfied some busybody need to know what the neighbors were up to.

And yes, we used to (still do) call it the Conversation Commission and the Dirt Board.

Rosa said...

Have you ever read "Ecology of a Cracker Childhood?" - Janisse Ray's father was an actual junkyard owner, and his family was poor mostly because of his religious beliefs, but your stories keep reminding me of parts of it.

Thalia said...

I haven't; googling it and reading some reviews I have a feeling it's one of those things that would make me angry to read. Or at least the reviews certainly did. I think because they were talking about the author's father as some kind of proto-environmentalist who saw the value in reclaiming/salvaging and I just got no patience with putting some kind of positive spin on that shit. Also it seemed that the author was clearly describing abusive family members and I just can't. But that might be more a problem with the reviews than the actual book, which were treating those abusive people like some kind of colorful characters. No. Sorry.

Anon in Chicago: that could be fun; like take a recent satellite picture of the property and sketch in the cars that were there in Photoshop or something and post them both. Though Tara would have to be the one to do that as she knows where things were better than I. Me, I've tried to block it out.

Rosa said...

It might not be your thing, then - the authorities in her family were clearly abusive (clear to me at least) - but there's a clear sense of "I loved them anyway" and the childhood stories are intermittent - most of the story is about the pine forest and how people relate to it.

For me there's a certain amount of difference between actual poverty and untreatable-at-the-time mental illness over the kind of forced fake poverty you guys grew up in. But I'm not the one whose dad has a still-untreatable mental illness.

Thalia said...

Oh yeah. There's a world of difference between being poor and being a miser.

Dez Crawford said...

Wow. Just wow. And I think I know where my old VW bus finally ended up after I sold it. :)

Anonymous said...

Sid - in California you can file a Certificate of Planned Non-Operation and suspend the need to pay registration on vehicles as long as they are being stored.

Thalia and Tara, I am in total awe of the two of you and how much you have been able to accomplish.

My father owned a towing company, fortunately in a small yard that is rented. He lives in a trailer on the property and I've not been able to convince him to get rid of the 20 cars, 4 tow trucks and storage trailers of crap. According to him they worth a lot of money and will be my inheritance, yet nobody in their right mind would buy them so they sit there rotting and devaluing. When he dies I will be left to clean up the mess. The only thing I would be remotely interested in are family photos that are buried in one of the storage trailers somewhere but there is nothing of any real value. I have been seriously considering just walking away from it all since there is no real property involved and I can't afford to pay his rent while spending time to sort through his worthless shit. I will need to contact an attorney to see what my options are.

Tara said...

Actually, the red VW Bus that you see around the 50 second mark is the exact same one we're using today occasionallyh to haul scrap with.

GregS said...

Reply to Anonymous: if you can just walk away from it, you probably should. The hoarder argument that some of the stuff is valuable and will be your inheritance is rubbish. Unless there's a long-lost work of Picasso stored in there or a sack of gold bars, the time and money it will cost you to sort through all the crap will far outweigh the money you'd get from the few things that are worth some money.

Anonymous said...

I live in CA and I would have to pay $19 to file a PNO on my more than 10 year old car's registration. Far less than the $114 registration, but not exactly free.

natevw said...

This is a serious wake up call to ' Collectors ' ! DO NOT do this to your Children , even if they seem to like your old cars & whatnots .

GET RID OF IT ALL before you're 65 or as soon as you have any health issues .

I have been clean ing out my accumulated junk and selling/giving away old vehicles so my Son won't have to deal with this misery .

-Nate