Youthful Transgressions

While I’m not sure where it all started, I have this vivid memory of being chased and caught for shoplifting by the local grocery store owner. I couldn’t have been more than six at the time, but I remember it so clearly, that I can vividly remember the coat I was wearing and how after being run down. Only to be dragged by my collar to my house, where some furious knocking at the door awoke my father, who still had about two hours of sleep left before getting ready for his 3:00 – 11:00 shift with the bus company. It was the most trouble I had ever been in up until that time, and it sure scared the shit out of me, but for whatever reason, it didn’t deter me from any future shenanigans.

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Now, before I go any further, I want to state in my defense that I wasn’t some problem child wrecking havoc throughout my neighborhood. It wasn’t one of those ‘lock your doors and board up your windows.’ Here comes that troublemaker, kind of scenarios. I was one of those kids who carried groceries, held the door for my elders, and called adults “ma’am” or “sir.” Then, Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope came out, and the merchandising helped turn me into a kleptomaniac. And while I take full responsibility for becoming a conniving thief, I give a lot of credit to the marketing department at Kenner for turning a generation of kids into zombie-like consumers.

At least try to rewind to a time when there was a particular toy of toys so brilliantly marketed that they had children thinking of one thing and one thing only.For us, there was no Toy’s R Us within reach. They were way out in Long Island. Which, for us, was like a foreign nation. We were latch essential kids with parents who lived from check to check — struggling to pay the bills while putting food on the table. There were birthdays and Christmas. You were pretty much on your own the rest of the year, and during at least one of those occasions, you got socks and a sweater you hated.

Luckily, I was a pretty resourceful kid with a handful of friends who’s knack for finding trouble often found me. With a shopping center within striking distance and a five and dime type store that featured two aisles of toys, we had all the incentive we would need. At the time, I still had my army green snorkel winter coat from the winter before. Perhaps, due to wear or my custom tailoring to allow my front pockets to reach to the back of the coat, allowing me to stuff my somewhat bulky jacket full of whatever action figures I could manage.

Over the years, my friends and I managed to come away with quite a haul. As the stores became savvier when it came to dealing with shoplifters and keeping an eye out for unsupervised children, our methods changed and wavered. And though I’m sure we played only a minor part when it came to the changes in both displaying items and including barcode strips. At the time, we often credited ourselves for forcing the change. Looking back, we were much too young to comprehend the consequences of our actions. It was merely us against that older man who managed the store. Outwitting him seemed to be jus just as, if not more satisfying, as leaving the store with the best toy on the shelf. The rewards went far beyond whatever we might have stolen, the risk, the pumping of the blood, and the uptick of the heartbeat that created the rush.

 

Body, Mind, Soul and Learning my Limitations.

With each day that passes, the neurological disorder I was diagnosed with reminds me that it is here to stay and make certain aspects of my life quite difficult. Adjusting and learning to approach things differently have been keys to moving forward. As much as the physical aspects of Fahrs progress. I can’t help but feel grateful that my upper body and even more importantly, my mind remain strong. Unfortunately though, the mind and body are not quite in sync. Which, at times can get me into a bit of trouble. Case in point, last weekends road trip. Just a week after getting a new, much needed walker, my wife and I planned a road trip that would figuratively and literally knock me on my ass.

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After an amazing breakfast at Anacortes, Washington’s Dad’s Diner. We hit the road and continued on to Deception Bridge / Pass / Stae Park in Oak Harbor, making a number of stops along the way. Now,the fact that I rarely leave the apartment without a walker hasn’t had any effect on my wanting to hike, climb fences or wade waist deep in a river. Which, for better or worse, can get me in a bit of trouble. Add to it the insistence on carrying a photo bag loaded with lenses and other gear. (Perfect for someone battling with balance and stabilty issues.)

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While there, I faced down my fears of heights and walking across bridges while nearly giving myself and my wife heart attacks. The goal, though entirely my wife, was to completely exhaust myself, which I did. During the long drive home, we stopped at farms and vegetable stands where we rebooted with coffee, ice cream and apples.

By the time we made it to the ferry, I started to feel the days actvities catching up with me. I was tired, dog tired. By the time we reached home,  was flat out exhausted. Still, the long time need to put everyhing away in it’s proper place before even thinking  of rest, overcame me and as I was putting something irrelevant away, I fell back on an old suitcase prop I haven’t used in years. The suitcase broke my fall before sending my head crashing into the wall. There were a lot of four letter ords shouted before being rescued by my wife and breaking out in mutual laughter over how I never accept me limits or learn my lesson about knowing when to leave things be. Until the next time.

Clumsily Yours,

–  The PhotoGeek

Escape to Tarzan Island

1970 Plymouth Valiant 2After my Father wrecked or sold ever car he owned. He began using his Mother Veronica’s decade old, beat up car to get from A to B and not much further. The trunk was so dirty that your hands would instantly turn black once you unlocked it. The seats were torn and tattered and the floorboards were often covered with debris and weeks worth of empty fast food containers. Regardless, we were able to fit my Father’s 6’4 frame, our dog, myself and up to eight kids piled up in the backseat. The Hawkins brothers Keith, Petey and M.J., Glen, Tommy and whoever else would risk the trip on that day. (Aside from those named. The cast would always change depending on the day and who was willing to brave the back seat.

Once there, we would often disperse into two separate tribes or war parties as my Dad would set up camp and build a fire to roast hot dogs, marsh mellows or whatever supplies we manged to gather before our voyage. In the few hours we’d stay we’d play war, burn tires and grab whatever we could from the abandoned cars and the nearby railroad tracks. In truth, there was no Tarzan or nearby water to be found. For the life of me, I may never learn how or why it came to be called “Tarzan Island.” But as I would come to learn at the time and many years later. It was what everybody called it. Year later, I’m talking decades. I returned to Sunnyside Queens to seek out the area. The train yard itself was still there, but it had been closed off and closely patrolled. Whoever said, “You can’t go back.” was probably speaking from countless heartbreaking  attempts.

As I’ve returned to many of my original stomping grounds, I find that most things are best left to memory and the mystique many things and places held when we were young impressionable and somewhat fearless. Things definitely felt a lot bigger back then. Something that helped us grow up and mature. And while there’s no diminishing the risks we took and the element of danger we were always drawn to. I feel very lucky to have taken chances and not letting those fears get the best of me. In the end, I’m happy to be able to recall so many adventures from younger years. Like my wife always says. “Maybe one day you’ll write that book.”

Danger is my Middle Name.

OptionsThis afternoon while walking on a stretch of Route 9 highway.  I had a straight up  “Stand By Me” moment. You know, the moment where they’re walking on the train tracks and come upon the bridge. Well, in my case it wasn’t train tracks or the fear of an oncoming train bearing down on me. As I passed the cemetery gates and the overpass looking down on the train yard. I suddenly came to a dead end.         The rocky, gravely road I had been walking on for miles ceased to exist at what seemed like the final leg of my journey home.

Stopped in my tracks. I looked at my limited options.       Already bloodied and still bleeding from a fall about a half mile back. I wiped my sun beaten brow and began to contemplate my narrow choices. Option 1; Walk just a matter of feet (Maybe a hundred or so) on the shoulder of a very busy shoulder of the road that turned onto 9 South and the Pulaski Bridge and proceed to what is known asStand “The Circle of Death. Option 2;      Walk back about a half mile and cross at the next available signal. Having recently watched as car after car mindlessly broke for the shoulder (unfortunately for them, towards a tragic accident and in to the waiting sirens or the local police.) and how dangerous that spot tends to be. I began limping back towards the traffic light in the not so close distance. As I limped towards my destination I spotted a small break in the concrete medium and waited for my chance to bolt towards it.  Lucky for me, I made it across without being hit or causing any collisions. Before long I was home wiping the blood from my leg. If there’s anything to be learned from my experience. It would be to dress appropriately.                 Sandals and shorts are not recommended when walking the highways or exploring local junkyard’s or industrial complexes. Two, take the high road. Life is too precious to have it end foolishly.

The Kids Under the Bridge.

Travel and life in general is all about taking detours and exploring roads less traveled. This weekend while crossing  the Betsy Ross Bridge into Philadelphia we sited an interesting old building to the left of us. Many is the time I’ve traveled the highways and routes and wondered about the history and stories of the old buildings that stood off to  the sides. This time I was intrigued enough to take that exit and do a little exploring of my own. We exited and followed our instincts back to the old building. What turned out to be an old power plant wasn’t quite as interesting close up as it was off the bridge. Regardless, we stopped and got out to take some shots and explore the nearby railroad tracks.

As I was photographing the garbage and refuse left on the abandoned tracks I noticed three kids approaching in the distance. I could just make out their figures as I gazed into the hot sun. It was like something out of a post apocalyptic movie. I continued to shoot images of the warped LP’s as the grew closer.  Just as they reached me they stopped in their tracks and asked what I was taking pictures of. It was somewhat surreal. Here were these kids with no shirts, no shoes walking the rail road tracks. It reminded me a lot of my childhood. From as far back as I can remember we spent much of our time playing on and exploring construction sites and running around in the train yard over in Sunnyside Queens. It seems like much of my childhood was spent ignoring “No Trespassing” signs and entering restricted areas. This trio  was very friendly and inquisitive. Asking me lots of questions. Never displaying an ounce of fear or hesitance. Much like I was as a kid. It really brought me back. As I get older I hope to keep some of that adventurous spirit with me.