Time to post some of the photos from a few different shoots at Covington Salvage Yard.
I prefer that this story starts at the bottom of the page because that seems appropriate for explanation purposes, but since all of the other pages are top to bottom I’m going to stick with that theme. It’s 2014 and I’m taking photos with the camera below at Covington Salvage Yard–which I describe better as the page continues. Eventually I’ll also post the photographs that result from the shooting.
Lately I’ve been taking a look at the landscapes that exist within the salvage yard. These photographs were taken with my Mom’s little point and shoot, but I’m happy with them as a start to something larger. I’ve taken hundreds.
Last night was I was driving down the road behind a rollback truck. Obviously that happens often, but for some reason I looked into the back of the wreckage on the rollback (which, in this case, was not evident from the rear) and imagined two little heads popping up from the back window smiling and waving at me.
I can imagine most people would think I was having some sort of horrific imagined idea of children passing away in the crash that put the vehicle on the rollback in the first place, but that wasn’t my thought process at all. Instead, it took me back to when my sister and I were little and we would go with my dad to pick up one, two, three, or sometimes four wrecked cars at an auction someplace. After my dad had loaded the cars onto the truck we were given the option to ride with my parents in the front of the truck (which was a bit cramped) or in one of the wrecked cars on the back. (I actually think that I begged him to ride there rather than him simply offering.) What makes me laugh is that, in my memory, my mom’s only comment was threatening that we wouldn’t have heat back there. Anyway, this all comes to me weeks after my sister and her husband had their first baby. I’ve never been more attentive to child-safety laws. I’m pretty sure riding in a wrecked car on the back of a rollback would not be the safest way to return your children to safety, but growing up in a salvage yard is hardly a safe spot to play in the first place.
When I was little it didn’t seem odd to me that there wasn’t a working bathroom at Covington Salvage Yard. As I grew up, though, it didn’t seem quite as natural to go to the bathroom among the hundreds of cars–hoping that no customers would stroll by. I mention this because just today I was thinking about the color red. The color red reminds me of the color that one gentleman turned when the tables were turned one day while I was working at the yard. There was a guy that my parents both called “Red” that I actually don’t think was the guy I caught, but after that embarrassing moment there really was only one “Red” in my head.
Last week was my mom’s birthday. Typically my dad, although he seems to sincerely want to purchase and participate in the purchase of my mom’s gifts, misses the perfect opportunity or moment when my mom also wants to go birthday shopping. This year was no exception.
I heard the story second hand, but I got the impression that after asking my mom to go shopping and after her begrudgingly accepting and after an almost totally failed attempt to get her something that she would truly like, my dad decided to do a different kind of shopping. As the owner of Covington Salvage Yard, he has the pick of the litter when it comes to used clothes and pretty much used anything that someone might leave in a car after it has been wrecked, recovered, and auctioned off to someone like him. So, he went shopping in his own mall and found an enormous collection of gifts.
I think he intended to present them to her, but perhaps because he actually did end up getting her some thoughtful gifts he decided to auction the gifts off to his four girls–my mom, my grandma, my sister, and I. My sister’s husband, Mark, was my dad’s chosen auctioneer. I should mention, too, that my dad gave us each $8 to purchase the goods.
The auction itself was hilarious and fun–both atypical and a supremely typical type of activity for our family. My prized purchase was a pair of rather beat-up rollerskates. After a little cleaning, new laces, and a lot of decorating they turned out almost as interesting as the event itself.
‘salute to salvage’ began in Berlin when I told a story to fulfill an assignment about change. My peers not only listened intently as I nervously told my story, but encouraged me to keep writing snippets of my childhood in the yard.
From the time I was able to work until the time I left for college, I spent summers working at what used to be my grandfather’s (and is now my father’s) salvage yard. I didn’t work there everyday, but often enough that I thought of it as my job. Generally, I was given the task of taking small parts of cars to fill a particular customer’s order. As a result, I was in and out of hundreds of cars and got in and out of them in a variety of ways. For example, my father might have asked me to pull a passenger-side tail light from an 89 Ford Escort. A tail light is relatively external, but if you don’t have a key you become fully invested in the internal workings of the car to get to it. You’ve got to go through the car, possibly tearing out the back seat and disengaging the trunk lock to eventually get to the screws that hold the tail light into place. It didn’t take long for me to acquire enough stuff–air fresheners, lighters, small change, clothing, and an unbelievable amount of odds and ends–to begin believing that someday I could actually start a store with it all. I believed it and somehow, in the midst of these spaces and all that I found within them, the connection to the then vacant human was completely absent from my thought process.
The last time I went home my dad said, “Hey Nic, we have a radio recycler coming today. I’ll give you $10 for every radio you pull.” I suited up while I dreamed about having extra money in my pocket. About halfway through the day I jumped into a front-impacted SUV only to find that a man’s scalp was attached to the ceiling of the vehicle.
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