There are places you would never go but constantly think about. They fill your imagination with different photographic opportunities which in reality may be nothing more than illusions. Thus, for a long time I wanted to explore the backyard of the oldest hotel in our city but didn’t have the guts to do it. Two days ago I finally gave myself permission to go there, explore and take a few pictures.
In the backyard I found a group of people – there were six of them- sitting on simple plastic chairs. I didn’t expect to see them. We looked at each other for a few minutes in silence. Awkward situation and heavy when you want to get out of it but don’t know how. A man in his forties finally broke the silence. He got up, approached me and said that wasn’t the best place to take pictures; people who lived in this old hotel weren’t welcoming outsiders.
“We are mentally sick people. Some of us have bipolar disorder, some schizophrenia. I have post traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq. We all are on a special program and that is our home. If you want to know more about this hotel let’s go around and I will show you something very interesting,” the man said.
The words ” to go around” sounded not bad and they were promising the way to the street and far away from the group. And I agreed to go around the hotel not knowing what to expect next. I was scared and tried not show my fear. The only thing I wanted was to be on the street and then to try to escape. We went out of the backyard and stopped in front of the hotel’s main entrance and I noticed a metal plaque on the brick wall with five long paragraphs about the history of the hotel.
We stood in front of this plaque and the man began to read one paragraph and then another. He read slowly, sometimes making comments and my fear little by little disappeared. I wasn’t any more scared, I listened and thought that I was driving by this place so many times and I didn’t even noticed this plaque. I never stopped to read it, I was always on go-go-go.
The hotel was built in 1914. Just before First World war. It’s still standing proudly on the corner of the main street. A modest three-story masonry building, the hotel originally provided housing for blue collar railroad workers and travelers. Right now its tenants are low income people and people on the special programs.
That was an unforgettable evening!
I would like here to thank this kind man who helped me get out of the backyard safely and read patiently for me the history of the oldest hotel in our city.
GOD BLESS YOU, whoever you are! God bless you for your kind heart, kind words, for listening my life story, and just being for me and showing that the world is a much bigger and kinder place.