Light & Shadow #52

The Last Hurrah — Huston, ID Circa 1992

This is the last hurrah on two counts— my final blog, written about my final picture story as a photojournalist.

Over several months, I and my cameras hung out at the Deer Flat Merc. The days as a thriving mercantile nestled in the farmlands of western Canyon County were fading. The building stands today but is devoid of the life it once had. For some reason, places like this have always appealed to my eye as a photographer. Nostalgia, I guess.

I had big plans for my story — feeling it worthy of a double-truck. Double-truck refers to the facing pages in the center of a newspaper section. The two pages are a single unit, allowing content to stretch over both. All that real estate is a dreamland for displaying pictures.

I was done with photography and working on the story and layout when I left for vacation. During my absence, editors found themselves needing something to fill an extra page and came calling upon my coworker. Sadly, he took the easy way out and handed them my unfinished project. Such a betrayal! My friend knew how much I’d put into the story, and the editors showed their typical disregard for photography.

Not long after, I left the newspaper business for good.

The Merc project reminds me of one last story to tell.

I worked at a grocery store in high school and a summer or two while in college. Before recycling was a thing, cardboard boxes and paper trash were burned in an incinerator.

Late one night during restocking, I thought it odd that the hose used to keep the produce section wet snaked its way through the doors to the freight room. I followed the anomaly to find one of my coworkers standing in front of the flaming incinerator with a dazed look on his face. Mike had added trash from the check stands to the fire. Luckily, he turned away just in time! An aerosol can — accidentally in that trash — exploded, injuring the side of his face.

Benny was our manager that night. I ran to where he was and yelled, “Benny, Benny — a can blew up in Mike’s face!” and returned to help Mike. After an inappropriate amount of time passed and no Benny, I went looking for him.

Apparently, Benny thought I said THE can blew up in Mike’s face. I found him in the men’s room, shifting his puzzled gaze from the toilet to the ceiling and back.

Fortunately, Mike suffered no lasting harm. Though there was nothing funny about his mishap, Benny’s misinterpretation of it was hilarious!

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