I spent Memorial Day with my relatives in the small town of Polo. Since it was such a nice day, I decided to go downtown and shoot. I wanted to reaquaint myself with the place I’d often visited as a child and look at it through new eyes. Downtown Polo is, oh say, about a two block area of old stores all connected to each other. Some were kept up over the ages, others were not. My relatives don’t see anything particularly interesting about the town or all that old stuff, but I do. So I left the house, weirdo with a camera, and went exploring.
Sadly, a good chunk of the buildings on one side of the street is hanging in rags. It was difficult to discern if this one spot in particular even had a back wall. I felt somewhat crushed seeing it more dilapidated than I remembered.
At one corner stood the considerably more intact old bank. I only know it was the bank because it is labeled as such. Otherwise, I would assume that the handsome grey building across the street had always been the bank.
I had to admire the detail in the buildings. The way people built things back in the day was so much more ornate. Not at all like many of the plain square structures put up today.
On the other side of the street, I found this amazing doorknob. Seriously, have you ever seen such a beautiful exterior doorknob?
Buildings on the other side of the street seemed to be better kept up as a whole. This one is particularly nicely kept up or restored. I’m not sure which.
Unfortunately, a large and beautiful old school building just outside the downtown is not. I’m told the building was designed by a noted architect. My relatives can remember going to school here and can still point out their classrooms. They convey a great sense of sorrow about the state of this building. I’ve often wondered what could be done with it. The town has more modern and efficient school buildings, so they don’t need it for that purpose. Economically, a business big enough for the building wouldn’t survive in a small town. I’ve wondered if it could be turned into some sort of housing like they do with old factories in the Southeast, but the area around Polo probably wouldn’t support that economically either. It’s just not big enough. It’s amazing what’s hidden away in some corners of the state, and sad that those things aren’t living up to their potential.
Just how big is Polo? My father once speculated it would be impossible to get lost in Polo because it’s so small. In many ways, that’s comforting. I’ve always felt safe in that town. Surprisingly, there are even smaller towns. One of my college friends came from such a town not so far from Polo. I asked how she knew Polo was bigger. She responded that Polo had a restaurant that wasn’t a bar. Strange qualification, but as far as I can find, it’s still true.
For me, Polo is a very American sort of small town. It’s a familiar yet different place where I come to be with my relatives. I hope to be seeing more of it this summer.
Next Week: Time or The Woods
I’ll tweet when I have a better idea of what I’m doing.