Castoffs

Photo taken today on the south side of Wisconsin Avenue, somewhere between 35th and 12th Streets; can’t recall exactly where.

This struck me as an interesting assortment of “forgotten” things, so I took the picture while stopped at a traffic light.

I haven’t seen a pay phone in a long time. Nor a phone number like the one in the faded “FOOD MARKET” sign on the wall bearing an old alphanumeric exchange, “WEST 4520.”

And even that wall itself manages to show off some history in the old Cream City brick—made in Milwaukee and the source of our town’s “Cream City” monicker—displayed here in all its variety of appearance: black where it was exposed to weather over the years, grayish beige where it was painted over and thus partially protected by the “ghost sign” 50+ years ago, and creamy yellow where it somehow remained completely protected from the elements.

At the time I took the picture, I didn’t notice the discarded “ROAD WORK AHEAD” sign leaning against the wall. But looking at the photo now, I can see that it fits right in with the other relics here.

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
This entry was posted in History, Life, Milwaukee, Photography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Castoffs

  1. Sally Cissna says:

    This may be the best picture you’ve ever taken. What a combination of new (Miller Lite sign) and old. Add to it the variation in brick color, the metal window protection in the upper right and the sign tilted against the wall and it is just marvelous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow—thank you, Sally!❤️

      Like

    • I was just looking at this photo again in light in light of your comment (because since you liked it so much, I wanted to figure out why it was “working “ so to speak), and I noticed for the first time that the front and side of the building are covered with the skeletal remains of vines.

      Maybe the entire surface turns leafy green in the summer, and this is how it looks in winter?

      Or maybe someone tore the vines away but didn’t have the heart to undertake the laborious follow-up work of removing the suckers.

      The vine wants to stay. That tenacity implies a will to endure that’s also evident in the photo’s other elements. So maybe instead of “Castoffs,” a more appropriate title would be “Tenacity.” Or “Endurance.” Or “Survivors.”

      Renaming the photo and post would have the added benefit of considering the subject matter from a more optimistic perspective—a far better way to process the world’s ugliness anyway.

      In fact, maybe the best prime lens for mediating the world and framing our experiences should be one that has a glass-half-full fixed focal length!😂

      Like

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