Text and photograph by Bruce Berman
A lot of America is gone.
It was laying around for years, decades, a century.
Cars, appliances, farm implements, things.
In the Depression era it was laying there, left over from the “teens.” In the 60s it was laying around from the 30s.
There is less and less laying around “out there” now.
Is it that that “stuff,” has a higher monetary value as we use more and more of our heavy resources? Is it the lure of kitsch? Is it just a recycle time? Is it that stuff from the 30s has just weathered away and the stuff that came after it, much of it made from plastic (which is made from petroleum) has disintegrated more rapidly than the old stuff did, its “nostalgia life” shorter lived.
Whatever it is there is less of it.
Driving around the backlands, Russell Lee’s Road, it is becoming uncommon to find these old monuments. They have gone to the restorers, to the collectors, they are valuable.
To a photographer exploring the roads of The Other America these roadside object de America were a treasure.
The were valuable as a sign of endurance, of our connection to our past and to a past era of industrialization and agriculture.
They’re still out there but you have to drive deeper and deeper into the backlands.
Perhaps that’s where America has gone.
Perhaps that’s where the real value still lays.