Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Intrusion of Time

John Wardin’s grandfather, Gustav, made a purchase one hundred years ago that shaped the future of Hillsdale. Gustav bought the Fulton Park Dairy shown here in 1905.

Earlier this week I met with John to look through a family album of old photographs. Together we gamely tried to imagine the perspectives of the photographers.

Of all the photographs, this one is the most striking because of its panorama. We are looking east from the hill where St. Barnabas Church is today. The view stretches from what was Hoffman Road (today Vermont Street) on the right to Capitol Highway on the left. The Fulton Park Dairy is dead ahead.

Intrigued by the view, I set out this afternoon to try to find the spot the photographer stood on. I wanted to update the photo.

One hundred years got in the way. Utility lines, houses, streets, trees, cars. One shot was partially blocked by the roof of a Jeep Cherokee. Another was crisscrossed by apple tree branches. Rooftops were everywhere. I considered climbing up on one to find the right angle, but then thought better of it.

So here’s the best I could do. Wilson High School is now in the distance. Rieke Elementary School is on the right. On the left is the Hillsdale Shopping Center, still owned by the Wardin family. The squirrel skittering across a utility wire is a new arrival.

But if you look closely, you see a glimpse of Hoffman-turned-Vermont on the right. A tree or two on the horizon may have survived 100 years.

And as the contours show, the place will always be “as old as the hills.”

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