Do you experience moments of deja vu? Have you ever entered a room or stumbled upon a new place that makes you instantly feel like you were there before, even though you have no logical memory of being there?
I’ve had this experience a few times in my life, beginning at age 6. A couple years ago, I moved to an apartment that was set on the edge of a woods that bordered the property of an old chair factory. I discovered a walking trail that wound around the perimeter of the factory, and found myself walking on the trail several times a week. The first time I walked past the factory, it was dusk on a July evening. Long shadows fell from the edges of the building, but several of the windows were lit up brightly. There were no blinds and no people inside. No cars in the parking lot. Yet night after night, year in and year out, multiple windows would be lit up late into the evening.
I was spooked out, needless to say. In a good way. Like when you are in the mood for a good horror movie, just to get the hairs on your body to stand up on end for a bit. If it was late at night I would walk past the factory at a fast speed, looking over my shoulder every few minutes.
But I was meaning to share about the deja vu experience. It happened during the day while I was walking on the jogging trail, the one in the photo to the right. As I went around the curve, I noticed another factory further to the right. At the edge of this factory, I saw a slope of ground that I instantly knew used to support a group of picnic tables perhaps a century to a quarter century ago. And I knew that I had been there before. Not in this lifetime, of course. Suddenly, I saw a huddle of folks around the tables. I got the feeling it was during the Depression Era. I saw a man in the group who was wearing a cap, saggy white T shirt, suspenders, and baggy pants. I knew I was him. There was a heavy atmosphere over the group, and I knew something traumatic had happened. There was a fight over a woman, someone I was interested in. Some other man must have been edging in and it made me upset. There was a dropped cigar, an accidental fire, and part of the factory went up in smoke. Fast forward and I see the forlorn bunch at the outdoor tables. I’m not there, but some of the others miss me and occasionally remember me when they sit on break out at the tables on that slope of ground. The slope of ground I pass each day when the current me is out walking.
The drama is palpable but brief, only surfacing when I walk by that particular spot. I see images flashing by quickly like I’m flipping back the pages in a book really fast. I have to really focus to catch the glimpses. I feel kind of hugged each time I sense the others sitting at that table remembering the incident and missing me.
But back to the present moment. The factory here spreads out in different wings like a maze, with several different out buildings hidden in undergrowth. This outbuilding is visible from the road beside my house where I often walk, and grows into the side of a hill. It catches a breeze through the open door. Sometimes the door to this little building is open, other days when I would walk by, it would be closed.
This shot was taken mid afternoon on a hot July day as I was going by on the trail that runs alongside the factory. Fascinating that they still prop up the windows with no screens and use plug in fans. Time stopped ticking here several decades ago. Maybe we have stepped back in time to discover this old factory.
A view of the inner workings of chair assembly, taken from a sidewalk and main road running along one edge of the factory.
Another close up of some shelved chair pieces.
Getting dark on the trail where I walk, but the windows glow in a rich, otherworldly way.
Dusk, and late afternoon sun baths old factory walls.
No cars to be seen, but lights are still on and there’s the occasional whistle, wheeze and pop from somewhere deep in the underbelly of the factory.
The spook factor I get just from glancing at this photo and remembering walking past it on summer evenings is delicious, full of goosebumps. The air is heavy with cicadas and crickets and there’s a slight breeze as it gets darker.
Love the mossy, dank green aura of the overhang light here. Would often get the shivers going down this road. I would cut through here sometimes as a shortcut from the local walking trail to my backyard. No one from the factory ever seemed to mind.
The green light here always reminded me of the green globes that marked the underground metro stations in NYC. The beckoning green of a mossy underground cave saying, “Enter here.”
Always wondered about the strip of light under this shed door. Didn’t matter if I was walking by at ten o clock at night, the light was still on. I bet there was a ghost or two putting in some overtime hours, unbeknownst to the rest of the factory staff.
This is where the magic happens. The photo here cuts off the top, but there is a hinged lid on top of this contraption that opens to let steam out. Talk about jumping a mile high. First time I innocently walked down the road past this contraption, minding my own business, it let out a bellow and screech, followed by a long whistle and pop, like a huge car backfiring in your ear. I leaped in my tracks and my heart froze because the beast was right next to me. And was still randomly groaning and gasping. Then shuddering and shaking. Whoa. I imagine this is what Charlie’s Chocolate Factory sounds like. On a day when the parts are rusted and right about ready to quit, but still keep a grinding, LOL. I got used to the random explosions after a few weeks of living in the neighborhood and walking by. I miss the novelty now. No old factories where I live now.
I spent the last two months of this past summer snapping photos of the factory when I went out on walks. I knew I would be moving from the neighborhood by the time summer ended. So I was determined to capture the factory’s essence somehow. Since I had to pass through the maze of this factory from either my main street, side street, the local walking trail or the shortcut between the two, I have had plenty of opportunities to take photos. I don’t know, it’s like these old buildings got under my skin. They are full of character, personality and history. Maybe even mystery. I feel attached somehow, as if part of my story is ingrained in the memories of these peeling walls. I dunno. The labyrinth of this factory is beautiful.
I will miss you, factory.