The Rebuilders

(If you subscribe to JSP, and you get this post twice, apologies. Some of the images didn’t come over in the first. Trying this againe…)

Tearing stuff down. Building it back up.

We all do it every day of our lives, to some degree.

Some are minor projects, some are the biggies.

Manhattan. Staten Island.

Suits. Lunch pails.

That’s a gross overexaggeration, of course, but Manhatten and Staten Island are two very different places but part of one great city.

Both, as such, have rebuilders.

A few weeks ago, BS – Before Sandy – I went into New York to attend the PDN Photo Plus Expo. Held at the Javitts Center, most people, at least those walking, headed down 9th Ave near 38th and came across the baby blue ’52 Cadillac that was being worked on in front of an old garage.

A couple of older gentlemen – one white, one black – were doing various things on it or two it. Checking this, working on that. A pan here, a rag there.

Nearly everyone I saw that walked by it going to PPE or coming out of it, took pictures of the car. Hey, the world’s best shoots were just yards away, and we were all geeking out a bit.

I’m sure the owner (more on him in a minute) of the car was getting annoyed. But, hey, you have a trove (a pack? a bevy? a milling?) of photographers walking by, your fine, old autombile is going to get shot.

Of course, I had to shoot it too. I’ve been on a classic car kick lately and this fit the stream nicely. Who can pass up a ’52 Caddy, even if it looked like it was sitting there SINCE 1952?

But then I had to get a little human perspective. As I said, two guys were working on the car. An older white gentelman in black slacks, blazer and mustache. And a black gentleman, flowing sweater and glasses.

When I asked who the owner was, the black fellow said “I am.” And so, I met Amadoo.

Amadoo told me he was from Senegal, now living in New York. He told me, actually, that he didn’t own it, his niece did. She got it from her grandfather. Amadoo was trying to bring it back to life for her.

He let me take my photos, and then I told him about my 100 Strangers project. I asked if I could photograph him with the car, and include him in my project. He agreed. I asked if he could sit inside it. He agreed. He became #88 in my project.

I gave him my card, told him I’d send him a print if he emailed me his address. Haven’t heard from him.

And then Hurrican Sandy happened. Feels like we all lost the last two weeks of our lives when the lights and power went out and the waves crashed and the trees fell. A lot of us are still “digging out.”

Us lucky ones, it’s just the “work stuff” – emails, cancelled meetings, workouts.

Then those are others, those who are digging out a helluva lot more….

Last Friday, I met up with about 15-20 of my colleagues on Staten Island. They were going to meet with a rep from Rebuild Staten Island to get some work done…the work that needed to be done.

This kind of work was done with picks and shovels and trash bags in hand. We were given the names of two families that sustanined horrible water damage to their homes, their little patches of world. One woman, “P” as she told us to call her, needed her whole first floor gutted so that it could start to be dried out and rebuilt, allowing her asthsmatic 12-year-old son to return.

My Little Man, she called him.

So, we got to work on that one and, within a few hours, the first floor was gutted. I won’t lie. I was there to record the day via still images for my company. While the dust was flying, I was looking for photos to document the day. My boots got dirty but my hands didn’t. Maybe the should have.

Anyway, while there, I met another guy working on a car. Well, all he was doing was taking the license plates off his SUV.

See, the SUV have its hindquarters up ON TOP OF another car. The SUV had been parked about 50 feet up the street.

When the flood waters crashed, the SUV was no match.

The man I met, Ralphie, talked to me about watching the waters enter his house, rising up to his chest. He had his arms outstretched above him.

His cats were in his hands.

Ralphie seemed like a pretty tough hombre. Tough enough to brave the rising flood waters to save his cats.

I asked to take his portrait next to his SUV and he said sure. He’s #89 in my 100 Strangers project.

Raphie said he lost a lot. Stuff in his house. His SUV. His mom’s house lost a lot.

What he didn’t lose was perspective. Or his will to fight.

“We’ll get it back,” he told me. “Staten Island is tough. We’ll back and better than ever.”

They’ll rebuild.

That’s what they do.

© Mark V. Krajnak 2012 | JerseyStyle Photography | All rights Reserved

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One thought on “The Rebuilders

  1. Pingback: New Tear Sheet: Corporate Work | JerseyStyle Photography

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