My Default Post Title: Ugh

Another day at the dentist. I still spare you the details. I was thinking I’d treat myself to a trip to the Municipal Archives to find this photograph that has been haunting me for years.

It was a picture of a man in a shack, taken around 1915, and he was clearly living the most wretched existence, everything about it said pain, misery, screwed-over by life. I swear I saw it over ten years ago and I still think about it from time to time. How everyone gets a certain amount of luck, and varying degrees of intelligence, talent, looks, love, friends, wealth, and so on, but he didn’t get any. He was living at the bottom of the barrel on every level. I know it’s bizarre that I would consider this a treat but I want to confront this photograph. I’ve never been able to get it out of my mind.

That reminds me. There was a picture of a baby standing up in a hallway in a tenement in Part Three of Ric Burns’s New York Documentary. I think it was a Jacob Riis photograph. I immediately wondered if Mark Helprin saw this photograph and if it was the inspiration for a child in his novel Winter’s Tale. (Love that book.)

I took this while walking to the dentist yesterday. It’s like nature tried to save me and did everything it could to prevent me and my dentist from getting to the office.


Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

4 thoughts on “My Default Post Title: Ugh

  1. So sorry for your dental woes. I’ve had tons of work done over the years, it’s literally a PAIN. Have a couple bottom back teeth that will probably need crowns before too long. Argh!

    Thanks for adding a link to my blog on your site. Love the new design.

    That “haunting photo” you mentioned reminded me of one I found in the online historic archives of the 30s depression era in the South. A very thin woman is holding a child in what looks to be a homeless camp. Something about that woman’s eyes still haunt me. My grandparents told me so many stories about that time in the South, I guess I’ve imagined more to it than there is. I’ve always been a little obessed with the 30s depression era across the South, a grim time to be sure…but fascinating.

    I’ve been in this house nearly four days due to the snow/ice. I’m breaking out of this joint tomorrow! LOL

  2. Four days!! It always seems like a nice idea, to hole up for a while, but then you go crazy.

    It’s interesting how we’re attracted and haunted by the grim.

  3. I located a photo of the woman online I mentioned above. Found it at a history website, which you might want to check out. This link will take you directly to the woman’s photo/history. The site is “Eyewitness to History,” a fascinating archive to browse!

    I got some of the facts mixed up about the picture, so it was interesting to refresh my memory.

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