by Tim Gilmore, 9/14/2015
Outside the Forest Street warehouse in Brooklyn, as we walk toward the old car, I realize I’ve been taking pictures of cobwebbed corners, old iron pipes, blurred oceans of the tops of books receding into dark bricked distances, dirty sunlight through rusted exhaust fans, fluorescent tube lights dangling over shelves of arcana, but I’ve never snapped a shot of this old Ford. Every time I talk to Ron, two or three people or couples or small groups of friends walk down Laura Street and pose and take pictures by the car.
So I crouch, zoom slightly, and shoot a picture myself, hardly original. It’s only later, when I sync my camera on my laptop, that I see it. There’s the front license plate, “Real Books, Chamblin’s.” There’s the big round headlights either side of the shield-shaped grille. The elegantly curved fenders swoop up, over, and down the other side of the wheels. But it’s the cross I’d not noticed.
Driving over, we passed several small churches, with which these old Southern neighborhoods were stuffed, block by block. Ron loves to drive through old working-class and long-poor neighborhoods and we moved slowly past lines of shotgun houses, clotheslines in side yards, old black men with gray beards and young men with dreadlocks on porches. “You know what you should do, it would make a phenomenal book, you should get good photography and short stories about all these old and tiny churches all across the city.”
Now Macedonia Primitive Baptist Church, built in 1934, stretches its white bell tower, peaked with a plain wooden cross, up behind the ’34 Ford in such a way that the peak and cross seem to rise from the back center of the old Bonnie and Clyde Death Car.
As if we hadn’t known these streets moved us deep down into and through the always-sinking South.