Relics of an Agricultural Village: Abandoned Bench and Collapsed Shed
Decades ago, when the village of Kamen Bryag was still an agricultural settlement, homes looked outwards and, in the hours before twilight, villagers sat on roadside benches to greet and gossip with passersby. Today, as the old agricultural generation dies off and the vacation villas of urbanites take their place, homes look inward and their inhabitants relax and socialize in the privacy of backyards and walled compounds.
Nice – I can remember the same kind of thing even in Chelsea. The fathers,and sometimes the kids, would go out after dinner to get the evening editions of the paper and there would be socializing on the street. Of course the back story would be that the moms would be cleaning up after dinner! We didn’t think much about that at the time but I wonder how they felt?
Anyway, hope you are well, nice pictures and story.
Diane Villani Diane Villani Editions 285 Lafayette Street New York, NY 10012
212.925.1075 p 212.966.8411 f 646.427.1734 c
Thanks Diane! Yes, I remember the same evenings on the lower east side, the east 20s, and in my grandparents’ neighborhood near Fordham Road in the Bronx. And, you are right about the back story. In Kamen Bryag, however, the back story was different. Going back 20 years or so, to when I first got to know the village, the roadside benches were the province of elderly women. There are two possible explanations. The first is cultural (and a hypothesis), i.e. that the men worked the fields and the women the vegetable plots next to their cottages; the men came back later and, evenings, would go to the village “pivnitsa” (“drink-ery”) to get soused. The second is demographic: In Kamen Bryag and villages like it, by the 1980s, more and more men tended to work outside the village, in addition most village women tended to outlive their men by decades, making the private and public realms their province. The reasons for the early demise of men? My guess is heavy smoking, drinking, and a taste for sausages and other processed meats. By the way, I’ve been reading lately that nutritionists are now revising their long-time demonizing of animal fats. Thus, I’ve stopped abstaining from butter and have set aside tofu for homemade sausages and “head-cheese,” followed by homemade grappa, of course!
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Steve, hope you don’t mind that I used your photo of the wall bench as a guide for a watercolor I painted.
Tom… Mind? I’d be honored! Feel free to use any of my photos. If you like, I can send you larger files of any of the photos you would like to use. The price? A mere trifle: a file with a photo of the paintings the bench photos or any others might inspire plus relevant links if you post them to facebook. Happy to hear from you, S.