I was invited to "visit" with the occupant of a house I was taking pictures of the other day after the brief conversation had with him after he called to me from his balcony. The house was old, broken, and fading, with the sort of warmth that comes with years of being lived in. His tone was a mixture of cantankerous neighbor and concerned friend. He asked why I was taking pictures and I told him I thought the houses were "interesting."
His tone changed after he decided I was harmless and I went into his house, which smelled of fresh wood, smoked in a rusty iron stove. The house was strewn with anything and everything you might find in a supply/junk shack, and there was even a Triumph motorcycle near the bathroom.
He (Steve, 45ish) talked mostly, of his past, his son, the house, and how he became the tenant of this curious and aged home. It turns out he watches over the 'wood-chip yard' across the small street in front of the house. He's been doing it for about 10 years and from what I gleaned from watching him bark questions and answers across the road to some perspective customers, he's practiced and pretty good at it.
Steve let me take a few quick portraits (I wish I would have asked him to smile; I was pretty nervous after he asked me if I worked for the paper; It was also the first time I can remember asking to take someone's picture while having a full-blown conversation) and then we walked back into the house. He told me more of his working background, most interestingly about some time he spent in Japan building log cabins, and we generally had good conversation. It was easy talking to him because I didn't really have to say much. He sort of led the way, and I could tell that he might not have a lot of friends.
On my way to the door he offered me a slice of pizza, which I thought was pretty cool, made sure to get my e-mail address and give me his phone number, got excited about possibly seeing his picture online, and dropped me a quick fact about how one of his friends slept with a stewardess, coming home from Okinawa, on the food-cart of an airliner.
I also took some pictures of the surrounding area, which is pretty cool too. The first one is of Steve's garage/apartment/spare-bedroom.
Q & A with Josef Chladek
1 week ago