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Flat Rock: A Photo Tour (Addendum)

Depressing Beauty













September 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Flat Rock: A Photo Tour (Part Six)

The Yard


It’s like the Henry Ford, only with the honesty of graffiti and neglect.

Even if you know Flat Rock, you might not know about this train yard. It’s not very big and it’s sort of off a side street that doesn’t have much of anything on it besides this little twin track space and a building that used to take rail traffic. These empty cars were just left to rust and their molecules returned to the earth by the longest possible route.


Across the road, an angry Mother Nature looks on, patiently waiting to reclaim what was hers. Her sentinels already seem to be stretching out to take back these cars.


September 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Flat Rock: A Photo Tour (Part Five)

The Great Ghost


Here we have the place that Cthulu would erupt from, if he bothered to be at such a place.

That’s where my cousin worked, before they went under. He got another job, at another place that went under. Thus did the journey of his death begin, with a lack of funds and spiritual loss, leading to not being able to see a doctor, spiraling problems and the eventual end. Good thing we don’t have socialized medicine, otherwise a good man that everyone liked might have lived. Who wants that?

Well, enough of that! Let’s get to the big thing shall we, the thing I’ve been building up to. The grand monument of a town that is dying right before our eyes, let’s get to where the shopping plaza used to be…

As you can see, the place isn’t completely dead. Off in the distance you can see that McDonalds is doing business. Only place most of these poor bastards can afford to eat now.

Used to be a Food Town here. Until it closed and they took every thing out. Was a drug store too, once upon a time. I neglected to get a good shot, but there was also once a Kmart here. That too is gone, they’ve all gone. Gone to Hemingford Home, or if not there, then away to Boulder.

There are no carts, no cars, nothing left. Just a sign from a day when they could put cursive under the printing because people could read it.

Not even floor tiles, they’ve stripped this place.

I’m not naïve enough to believe they’re cleaning the place up to refurbish it. This is a dead spot. You can feel it when you step over it. It’s a shunned place. Even the teenagers don’t hang out here.

Even the benches were taken apart, leaving only this glyph for the cultural anthropologist in you to decipher. I’m guessing this reads “We’ve gone to Boulder, do not tarry here.”

Grass higher than my knee.

You can see the remains of those who left.

Some places simply moved, some went under, some are still trying to hold on with everything they’ve got. I would like to salute them, but all I can really do is shake my head and walk away.

September 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Flat Rock: A Photo Tour (Part Four)

I’ll be honest, it doesn’t much matter to me if anyone is looking at these particular posts. I’ve just got to get his out so anyone interested will understand what my problem is with a place that seems to be just trying to get by. I don’t know if it’s going to fully come through, and I don’t really care. I’ve got to get it done.

Becoming a Ghost Town


Did you think I was joking about the date thing? They even stamped the clock!

It caught my eye, this building. With it’s ivy and peeling paint.

See what ivy can do to brick and mortar?


Once upon a time, some one cared. Someone thought about that window. Someone tried once. Once!

No idea what was here, but it was done in the 90s. I seem to have not gotten the door, but it had one of those “globe as sunburst” designs that were hip in those days on it. Also, three pad locks.

Even the bank closed! Let that sink in for a moment.

Used car dealership went under. Big surprise right? Well, this is Michigan. You MUST have a car here or people from Ford and GM come round your house and beat you with sticks.

I guess that, eventually, it did become a problem.

Before it became another ghost town monument, they used to do auto repair.

More vines, they’ll take over soon.

There must be some poem here, something about no one being left to prevent the rust from taking hold.

It took years of neglect to get to the point.

To be fair, this place is still active. All they’ve got left is taking away the rocks for gravel.
I’ve got nothing and now they’re taking that way too.

September 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Flat Rock: A Photo Tour (Part Three)


The School my mother went to.

Flat Rock’s Public School! Actually, I believe this building is just administration now. There is a larger building for school. You’ll notice that the building says A.D. 1911 on it. That’s not a ‘good old days’ thing, Flat Rock gets so excited when they build something new they stamp the date on it. The Rite Aid that was built in 1999 has the date it was built on it. I didn’t get a picture, but it’s true.

Now you might notice something, about the building. Look close, something about the windows.

This is the other side of the building. They put that A.D. 1911 arch on two sides of the building. The brickwork is very nice, but things are falling apart.

More crumbling masonry. Sad, my grandfather was a Mason, would he have stood for this when he lived there? Probably, the Free Masons didn’t really muck around with brickwork much when he was a member.

I only point it out because as I said before, this defines the place for me more than anything else does. The place is defined by the word “crumbling” in my mind. Even the stone can’t keep the forces away.

Again with the windows! You’ll notice there used to be much bigger windows here. And then they bricked them up and put in glass blocks.

Once upon a time, someone cared about building a place. They put a little style and pizzazz into the place.

And then they left it for a hundred years and let it crack away.

See the windows were all boarded up and covered over. I have no idea why, but they decided that windows sucked the big cannoli.

I just like the way this shot turned out.

This one too.

I heightened the color here so you can make out all the places where bricks have been replaced and things have been torn out and changed. Also you can clearly see all the windows that have been covered.

If you know your trends in building materials, you can even tell when they replaced the big windows with these little portals. Mid 80s to very early 90s. You can tell because you could conceivably open these. After the mid 90s they’d have been completely sealed, no question.

Again, I have to ask, why? Did the wide-open windows let in too much light? Could they be opened and allow fresh air to come in? Did they just make the place feel more like a place where a young soul could learn and grow and less like a prison? WHY?

Again, someone gave a shit once. But not much of one, as you can see (I didn’t, but pointed it out.) the lines on the name plate saying Flat Rock don’t match the columns. I think the name pieces might be replacements, put in after people stopped caring.

Note how they aren’t cracked and shattered like the masonry near them.

Also note how someone just decided to screw a light to the outside of the building. Ad hoc and neglect, as I said before.

September 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Flat Rock: A Photo Tour (Part Two)


Let’s get on with the tour, shall we?

Now what sort of building do you suppose this is? There is a hint, if you look carefully.

Hmm, low brick, chimney, some hoops in the background…

That’s right! It’s a church. The hint was the long line of handicap spots.

I took this one because I’ve always been struck by how there is no window in the front, just this brick wall.

This is represents one of my problems with Flat Rock. It’s the ad hoc, mixed with the neglect.

So interested are they in Christian Charity they put up this football goal looking bar to prevent tired truckers from entering their parking lot and having a nap.

Again, I’m always struck by the idea of crumbling concrete. It’s almost the defining image in my head.

I took the color from this last shot and then realized I didn’t have to. If anything, the full color image is more depressing.

Hey! It’s local sub shop Capt. Nemo’s! How is business these days?

Huh… empty.

Ah, that explains it. Another casualty.

This is the municipal building, but I didn’t get very good shots of it.

It’s like a silver crescent, it’s actually pretty cool.

September 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Flat Rock: A Photo Tour (Part One)

Evertime I have to go back, I keep saying that I shouldn’t have to go back again. Each time is a funeral, and I keep thinking that there is no one left in that place. Flat Rock isn’t exactly a dead town, but it always feels like its breathing its last. It’s a depressing place to go in the first place, made more so by the sole reason I’ve gone there in the last few years. Even without the funerals, it would still be a depressing place, as I will now show you.

I keep saying I should take a camera and go down there, but no one in their right mind would go to Flat Rock. If you had something very precious, that everyone in the world was trying to steal from you, I’d suggest putting it in Flat Rock Michigan. Even if you told them you’d put it there, they wouldn’t believe that anything of value could be there and they wouldn’t want to go in there and get it even if they did. Flat Rock is not a place to go to, it’s a place to come from. My mother comes from there, and that’s why we have to keep going back.

So this time, because I knew we’d be there all day. I took a camera…


I’m going to say straight out at the beginning, I’m not going to be fair to this place. It’s not all as bad as I’m going to show, but that’s not really the point. This is Flat Rock as I see it and how it affects me.

First shot, right out of the car. This is the parking lot of the funeral home.

And this is across the street. So far, not so bad. A little run down, but not any worse than any other small Mid-West town.

Of course, in many ways it is just a normal small Mid-West town, and how I hate living in the Mid-West and having to go to its small towns.

But soft, let us see what awaits us as we move through the town…

Okay, a hotel that is no longer in operation with a hand painted sign.

The Flat Rock Family Cafe seems to be doing okay. Hey, this Flat Rock actually seems like a nice place… at first.

Then you see the completely closed plaza. That whole strip mall is closed, all of it. There is nothing there now.

We’re still in town, it’s just an empty place.

Because I can only get about a thousand pictures on my three cards, I didn’t get every building that had gone out of business and thus had a huge “For Lease” sign on it.

Be very aware of these train tracks please. They’ll become important in a moment…

Another place that used to have something, but hasn’t for years. I know, because two years ago I wanted to get a few things at this place but it was gone and I had to hunt around for another shop.

With a little photo manipulation, you can see it used to be a Rite Aid.




“HEY WAIT!” I hear you cry, “Ever since those train tracks, you’ve been taking shots of far more scenic and picturesque Rockwood! Haven’t you?”

Well, yes, but in my defense, there isn’t actually a grocery store in Flat Rock anymore. The Food Mart is here in Rockwood and the freeway is right between the two towns AND my grandmother used to live on this side of town so this place is one of those spots of my youth. Also, when Mazda opened a plant in Flat Rock, they made a big national advertising campaign about it being the quintessential small American town and you can have a Mazda because Americans made it and all that. Only the place wasn’t considered quintessential enough to actually be in the commercial. Not a single frame of the commercials were actually shot in Flat Rock.

Rockwood has a water tower with their name on it, so you see how much classier they are.

From here on out, there will be only shots of Flat Rock, promise.

September 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment