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Jun 2001 / the ordinary eye :: email this story to a friend

Local Color
By Thomas Crone

I like alleys.

I've liked them ever since I was a kid, kicking a soccer ball up and down the brick-lined strip between the 3400 blocks of Connecticut and Wyoming, alternately grabbing quick games of dodge ball, or flipping baseball cards. When the alley lights went on, it was time to go in, a practice that doesn't seem as in vogue today, when even the littlest kids run the avenues.

Years have passed, but I like alleys, still. After my garage was recently hit by a couple of rounds of graffiti, I stood outside, admiring the swift touch-up job applied by Operation Brightside. The fellow in the house behind mine, Adolph, came out, noting that his had been hit a couple years ago, while pointing at the paint covering it up. We chatted, while his grandson loaded dirt and turf off of his truck and into the backyard. He (not I) knew that the woman who owned my home previously had recently died. A few more pleasantries were exchanged. Then, we parted. A little alley cheer, some bonding over misfortune.

Alleys can be pleasant or horrific, depending on the part of town you hit. And, for that matter, how near to the trash pick-up day you are. Some alleys look as if World War III just passed through; others reflect the tidiness of the front of the block. They're a mixed bag, for sure.

Sometimes, you'll find a cool, little shrine or a funny, hand-made sign. You'll see animals of all stripes, from barking dogs, to cowering rabbits. In Mt. Pleasant, you might even find a yapping, agitated duck, its environment filled with split tomatoes and scattered corn.

Armed with a camera, I recently spent a couple of hours in my most-frequented neighborhoods, snapping some pix. Because alleys are cool.

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