Aladdin’s Lamp Revisited


Silo---the tiny red arrow is where Aladdin's Lamp is found

When I was married, I didn’t have a car, at least, not one available to me during the day. I hated staying in the house so I walked everywhere. I lived a few blocks from the Monon Trail (a converted railroad track) and I would walk from 106th street in Indianapolis, Indiana up to Main Street in Carmel, Indiana, roughly a three mile walk. Along the way is an industrial area that is not in use anymore. Some kitschy shops have sprung up in the warehouses along the trail but there is this HUGE silo that has been abandoned for years. It always fascinated me and I loved to photograph it.

The last time I walked the Monon Trail was back in 2008. Following my divorce I moved south to a small community called Irvington, still part of Indianapolis but too far away to walk the Monon. However, Irvington was not a good place for me. Even though it’s a wonderful little community where everyone knows everyone else and they have summer picnics and music on the circle on south Audubon Ave, it’s not my preferred life-style. After a series of funny-but-terrifying experiences (and some not-so-funny) I left Irvington and moved back north where I felt safer.

I’ve been doing this 365 Days Journey Through the Past project where I upload a photo taken on today’s date but on a day sometime in my past. Recently I posted a couple of photos that I took of portions of this silo in 2006 and that I titled “Aladdin’s Lamps” and “Aladdin’s Companion”. I began to wonder what has time done to them? Today I drove to the Monon Trail to find out.

I parked my car in a parking lot near the Monon and went for a short walk through brisk, cold air and gloppy mud in order to check my lamps. Below I’ve posted the photos I took back in 2006 next to the photos I took today. Perhaps I should have rubbed the lamp, and kept rubbing the lamp hoping for a genie. Perhaps all that rubbing would have kept it from the inevitable decay of time.

Aladdin's Lamp 2006

Aladdin's Lamp 2006

Aladdin's Lamp 2012

Aladdin's Lamp 2012


Aladdin’s Lamp 2012 looks gaunt compared to what it looked like six years ago. I didn’t think that was possible for metal. The connections look eroded, like ill-fitting, painful joints and the surface is pock-marked with age. Vines reach out for it and grasp it, whispering how they will embrace it and build a strong shelter for it. But what the vines don’t tell it is that they will one day consume it. I know this; I have seen it. It takes time, but it happens.

Silo Door 2006

Silo Door 2006

Silo Door 2012

Silo Door 2012

The difference between the silo doors is obvious, also. One of my lamps is gone. I added red arrows to show where the lamps are and as you can see in Silo Door 2012, the right lamp is missing. In Silo Door 2006 vines crawl across the facade, and in Silo Door 2012 they hang all over the front like an abandoned web. The skeletal canopy juts out over the landing in both photos but Silo Door 2012 is starting to bow and what was left of the sheet metal roofing has tumbled to the ground. In Silo Door 2012 there are added swatches of pale-blue paint; to cover up graffiti?

I love abandoned things. I love the character that comes through. However, I’m worried about my silo. I knew it during an earlier stage in its decline and it was perfect then. Now it’s looking old and waiting for demolition. But who will do the demolition—man? nature? or time?


About Dezra Despain

Life is full of stories waiting to be revealed.

Posted on February 20, 2012, in Musings and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. It’s amazing how fast things change. It’s kind of scary to see nature do it’s thing so quickly. There was a book/tv series about the world without man, and how fast nature would take over. It was fascinating.

    I’m glad you found your home again. I know how it is, living in a place that is thought to be perfect, but knowing that your heart doesn’t belong there.

    Great post, Dezra! 🙂

    • I watched a PBS special a long time ago about nature. They had time-lapsed photography on a particular vine that climbed up a tree and devoured it. It was rather disturbing. I respect nature because of it and I contend that in the end, nature will win. And don’t even get me started on ants. *shudder*

  2. I share your fascination with the study of old and aging things and the recuperative powers that nature has to reclaim what is not actively maintained. When we contemplate her on the grand scale of events and her role in the inevitable entropy, she really puts things into perspective and makes our momentary studies of their current state all the more valuable. Keep doing what you do so well!

    • Thanks Gary. Nature is a great teacher if you just listen to her. I’ve learned valuable things from her and I’m really not a nature buff! But I do like nature for its recuperative powers…both on the environment and in me.

  3. Fascinating to the see the changes over time

  4. great story Desra. i got a profound sense of having very personal memories trapped in inanimate objects all over the landscape, without it being gushingly sentimental. a great project, and beautifully written.

  5. Great post. What is that show called……earth without man? Eventually nature reclaims everything and everybody.

  6. That’s exactly the shape of Aladdin’s lamp in my mind too. Great story, Dezrah. I love the way you describe your thoughts and perspective of this object. Regards.

  7. Thanks for the background on the lamps. Great example of a well-illustrated feature story. Hope you submit this piece to a print media.

    • Hmmm. Perhaps the day they tear it down (and I think they will tear it down…hello! It’s CARMEL…on the Monon…near the Palladium and the Arts District), I might consider sending it somewhere….

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