The Ghosts of MIddletown

Last weekend we had an itty-bitty taste of spring. Temperatures crept into the 60’s and so I decided to hop on the Bonnie and visit a few of the pins on my Google Maps app.

If I don’t look at the Streetview of a pinned item, sometimes I’m not sure what will be waiting for me when I turn up at the coordinates. At some point, I’d saved a cluster of stops in Middletown, New York. Based on my general familiarity with the area and their proximity to each other, I assumed they were ghost signs – and I was right.

This multi-layered ghost was hard to read in person. Sometimes tweaking a photo’s colors can help you read parts of the signs you can’t see with the naked eye. But other times the fade or overlapping is just too vague.

  • Synder Fancher & Company | Wholesale Grocers | Importers & Jobbers
  • Duluth Imperial Flour | Without a Rival
  • Altec | (distributors?)

When I go looking for ghosts, it isn’t uncommon for me to find myself in the parts of town that are economically challenged, their heyday long since passing them by. I’ll wind up in front of silent brick shells where factories once billowed steam, near old railroad stations and tracks, and often in areas that have fallen on hard times.

  • Gold Medal Flour | Eventually | Why Not Now | Bakes Best Bread

Riding towards home after snapping a few photos, it occurred to me that invariably when I am in these areas, I will encounter people walking on the street. And these people are more often than not, curious and friendly. They’ll flash a smile, give a hello and offer some chit-chat about my bike.

  • Snyder & Fancher | Wholesale Grocers
  • Duluth Imperial Flour

As I mulled over my interactions with people on the street I thought about my range of experiences on the different rungs of the economic ladder. Some stranger in an astronaut suit milling around snapping photos of a burned out factory doesn’t seem to raise suspicion in people. Just something to ponder…



Rachael is the whimsical writer behind the 20+ year old Girlie Motorcycle Blog. As a freelance blogger, she is on a mission to inspire laughter, self-examination, curiosity, and human connection. Girlie Motorcycle Blog can be found on several Best Motorcycle Blog lists.

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4 Responses

  1. I’m always impressed with what you see on the road. I look at my own photos and they’re just empty landscapes. Yours on the other hand, even when reflecting ghosts, are richer because of the reflections of human activity. I think it’s time I start imitating your approach and see what happens.

    The road in the first photo — I’ve seen it in ads (I think. Is that along the Delaware river?). I’ve always wanted to visit there to see the road winding along the water. But it never occurs to me to explore the towns and villages.

    Perhaps the next time I go for a ride I’ll not head toward the wilderness…

    Fine rides you’re sharing.

    • Fuzzygalore says:

      Thanks, Steve 🙂

      That’s an interesting perspective but I don’t happen to agree. From my point of view, my pics are casual snapshots or recordings of a thing – and your photographs are artfully/mindfully composed feelings, echoes of your person. I suppose that’s one of the differences between some dope with a camera and a photographer.

      That road is Route 97 along the Delaware, referred to as Hawk’s Nest – just northwest of Port Jervis, NY. Other than that very short wriggle, the road is mostly fast-paced big sweeping turns with limited views of the river along the way. My version of you thinks the road is too big.

      I dunno – are you looking to challenge yourself? Anecdotally, I like to doodle. when I don’t do it “my way” and I try to adopt someone else’s something – to the casual observer there may be no difference in the result. But for me, it feeeeeels wrong. Is it similar with photographic subjects?

      • You may think “snapshot” when you look at your photographs. But I can tell you, I’ve seen a lot of snapshots over the years and yours are in a class by themselves. It amazes me how people, with amazing technology in their hands, can so thoroughly screw up a snapshot. Yours are consistently great. You know what you are after and you capture it well. Despite what you like to tell yourself — you’re no dope with a camera.

        Port Jervis. I’ve driven through there dozens of times. Never took the time to get off the interstate. My bad.

  2. Ted says:

    Ah yes…. The Hawk’s Nest. I’ve had the pleasure as well. Part of last year’s Motorcycle Men Spring Classic was a trip to the Nest via High Point and Arlene & Tom’s Diner just before Port Jervis. We did an out and back on the Nest that took us to Barryville and back to PJ. Then back into Jersey down River Road to Old Mine Road, the northern sections.

    I too am a Google Maps/Street-view freak. When planning a ride, I nearly street view the whole thing. Sometimes I randomly zoom into a spot on a map and street view it and if it’s interesting enough, I’ll figure out a route to get there, fly it into Basemap and dump it onto my Garmin and off I go. I’m such a geek. Street View rocks!!!

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