Sunday, May 22, 2011

Old Timey Baseball

Just a little break from my ongoing story.  Shot the Cubs v Sox game on Saturday at Fenway.  The teams donned circa 1918 style uniforms as a nod to the year that the Cubs were last in town.  They even went so far as to bring in old announcers with big megaphones that walked around and called out the players at bat.  Pretty cool.  I shot the introductions with a lens that I thought would fit the mood.  It adds a heavy vignette on the edges of the photo and allows me to shoot in a shallow depth of field.  My intent was to give the images that old timey feel.  Have a look and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Weekly Rentals - John Michael

John Michael.

Deb, the manager of the motel, had told me a lot about John, before I had even ventured to his room.  For one, he is an alcoholic and in her words is 'drinking himself to death'.   The other story that she told me repeatedly is from when he was living in the guest home across the street.  The guest house is part of the motel property but can legally allow for long term residents.  John was living there for awhile and people had gotten used to his routine.  One day some of the residents realized they hadn't heard or seen John in a few days, and they were starting to get concerned.  So Deb checked on him and found him on the floor in rough shape and called for an ambulance.  He spent some time in the hospital.  During that time, there was a major fire in the guest house.  Deb thinks that if he hadn't been hospitalized he probably wouldn't have made it out.

John is wheelchair bound and spends most of his days drinking, and watching movies on AMC.  He can often be seen making a regular trip to the liquor store a block away.  Residents joke that it takes him three hours.

He has been in his current motel room for over a year.  He used to live in Florida and worked as a computer repair technician.  He also spent some time as a farmer in upstate New York.  He moved to the Cape with his wife but things didn't work out, and ended in divorce.  He does have adult children but they don't live in the state and he doesn't see them often.

For food he receives meals from the local Meals on Wheels program, and sometimes from concerned neighbors.  Deb has removed the curtain to his back window so that she can check on him from the office.  If she doesn't see his silhouette in the window for more than a day then she will head down to his room and check on him in person.  She doesn't want him to die in the motel.

If he is forced out of the motel he thinks he will probably end up in a shelter.  He wants to move to the motel across the street that has been turned into condominiums, but isn't sure if that will ever happen.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Weekly Rentals - An introduction

The West Yarmouth Lodgings on Route 28 in West Yarmouth is one of many motels along that stretch of road that advertise weekly rates.  For many residents who are seasonal workers, underemployed or unemployed, the motel has become an affordable and stable long term housing option.  Unlike an apartment rental the motel does not require a renter to pay first, last, and security deposit before moving in.  The other bonus is that the utilities are all included.  The downside is that the rooms are small, they don't have a full kitchen, and they can be drafty in the winter.  There is also the matter of crime.  The Yarmouth Police are not unfamiliar with the motels and some of their residents.

In January of 2011, a Barnstable Superior Court judge ruled that the motel was in violation of the town's motel zoning bylaw that limited motel stays to 30 days or 90 days in a six month period.  The ruling came with a deadline requiring that all residents must be out of the motel by May 1, 2011.  The motel owner appealed the ruling and eventually submitted a proposal to the town to avoid a mass eviction.  He has come up with a plan to update the buildings so it will be properly zoned to allow for long term residents.  In the meantime the town is reaching out to residents by pulling together healthcare, housing, job and food assistance agencies for help.

I have been visiting the West Yarmouth Lodgings since Februrary in an attempt to tell the story of some of the residents who live there. This is the first installment of many in what is a still developing story.

West Yarmouth, MA - Februray 9, 2011: Deborah Bellows (L) Manager of the West Yarmouth Lodgings motel, chats with a resident who withheld his name.  Bellows has been managing the motel for over eight years and lives on the property.  Photo by Matthew Healey

West Yarmouth, MA - Februray 13, 2011: Phil Cripps (C) plays a video game while his wife Sherry Foster (2nd-R) talks on the phone and his 19-year-old son Nathan Cripps (R) looks on.  Daughter Jasimine Cripps, 12-years-old plays a game on a handheld device on her parents bed.  The Cripps family have been living in the motel for almost two years.  Phil is currently unemployed and looking for work but wife Sherry and son Nathan work as dishwashers at a nearby hotel.  Photo by Matthew Healey

West Yarmouth, MA - February 15, 2011: "This is my home" says Debbie Lopes, who has been living at West Yarmouth Lodgings for 8 years with her husband.  She saves on her rent by cleaning rooms at the motel.  Photo by Matthew Healey

West Yarmouth, MA - February 24, 2011: Tiffany Rose takes her 14-month old daughter Jenna Marie Rose for a walk in her stroller in front of the motel.  Tiffany has been living in the motel since October and is only able to stay because she has been offered reduced rent.  She is expecting her second child soon and said that if she is forced to leave the motel her only other option is a homeless shelter.  Photo by Matthew Healey

West Yarmouth, MA - March 22, 2011: Michelle MaCura (C) plays with daughter Neveah Martin as Neveah's dad Joe Martin (L) looks on.  The three have been living in the West Yarmouth Lodgings since August of 2010.  Photo by Matthew Healey

West Yarmouth, MA - March 9, 2011:  John Michael, who has been living at the West Yarmouth Lodgings off and on for two years, watches television in his room.  Photo by Matthew Healey