Friday, July 28, 2006

Thomas Brown, keeping watch ...

It is not always so easy for me to seperate myself from the subjects that I meet, interview and/or photograph in the course of my photojournalism. As was the case when on 28 January 2006 that I would meet Ken Wyban at 21 N Street, in SE. Earlier that Sunday afternoon I photographed many of the buildings in the area including 84 N Street which is at the corner of First and N Streets directly across from the Southwest Federal Center and Navy Yard. Whereas 21 N Street is in the opposite direction and on the other side of N Street nearest to South Capitol Street.

It was when I would return to the area on 6 February which supposedly was the last day for the residents and tenants in the area to remain in their respective places that I would first meet, interview and photograph Joe Woodbridge, the owner and operator of District Transmission for more than 37 years. Though most had already vacated by 6 February, a few including District Transmission had not. However, an extension would give them another month, until 6 March when all residents, tenants and owners of business was to have vacated. I would return on 7 March which was the day after.

Over the next few weeks and months I would often return to the area and on some occasions reconnect with either the father or the son, keeping up on the developments and status in finding a new place to relocate to in the PG County area. My photo of his son with two other men was published in the May 2006 issue of The Washington Spark.

When I would return to the area on Wednesday, 26 July 2006 though most of the buildings have been demolished or are vacant I had a feeling that someone would still be at 84 N Street in SE WDC. From a distance I'd observe that the door was open. I walked within a few feet of the opened door, peeped in but, at first, did not see anyone. As I began to walk away, a man stepped out side and said 'Hey!'

Glad to see him I'd ask if he was one of the three men that I had interviewed and photographed in February. He said that he was not sure but that he remembered me. Apparently, after the posting of my photos to flickr several other news gatherers had visited the shop and had interviewed Mr. Woodbridge and his son.

I asked if I coluld step inside and take a few photos of him and get some update on the status of Joe Woodbridge 's transition. He said yes . After introducing myself to him and shaking his hand I asked 'What is your name?"

He said "Thomas Brown". I would then inquire if he stayed there. He said yes ... so to speak ... and that he was watching over the place for Mr. Woodbridge making sure that things are ok. Now 64 years of age, Mr. Brown was born in Queens NY and moved to the WDC area since he was 48. An advantage of being so close to the construction projects is that he sometimes gets demolition work.

Handing him a $5 bill, I'd thank him for his time and said that I would return in a few days with the photos and a copy of the issue of the old Washington Spark that published the photo of the 3 men from District Transmission.

It is not always easy for me to seperate myself from the subjects that I meet, interview and photograph ...

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