It’s the start of my weekend, perhaps your humpday… but whatever Wednesday is to you, it’s definitely time for another photo or two carefully removed from the thin, crappy protective covers in The Nest’s torn and tattered Picture Day album of shitty photography.
Let’s take a look at my hometown today. If you’re imagining some Rockwellian scenes of classic Americana or the mundane, sterile repetitiveness of suburbia right now…. well, your eyes and your nose are going to be in for a big surprise…
That is the local coke plant, about a mile from where I grew up and maybe two miles from where I sit and type this post today. No, they don’t make
pop soda there… coke is a fuel made from coal and is used to power blast furnaces for the steel industry that is Granite City’s chief industry (At least when the plants haven’t laid everyone off). You have not lived until you’ve seen the sky light up bright orange in the middle of the night when a red hot load of slag has been dumped. This, the constant tremors from all of that machinery, and the steel flake snow showers that are common year-round and turn everything outside glittery are some of the things I grew up with… and having lived my entire life here, can’t possibly imagine anything else being the norm.
If the gritty, sooty coke and steel industry doesn’t quite grab you, then let me introduce you to my longtime neighbor Air Products, a chemical plant that specializes in turning those ordinary gases we enjoy breathing in our atmosphere into drinkable liquids at temperatures just shy of absolute zero. I lived directly across the street from this oversized laboratory for 31 years, and even having been in my new neighborhood for seven years now, it still seems strange to look out my window and not see big white smoking towers and huge tanks storing God-only-knows what. Nothing will quite top the Saturday morning I came home from work in 2007 and found the building that is just out of the right frame of this photo on fire…. with no firefighting crew or anyone on the scene yet. It’s the first and hopefully last time in my life I was ever part of an evacuation!
Thankfully, the fire was contained and nothing blew to kingdom come as we’d long feared would eventually happen. And of course since this incident made the news, all of the spokespeople for the company said there was never any danger, and that they don’t manufacture anything explosive…
Well, since I’m still alive and here to tell about it, I guess I’ll spin another photo-inspired story next Wednesday….