Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Saturday at Seminole Estates: Shooting with Cheryl Maeder & Practicing French

Skirts off: House in a state of undress.
It has been two months since I first visited the Seminole Estates Mobile Home Park. I participated in the 2nd protest, sat down with the newly evicted residents, and continue to walk the streets of the community and witness its undoing. Despite the demolition on every block, the incessant drone of power tools, and the park's adjacency to the bustling Turnpike, there is something remarkably serene about the site. I see why the residents once loved this place they called "home."

Maeder was particularly attracted to the old statuary and felt somewhat like she did in Italy and Greece where she walked among the ruins.
I like to share the experience of the park with certain friends. On this Saturday, I brought photographer Cheryl Maeder along. Maeder, as I like to call her, has an affinity for subject matter that celebrates American heritage. She says, "I came there to photograph the mobile park as to me it is as Americana as apple pie." Maeder and I parked and set out on our adventure. 

(photos below, except where noted, taken by Maeder)

I passed this house often and admired the deer. Today I met the owner who will soon be abandoning it.
Preparing to go: Packing up 30 years worth.
Barbara (left) is moving back to Ohio to be with her family. Kim came down for a few weeks to assist.
First we spied Kim who came down from Ohio to help her mom empty a house. With blond hair and a royal blue outfit, Kim was a bright spot amidst a pile of garbage bags and boxes. Her mom Barbara is 79, and has lived at Seminole Estates for 30 years. Her husband was a supervisor in the community before his death 10 years ago. Barbara remembers the good old days of dances, bingo, and going to the gym. She will be abandoning her home this coming Friday - turning over the titles, gate pass, and keys in exchange for the $3,000 grant given by the Seminole Tribe of Florida to those full-time residents who qualify.

Recent knee surgery makes the rigors of packing a challenge.
Guy Johnson is preparing to move his 3 bedroom 2004 home
Maeder and I continued up the street where we met Guy. He was on the porch enjoying the fresh air. We approached and were soon invited in for a house tour. Boxes are stacked in every room; packing tape and wrapping paper are out on the dining table alongside a bottle of vodka and wine. Guy and his wife have lived at Seminole Estates for 8 years; they are not full-timers. Two years ago he resurfaced his entire driveway and fixed his roof. Guy was not surprised by the closing; rumors had been flying for years. He feels badly for the people who have nowhere to go and no means to get there. They will be relocating their home to Maralago Cay in Lantana.

Bubble wrap decor chez Yvanhoe et Monique.
Guy introduced us to his Canadian neighbors. It was here, in the company of several French-speaking persons that I unearthed my rusty francaise (and it actually felt kind of good!). Yvanhoe and Monique took us into their renovated 1972 home. They bought the house for $25,000 and invested another $30,000 into it after Hurricane Wilma. Improvements included sheet rock, ceramic tile floors, new kitchen cabinets, and new bathroom fixtures. Yvanhoe and Monique spend their winters here and are not seriously affected by the community closing. They will abandon their home and move to Maralago Cay. "I'm OK," says Yvanhoe, "But lots of the Americans aren't."

(photos below by me)

Besides the laundry room, the mailroom is the only common area left to the residents.
Some residents wanted to host a community wide yard sale, but said management would not allow it.
Next Maeder and I visited the mailroom. 

 And then we drove around some more.

I asked Maeder how she felt about the closing of Seminole Estates. She said, "What I find ironic is that the settlers came and took away the land from the Indians and now the reverse is showing up.. the ebb and flow of life.  But who really loses in this and who are not honored are the ELDERLY... that is what saddens my heart deeply.. that they are misplaced and forced to leave their homes and lives... they lived and loved there and the place is full of memories of their lives.  Now they are displaced and dont know where to go and there is no one to help them. That is what angers me." 

Photo: Cheryl Maeder

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