The Weekend (Photo Book II)

One weekend.  One camera.  One story.

The Weekend: Helen aka Grandma

Bed Stuy Brooklyn

Summer 2013

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When’s the last time you spent a weekend with your grandmother?  Visits to my grandparent’s houses were a common thing as a child (I practically lived at my great grandmother’s house) but as I got older time seemed to do the same and the reality of having enough of it quickly died.  Long weekend trips were shortened to lively afternoon or evening visits.  For this weekend, I stayed with my grandmother and became a child again.  While stealing moments to be frozen in time with my camera I forgot about the world outside of 45 Fulton.  I was a child again.  A 29-year-old kid, following my grandmother around with an inquisitive mind and even more inquisitive camera.

This is The Weekend:  Grandma.

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My grandmother has been living in “Bed Stuy” Brooklyn for over 15 years.  She works as a bus matron for The Board of Education in NYC.  Her residence, once a beautiful private dwelling in a prime location for the quickly gentrifying Brooklyn, is now a decaying eye sore thanks to its former slum lord.  The property has been taken over by the city and is currently being renovated.

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Grandma lives on the top floor of a three-story walk up.  After the city’s renovations are complete she will be able to move into the vacant first floor apartment, easing the stress of her ailing legs from making the daily climb up the stairs.

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Grandma enjoying a late afternoon smoke on the roof.

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My grandmother has a lot of nail polish, watches, perfume, lotion, pots, books, electronics…everything.  She has a lot of everything.  Not only does she have a lot of everything, she has two of everything thus earning her house the nickname “KMART Best”.  Before I go shopping for anything I go to her house.  Chances are, she has it.

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Tiny the cat.  My grandmother rescued Tiny after a neighbor tossed her and another cat out onto the street.  I suggested that she call her Tiny because she was very skinny when she was first rescued (a trip to the vet revealed that she had tape worms).  After some medication and TLC from Grandma, Tiny became anything but…tiny.

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Late game of solitaire.

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Sunday breakfast.

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There’s something about having your grandmother cook you breakfast.  She hasn’t cooked breakfast for me in years and it was the best breakfast that I have had in a while.  It had nothing to do with what she made and everything to do with the fact that SHE made it.

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Heading to the store.

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Streets.

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Supermarket for Sunday dinner.

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“When I think of Fulton street…”

My grandmother will probably be the hardest subject that I have had to capture because she HATES taking pictures.  She would not cooperate for any of my pictures (this was expected) and refused to even look at the camera for several shots that “required” her oh so angelic face to gaze lovingly into the camera…of course she did.  She’s not a paid actor, she’s not a model or celebrity.  She’s Helen.  My grandmother.  Daughter of Edith Pitts.  Mother of Tonia Best.  The tough on the outside, soft on the inside, intelligent, hard-working, often stubborn and determined woman who proudly resides in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn New York.  While preparing to take my final picture of her I asked if she would finally smile for the camera.  She did. Of course not for the camera, but for me.

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