Sunday, May 29, 2016

Empty the storehouses

Most of Dixie Highway in Broward County has managed to be immune to gentrification. With the exceptions of the downtowns in Oakland Park and Pompano, virtually the entire length north of Broward Blvd has remained frozen architecturally. The remaining buildings, most of which would probably clinch historic status if they weren't so busy being used for practical everyday purposes, are for the most part occupied and well-maintained. The spaces are repurposed, restaurant cuisines change, thrift stores come and go - all presided over by the FEC. It's not a derelict district, just low-rent and time worn. It is this stretch more than any other that stirs up my own nostalgic sentiment of a simpler time. The place just feels right.

Until recently, one of these untouched spots was by the tracks just south of Hillsboro Blvd. Massive old wood-sided warehouses presumably once stocked full of local produce to be shipped north stood as silent sentinels from Deerfield's agricultural past. Their voice was in their faded colorful paint schemes, delicate blues belying their rugged design. The whole complex was an ancient holdover of a less-engineered time, rough-hewn and uneven. It is now too late to take those pictures I always intended to take, to document and archive that place for the future. Still, it exists somewhere, where the light slants a certain angle and that scent in the air lets you know exactly where you are. The shock and wistfulness would be overtaken as soon as we serviced our next stop: Life.

"I just want to pardon myself for last time," came his classy confession. A few weeks earlier this gentleman had been in a brief altercation on the bus. A regular always with a yoga mat when I pick him up, he is clearly a refined and self-aware individual who had let a small-minded bully get the best of him.
"Don't sweat it, it happens," I sympathized.

At Commercial, we pick up two guys with a heavy load. Three 18-bottle cases of Heineken  are apparently not as easy to tote as one might think.
"Alright! When's the party?" I blurted out as a greeting. A quick worried glance that I was serious gave me the impression they'd invested heavily in this stockpile.
One guy swiped his pass, the other just gave it to me straight: "I blew all my money on the beer." He may have offered me a bottle in lieu of fare, which I kindly declined for the obvious reason.

What would a trip down Old Dixie be without a visit from one of its own: Ace.

At our first Central Terminal visit, we get the requisite "Just got outta jail" request for a freebie ride, complete with papers to prove it. But hey, ya gotta get home after a night at the New River Hilton.

Yeah, Mr. Mercedes is riding with us today.

A snippet in a lady's voice in the back: "God is my Holy... Bite me!"

Energetically, a middle-aged man in good condition came aboard, braced his legs to steady himself for the bus to move while he paid his fare. The bus remained still, but I had to compliment him on his readiness to keep things moving as he fed his bills into the box.
"I'm good, you can roll" he informed me, like this was how he always got on the bus. "I'm used to body surfing," he explained, and he sure was in a surfing position.
"Bus surfing!" I offered up as a more accurate term.

History and remembrance have their place, and museums will always have a layer of dust. Over here on the 50, we're stocked up on Life.

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