Scotty's Bridge- a special project

Introduction

Scotty's Bridge is a multi-media project I am working on, dedicated to the memory of my father, John Corbin Scott.  

Father and son.

Father and son.


My father passed away when I was 11.  For many of the following years, I felt bitter and I focused on all of the things I missed out on and all the times in my life that he wasn't there.  

One day, I was having a conversation about my dad and, all of a sudden, I saw that I'd been missing out on appreciating all the times in my life that he was there for me and I started to feel gratitude towards him.  I still wanted to know more about him and set out to get in touch with people in his life, to find out what their memories of him were and what he contributed to their lives.

This inquiry started many years ago and, since I started being a photographer (also a passion of my father's), I have decided to add new elements to the project, through photography and video interviews.  My intention with this project goes beyond finding out more about my dad.  I am hopeful that it inspires others to find out more about the people they love, those still living and those that have passed on, and what they appreciate about them.

The name of my project came from one of the interviews I did many years ago.  I heard from somebody who had been a camp counselor with him in Vermont.  I found out that my father built a bridge that spanned a creek and the other counselors named it after him.  Scotty's Bridge is a fitting metaphor.   It speaks to the connections between me and the people in his life; the connection between who he was and who I am; and the connection between his life and the world his contributions continue to impact.  

I will be adding new content from time to time.

1202

Before going into the stories that other people have shared with me about my dad, I would like to share one of my stories.  

The house I grew up in resides in the Burns Park neighborhood in Ann Arbor.  1202 is the address number.  It is a corner house that sits about a half-block from Burns Park and Burns Park School.  I really couldn't have asked for a better location to grow up in.

While the house holds a lot of special memories for me, it also serves as a connection to my dad.  That was the only house we lived in while he was in my life.  He also did a lot of work inside of the house: remodeling the kitchen, building the laundry counter on the second floor, and the conversion of our dingy attic into a nice office space with a sun deck you could walk out to.

I thought a good place to start for this project was to see what, if anything, that he built in 1202 remained decades later.

My first action was to contact who lived there and see if it was possible to go in and look around.  My mother sold the house to a nice family in the fall of 1993.  I had visited the house once since then, when I went with my sister and her husband-to-be, sometime around 1997.   I had no idea whether the family that had moved in were still the owners.

I drafted a note, explaining my project a bit and included a way to be contacted.  I then went to drop it off and, when I arrived at the door, I found a lock-box attached to the doorknob.  

Was I too late?  Is the house for sale?

I wasn't sure but I decided to leave the note anyway.  It was a good thing that I did.  Within 48-hours, I got an e-mail from the Smiths (I've changed their names, out of respect for their privacy), who were the same people who bought the house from my mom.   Mrs. Smith told me that I was welcome to come by any time I wanted.  I set up a time to come by that weekend and had an amazing tour of my old house.  She was incredibly generous.

Many things had changed but there were still some "fingerprints" left behind by my dad...as well as by me, which was an added surprise!

Here are a few of the pictures I took and the story behind them:

The first surprise came when Mrs. Smith told me that I would want to take a look down in the air duct before I got a tour of the house.

  It turned out that I'd written my name on the inside of the duct, before moving out. After that little embarrassment, I was in for a greater surprise.  When we went into the kitchen, Mrs. Smith gave me a folder that contained some diagrams for where each fuse went to.

  It turned out that I'd written my name on the inside of the duct, before moving out.

After that little embarrassment, I was in for a greater surprise.  When we went into the kitchen, Mrs. Smith gave me a folder that contained some diagrams for where each fuse went to.

 The diagram was in my dad's writing.  This really moved me.  Mrs. Smith also presented me with a tile from the entryway hall.  My dad did all of the tiling.  Even though they had remodeled the entryway, she had decided to keep this piece of the past.  I'm very grateful that she did.  She also kept the mezuzah case that was put up on our front door, when my father converted to Judaism.  Little things but all things that connect to my dad. Then we went to the basement and I found another thing I left behind, this time in the area of my father's workshop.

 The diagram was in my dad's writing.  This really moved me.  Mrs. Smith also presented me with a tile from the entryway hall.  My dad did all of the tiling.  Even though they had remodeled the entryway, she had decided to keep this piece of the past.  I'm very grateful that she did.  She also kept the mezuzah case that was put up on our front door, when my father converted to Judaism.  Little things but all things that connect to my dad.

Then we went to the basement and I found another thing I left behind, this time in the area of my father's workshop.

Behind the furnace lay evidence of my handiwork.  At the time my mother sold the place, I was really attached to it.   While I was kind of embarrassed by my vandalism, Mrs. Smith told me that when they repainted the room, they left that area unpainted.  I thought that was really sweet and that took a lot of my embarrassment away. Heading back upstairs, we went into the dinning room and saw one of the things that my father had remodeled, that was still the same.

Behind the furnace lay evidence of my handiwork.  At the time my mother sold the place, I was really attached to it.  

While I was kind of embarrassed by my vandalism, Mrs. Smith told me that when they repainted the room, they left that area unpainted.  I thought that was really sweet and that took a lot of my embarrassment away.

Heading back upstairs, we went into the dinning room and saw one of the things that my father had remodeled, that was still the same.

My dad had replaced the upper shelves with plexiglass and installed a light so that the glassware was better featured. On the second floor, there was not a lot that was familiar to me, except for the views.  It wasn't until getting up to the attic, or the "third floor" as we called it after the remodel, that I saw things as I remembered them.

My dad had replaced the upper shelves with plexiglass and installed a light so that the glassware was better featured.

On the second floor, there was not a lot that was familiar to me, except for the views.  It wasn't until getting up to the attic, or the "third floor" as we called it after the remodel, that I saw things as I remembered them.

I'm not sure if this carpet was considered attractive, even in 1979, but you can't say it isn't durable!  This is a storage closet, right at the top of the 3rd floor.  For a short time, while the room was being built, the back of this closet connected with the back of another closet in the room and felt like a secret passageway to me. Continuing on to the main part of the 3rd floor, the hallway was lined with cupboards that my father built.

I'm not sure if this carpet was considered attractive, even in 1979, but you can't say it isn't durable!  This is a storage closet, right at the top of the 3rd floor.  For a short time, while the room was being built, the back of this closet connected with the back of another closet in the room and felt like a secret passageway to me.

Continuing on to the main part of the 3rd floor, the hallway was lined with cupboards that my father built.

A simple design but I am still envious of my dad's carpentry skills.

A simple design but I am still envious of my dad's carpentry skills.

As far as I know, this is the only rooftop deck of any house in the neighborhood.  My dad loved using the deck, mostly for sunbathing.  I would say this is the area of the house that I connect most with my father.

As far as I know, this is the only rooftop deck of any house in the neighborhood.  My dad loved using the deck, mostly for sunbathing.  I would say this is the area of the house that I connect most with my father.

The three desk set-up.  I mostly used the middle area for playing video games on my Apple 2e.  

The three desk set-up.  I mostly used the middle area for playing video games on my Apple 2e.

 

Most importantly, the jewel of the 3rd floor: the sun deck.     Mrs. Smith gave me one final surprise from the house, as I knew it, when we went into the garage.  Hanging above the doorway to the back yard was this wooden plank, mounted and framed.

Most importantly, the jewel of the 3rd floor: the sun deck. 

 

 Mrs. Smith gave me one final surprise from the house, as I knew it, when we went into the garage.  Hanging above the doorway to the back yard was this wooden plank, mounted and framed.

It turned out that when they replaced the front porch, they kept the old threshold board that you stepped over as you entered the house.  Another amazing gift for me.  I think I was so surprised that I didn't take a very good photograph of it.  I plan on hanging it in my next residence. We went through to the back yard, which was re-landscaped from our time there, and over to the side yard.  There, Mrs. Smith pointed out one of the trees that had been there for years and told me how it died but came back to life.  My father spent a lot of time in the back and side yards, doing landscaping.  

It turned out that when they replaced the front porch, they kept the old threshold board that you stepped over as you entered the house.  Another amazing gift for me.  I think I was so surprised that I didn't take a very good photograph of it.  I plan on hanging it in my next residence.

We went through to the back yard, which was re-landscaped from our time there, and over to the side yard.  There, Mrs. Smith pointed out one of the trees that had been there for years and told me how it died but came back to life.  My father spent a lot of time in the back and side yards, doing landscaping.

 

After pointing out the tree, Mrs. Smith left me to tour the yard.  I took a few more shots of things that I connect with my father:  The back yard, the shudders on the windows and a look back up to the sundeck.

After pointing out the tree, Mrs. Smith left me to tour the yard.  I took a few more shots of things that I connect with my father:  The back yard, the shudders on the windows and a look back up to the sundeck.

After touring the yard, I went back in to the house and noticed the fireplace was almost exactly the same.  The fireplace was also a very special place for our family.  I would sometimes get to help my dad build the fire.

After touring the yard, I went back in to the house and noticed the fireplace was almost exactly the same.  The fireplace was also a very special place for our family.  I would sometimes get to help my dad build the fire.

My dad had a very creative mind and he would tell stories in front of the fire about Henry Tremblechin.  Henry was a meek man with an overbearing wife.  In each story, Henry would accidentally realize that he had a super-power.  I don't recall much more than that, other than my sister Rachel and I loved those stories and looked forward to our special nights by the fire. Like I said earlier, the tour far exceeded my expectations and I feel that I've begun to build a friendship with the Smiths.  Mrs. Smith later told me that, even though she and her family have lived there over 20 years, they still consider it The Scott House. One last little throwback to my past is that the door-knocker is still the same.  That seems fitting since Mrs. Smith said my family is always welcome there.

My dad had a very creative mind and he would tell stories in front of the fire about Henry Tremblechin.  Henry was a meek man with an overbearing wife.  In each story, Henry would accidentally realize that he had a super-power.  I don't recall much more than that, other than my sister Rachel and I loved those stories and looked forward to our special nights by the fire.

Like I said earlier, the tour far exceeded my expectations and I feel that I've begun to build a friendship with the Smiths.  Mrs. Smith later told me that, even though she and her family have lived there over 20 years, they still consider it The Scott House.

One last little throwback to my past is that the door-knocker is still the same.  That seems fitting since Mrs. Smith said my family is always welcome there.