30. June 2012 · 5 comments · Categories: Photos

My brothers and I walked to the elementary school we attended as kids, just four blocks up the cinder path from our house. All our friends from our development went there too.

My mother would wait until we got down the driveway and on to the street, and then open the door and holler, “Stand up straight when you walk!”

She was talking to me. I’d jerk my head up, thrust my shoulders back and hips forward, but I could only hold it so long before it all went slack and I went back to staring at the ground, bent forward, looking as if I were in a hurry to get somewhere.

It’s a habit I’ve had all my life, and I’m trying to break myself of it as we speak, especially after seeing recent pictures of myself on stage at a music gig, thinking I’m all statuesque, but hunched over as if I’m trying to protect myself.

The habit has come in handy, however. Eight years ago when John and I married, I moved downtown with him. We walked everywhere. Used the bus sometimes. Used our cars seldom. We got rid of one. I walked to school, to meetings, to work, see friends, get my hair cut, all with my head down, looking at the sidewalk. I found money down there. Jewelry. An angry note. Works of art. Profound messages. Slices of American cheese.

And I thought, you just don’t see this everywhere. And that American cheese would make a great framed piece. Finally, a year ago, I started taking pictures of what I found on the city sidewalks. Which practice became easier after I got my iPhone.

What you see here is the beginning of the culmination of an idea I’ve had all these eight years. While I am walking straighter these days, when I’m out on the streets I just can’t help myself. Sorry, Mom.

This and other Sidewalk Series galleries can also be found at the Photos tab above. My Lake Michigan from Our Place galleries are there too.


  1. What fascinating sidewalk drama! I wonder about your neighborhood poet/writer person. Were these writings intentionally placed for someone to find, or were they liberated from the trash where you stumbled across them as debris? We will likely never know the story behind them.

    A bouquet of leaves. Cheese. “Death awaits”…eroding. A lonely Hoveround. Pieces of lives.

    I am reminded of an old television show. “There are a million stories in this ‘Naked City’. This is one of them.”

  2. I have a feeling those poems were placed at or near where I found them. I remember them being slightly blown about and sensed that they were part of a bigger project. The American cheese I found near the MSOE campus; I did not have an iPhone or our camera with me at the time but wished I did. I want to recreate that, as well as two others I saw before I actually started taking the pictures. That bouquet of leaves was beautiful! Thanks for your post, Denise; it’s lovely.

  3. Okay, I’ll try to be a little more patient from now on every time we’re on our walks and you want to stop to take pictures of something. I have to admit, these are very cool.

  4. Thank you, J. I always tell you you can keep walking ahead, you know.

  5. To my visitors: My apologies for the slowness of the gallery. I’m in the process of looking for a new plugin that works faster. I appreciate your patience. UPDATE: Photos have been resized and are moving faster now when you click through. Thanks for reading!

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