“Candy Man”

Though I do not know who “Candy Man” is, I must say I’m intrigued by his lifestyle.

While traveling north on I-65 through Alabama, about two hours south of Montgomery, a small roadside shack caught my eye, and I decided to take exit 54 to investigate. It was late afternoon and the sun was beautifully golden. And alongside the shack was a clothesline with two articles of clothing appearing to be inherently tethered and worn, presumably there for many a year. This is what drew me to this place- moments lost in time are one of the most mesmerizing and inspiring things for me.

It was not exactly a “road” that led the way to this shack. And once on this dirty trail, per se, I came across two other small, abandoned homes, and a third home before the one that originally caught my eye. Once I came to the third home, a family of 7 or 8 stood outside, probably wondering what in the world I was doing on this dead end- essentially in the middle of nowhere. I stopped and asked if the last home was abandoned and they informed me that an old man named “Candy Man” lived there. They knew little about the man, as they saw him rarely, but they did tell me that he had lived there “forever” and had no running water or electricity- that he used to rent the property from a man, but that man had since passed away, and Candy Man remains rent-free in this raggedy beauty.

I quietly ventured the several yards to Candy Man’s property to sneak in a few photos of what most would condescendingly label as poverty- but that I saw as a beautiful reflection of a more simplistic, less materialistic time. Sure, he had no running water or electricity, and probably lived scarcely off the land, but, did this man know anything else? This man has likely lived a similar lifestyle his entire life and has always been content with the minimalist approach to which he took and, perhaps, he knew nothing more. This, to me, is inspiring. His house was outlined with grandaddy dandelions, which always hold promise, as their purpose is to make wishes upon, and those clothes upon his line, probably hand washed in a nearby creek, emphasized a life of hard work and dedication. Disappointed that I didn’t get to actually meet Candy Man, I still gained an appreciation for his presence and his silent message(s) to passersby.

Several appearingly tame cats surrounded his home and looked calmly into the lens as I squatted in my white sundress, upon his dusty lane, taking photos of this roadside jewel.

I ventured back down the lane, taking photos of the family who was so forthcoming with their kindness, and stopping at one of the last abandoned shacks- this one in a mess of wildflowers and a beautiful, old door laying amongst them. Had I been able to lift the treasure, I would’ve brought it home for an art project; instead I got the Alabama version of Malaria from the endless mosquito bites I received. But I still drove away with a smile, which was a gracious gift from those who freeze in time, things that those of us enveloped in the luxe of modern amenities, could never appreciate.

By:Ashley Halligan


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