Yesterday, I sat on my deck but I couldn’t focus on my assignment (quantitative analysis). It was due to the tapping that I heard– metal. Are they preparing for “her” last day? I wondered. The sound went away, but my focus drifted across the creek.
They planned to bring her down at 8:00am on Sunday. I was scheduled to be somewhere else and share my Haiti experience with others. And I did.
I didn’t rush to her side; I knew I would see her soon enough. After lunch and errands, I picked up my dog and we went for a ride. Filled with anticipation, I turned the corner. A gasp rushed past my lips. She didn’t look like I had expected.
Others drove by and marveled, too. Her elevator shaft still stood, and the memories of her better days flooded my mind. I had taken that elevator up to the penthouse floor when the doorman let me in to make a delivery to a family friend. It seemed luxurious–beautiful furniture centered in the common area, and a breath-taking view of the city. Doorman. Delivery. Family friend. Breath taking views. That was then.
An Allisonville Road resident, Steve, stood near the demolition border by me. He commented on my dog’s striking looks and then we shared memories of the Towers. Steve agreed that Lindner’s Ice Cream was across the street and then he paused and remembered that they had ‘great ice cream!’ They did.
We then recalled that Keystone Towers was a micro-city on its own– you parked your car at home, walked down the hall and got groceries, and could even take care of personal business. Phone company offices were there. That’s where my sister worked and I parked in the shade of the upper level’s parking deck, secured for residents. I vaguely remember a doctor or dentist being located there too. I try to confirm the businesses with others, but their memory is scanty. Some thought it was too grand. And, perhaps it was. But there were businesses. Jobs. Activity. Life.
Sunday, the gray dust under my feet and the piles of concrete–pieces and slabs– jolted my memory back two weeks to the heart wrenching site of Haiti’s earthquake rubble.
Port-Au-Prince leaves you wondering: where has all the restoration money gone? People wondered the same about the Towers.
Long ago, and after a tax sale, the promise of renovation waved on banners from her roof top, yet more broken windows and debris were the only new things found. I will never forget the evening I drove by to check for progress (I live nearby) and saw engulfing darkness broken by a brightly shining light…on an upper floor. I squinted and stared. No, it wasn’t a reflection. How could only one light be on? Why was the only light way up there? Not a trail of lights anywhere, just that light, up there. My creative mind took over and the scene for a suspenseful mystery evolved. I drove off, never forgetting that bright light in the midst of darkness that swallowed those who dared to come.
There are news reports that say one of the former owners of the Keystone Towers was found guilty of mortgage fraud. When the Keystone Towers fell prey to hands and lips bent toward corruption, the flow of her demise never stopped, and her grand doors gapped, unsecure, to all the negativity we hear about in her past–a shooting, drug activity, and all manner of sin.
Yet, while by her side on Sunday, I met Steve and we talked about fond memories and ice cream, and there was the couple who introduced their dog to mine. And Monday, I met another man named Stephen, and his boys-Luca and Theo.
We swapped stories and I peered over Theo’s head as they showed me their video of the snatch down of the Towers’ elevator shaft. (Thanks again for letting me share this, Stephen! Theo, I agree with you. It was coooool! Luca, thanks for being concerned that I could see the video.)
Strangers talked and shared with one another. Others drove by. People smiled. That was Monday.
And on Monday, we all agreed, the Tower’s site is a place with great potential. It is already bringing strangers together in good-natured ways. The negative past is falling like the dust she stirs as more of her falls. As the Towers resist forces meant to destroy, a greater sense of community builds.
On this beautiful Tuesday morning, it was fitting that the last I saw of her was a cloud of dust.
I turned to take a photo of the surroundings, and voices of women walking on Fall Creek’s trail filled the air. A black man cast his bait into Fall Creek, while an Asian man leaned against the trail’s bridge and slowly looked around. A white man, dressed in yellow and black riding gear, pedaled across the creek’s bridge. Diversity. Recreation. No fear.
One can only hope that the City of Indianapolis will keep their commitment and ask for development proposals, and give the community a voice into what can become of the grounds. If the City needs help gathering ideas, I stand ready. I have already enjoyed the charm of the Keystone Towers grounds.