Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Abandonment Issues: Marilyn Bebee & Michael Howreluk House

In a matter of minutes after spotting the wet footprint in the illuminated basement, and running from the light in the Angel with a Crown of Thorns House, we come across yet another abandoned house.

Marilyn Bebee & Michael Howreluk House

Marilyn Bebee & Michael Howreluk House

We are greeted by a partially collapsing porch, somehow still holding the weight of a giant rusted freezer and other appliances. As soon as I step up though, a soggy warped board snaps under my 190 pound frame. I catch myself with a little footwork and dance backwards into Ninja's arms, avoiding possible injury. We step back again. A symphony of crackling maple leaves accompanies our every step like a crispy Premier Gang Starr beat. Crackle crackle thump, crackle crackle thump. I photograph the front of the house, which is oddly void of windows.

Marilyn Bebee & Michael Howreluk House

Around back, we hope for any easier point of entry, which we encounter. Only to quickly discover that the kitchen floor has collapsed and further entry from this point is too hazardous.

Dinner is served
Dinner is served

Eve r   y    thi n    g  F  a   l  l    s      Apa  r    t
Eve r   y    thi n    g  F  a   l  l    s      Apa  r    t

Another brick in the floor
another brick in the floor

Back out front, a pick-up truck flies by, and a man with a beard longer than mine waves at us as we step over the threshold, waving back at him. Cold war era appliances and empty 80s cola war cans first steal my attention.

Cola War Cans

Stove top nose drop
stovetop nosedrop


Ye olde hand crank
ye olde hand crank

An envelope on the floor draws my fingers toward it as if magnetically, seeking out the needle in the chaos of clutter. It is addressed to Michael Howreluk. A shiver rises up my spine as i remove and unfold the page, which is dated February 16, 1982.

"...Who is Michael Howreluk?"

"I don't know but in 1982 he owed $646.70 to Texaco Canada..."

Michael Howreluk's Michael Howreluk's 1982 Texaco bill -PAID

Michael Howreluk's 1982 Texaco bill

Several dated personal possessions are strewn about the floor of the entire house, everything from children's toys to women's shoes. Life seemingly stopped here in the 1980s. A teenage boy's Bauer hockey skate rests in peace atop a torn apart 30 cent copy of Mechanix Illustrated, dated September 1967. In a play room upstairs, a train set is dismantled and off track amongst boxes for race tracks and a Slavia 630 Standard air rifle. I spot and race toward an Etch A Sketch on the floor in the far corner, only to discover that it too seems to have died in the 80s. I continue to turn the poles that are missing their knobs, etching my invisible image, an abandoned house on the horizon, the place I am standing.

"...Howreluk, is that Czechoslovakian, this air rifle box says it is made in Czechoslovakia?"

"I'm not sure, but who the hell was Marilyn Bebee?"


This skate has been out almost as long as Crosby
This skate has been out almost as long as Crosby :)

Upstairs in the play room
upsatirs in the play room

Violence of the lambs
Autumn breeze

slavia 630 standard
slavia 630 standard


Its in the bag
its in the bag

Unmastered bedroom
unmastered bedroom

Medicine cabinet habit
medicine cabinet habit

Etch A Sketchy
etch a sketchy

Etch A Sketch 4S
Etch A sketch 4S

"...Marilyn who?"

"This school workbook, all of the assignments are dated 1939, Bunker Hill School, and signed by a Marilyn Bebee."

Assignments in math and English penciled onto lined paper 72 years before I'm standing here flipping the pages. Line after line of cursive writing, with gradual improvement in size, shape and style over the course of the year. William Blake's 'The Lamb' is etched in the innocent penciled print of a young girl. On the opposite page a very young Marilyn Bebee's letter writing exercise reads as follows.

Bunker Hill School,
January 16, 1939

The Manager,
Avonlea Farm
Toronto, Ont.

Dear Sir;
We are learing about dairing in our Science lessons. We should like to visit your farm any day after school. Please let us know soon if we may come, and on what day.

Yours truly,


Marilyn Bebee's 1939 Bunker Hill School workbook
Marilyn Bebee's 1939 Bunker Hill School workbook

Year 1939 - Flowers, Roots and Vegetables.
Year 1939 - Flowers, Roots and Vegetables. 

William Blake's THE LAMBWilliam Blake's THE LAMB

This post is dedicated to Marilyn Bebee & Michael Howreluk, however it may find them, in life or in memory.

click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES

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