After the Fire

BettyJo_02The fire that wrecked this four-unit apartment building on Fayetteville’s Betty Jo Drive happened more than a year and a half ago (I first mentioned it in a blog post here). It’s still standing there. Why it hasn’t been torn down is something of a neighborhood mystery.

BettyJo_05As I wrote in a story running in today’s paper,

The doors and windows are gone. The rear walls are little more than charred studs, while jagged holes have been punched in the front. The blue threads of an old shredded tarp stretch like cobwebs across holes in the roof.

_C1_0018The story’s pretty interesting; basically the owners, who bought it after the fire, haven’t violated any city code yet and still plan to renovate the building. Financing has just been more difficult to come by than expected, for a few reasons.

Meanwhile this skeleton of eight people’s home waits.

BettyJo_04This is the second time they’ve let me take photos for the paper — the first time was also a fire. I wonder if there’s a pattern here.

Thanks for looking,


Heat Wave

It’s been an amazingly warm weekend. Temperatures rose past 60 — short-sleeve weather in January. That’s after a week-long temperature roller-coaster, and the ride’s not over yet: Tomorrow’s high is in the 20’s. There were lots of people out today soaking it up while they could.





_C1_0065This guy, who, if I remember correctly, is named Chad, decided to celebrate by yarning up a small tree in his yard. His hairless cat had amazing eyes.

_C1_0070I made my way for the first time down to Lake Fayetteville, part of which was still frozen. Figures.



_C1_0201Just brace yourselves, everyone; it’s coming to an end pretty quick.



_C1_0140Thanks for looking.


Betty Jo’s Reputation

_C1_9831 smallOn Betty Jo Drive, a long line of four-plexes a couple of blocks from where I’m living, the rent is cheap and the people diverse. If it’s warm enough, groups of kids laugh and chase their way up and down the street on bikes and scooters — lots of bikes. Much of the time, the adults are either working or staying indoors.

_C1_9853 smallThe street’s also a little rough around the edges. One four-plex, burned out 18 months ago, still stands as a shell of brick and wood. Some dumpsters overflow with trash and mattresses. Four porcelain sinks sit in a row in one yard, while a pair of shopping carts sit in another. The street apparently has a bit of reputation in Fayetteville as more dangerous than most of the rest of town._C1_9789 smallThe police told a local TV station late last year that the street is rather ordinary in terms of call volume, though. What stood out most in my preliminary wanderings was that each four-plex seemed to have its own personality.

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_C1_9788 smallI haven’t talked to enough people on the street to be any authority, but it struck me as less of a shady neighborhood and more of a mixed-up one, a cross-section of town I so far haven’t seen anywhere else. There’s an interesting mix of people here, and I just want to keep going back and learning some of the neighborhood’s stories, if I earn them.

_C1_9838 smallWish me luck. Oh, and happy new year!

Thanks for looking,


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