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Wendi's Word A column by Wendi Reardon

Stories of lost locales

October 30, 2013 - I enjoy seeing photographs of other people's journeys. It's not just visiting the upper peninsula or foreign countries but also visiting abandoned places.

The paint peeling off the walls. Graffiti covering doors still attached. Furniture knocked over and torn apart. Items scattered around the building and floor.

It's haunting and mysterious. It's beautiful but eerie.

You might remember a few years back I mentioned I enjoyed learning about history. Seeing the abandoned places, I look up their history and try to find out what happened.

What happened to a once majestic theater filled with a captive audience watching musicals and plays and is now torn apart from time and lack of attention?

There are quite a few places in Michigan. I know you can probably think of a few places in Detroit and Flint. But with the exception of Sears - Summit Place Mall is abandoned. Once crawling with shoppers and teenagers as a place to hang out after school. (I know I was one of those teenagers spending my hard earned money from Boston Market.) Now the mall is empty. Waiting.

One of my searches led me to abandoned amusement parks. There is one in Michigan. It is in Irish Hills called Prehistoric Forest. If anyone remembers going, tell me about it. I am interested.

Another search led me to Six Flags in New Orleans - abandoned after Hurricane Katrina. Once filled with cheerful screams and kids running around with cotton candy and giant plush animals now empty.

It was those photos along with photos from amusement parks in Japan and Pripkat, Ukraine. The one in Ukraine never opened because of the Chernobyl disaster and the city was evacuated.

It is the what if questions looking at the photos of abandoned places which lead me to story ideas for fiction.

So after 18 months of a little procrastination and plot as well as characters changing this National Novel Writing Month will produce a 50,000 word rough draft of one of those ideas.

The story involves an abandoned amusement park and how it became abandoned. As for now, that's as much as the story line you will receive.

But if you send coffee starting Nov. 1 - I might give you more details.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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