A note from the Durham County jail | Urban Archaeology | Indy Week
Pin It

A note from the Durham County jail 

One afternoon several years ago, I was meandering near a vacant lot south of the Durham County jail that had been scraped clean for the construction of the new courthouse. Scattered in the brown grass were shards of pink paper. The pattern of the tears mirrored one another in the way we used to cut snowflakes from construction paper in grade school.

I noticed there were letters on both sides—on the front a typed intake form from the jail, on the back a handwritten note in pencil—so I sifted the pieces from the dormant blades of grass and took them home. Once I puzzled it together, I realized the note had been written by an inmate weighing the pros and cons of being in jail.

I love to walk. There is no distance, given enough time and money, that I would not attempt to travel on my two short legs. During my expeditions, my eyes always scan the ground for interesting detritus.

Over the years in various cities, I've harvested from the streets love notes, a crushed metal cash register, playing cards, homework, a child's Christmas list, photos, a yellow medical bracelet that said "fall risk," an empty bag that had held emergency food rations, money—about $100 all told—and a kitten.

At night I empty my jeans pockets of ephemera and look for clues to how people live. That's the theme of this new column, Urban Archaeology: a record of found objects, photos, overheard dialogue, poignant scenes; the small, everyday true moments that define life in the Triangle.

This article appeared in print with the headline "He shall be released."

Latest in Urban Archaeology

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Urban Archaeology



Twitter Activity

Comments

Dear Lisa: Your mother was mistaken. My legal name is Santa Claus, and I live in North Pole, Alaska. My …

by Santa Claus on Urban Archaeology: "Is there a Santa Claus?" (Urban Archaeology)

I saw the full pamphlet that included this in a laundromat; it is from the Jehovah's witnesses, and it actually …

by RichFNJames on Where we come from (Urban Archaeology)

Most Read

  1. Not a Lot of Nazi Statues in Berlin (Letters to the Editor)

Most Recent Comments

Dear Lisa: Your mother was mistaken. My legal name is Santa Claus, and I live in North Pole, Alaska. My …

by Santa Claus on Urban Archaeology: "Is there a Santa Claus?" (Urban Archaeology)

I saw the full pamphlet that included this in a laundromat; it is from the Jehovah's witnesses, and it actually …

by RichFNJames on Where we come from (Urban Archaeology)

Wow, how sweet to see this in the Indy!

When Arabella was two years old she said that she …

by Lauren C. K. Goslin on Mrs. Lauren, you are loved (Urban Archaeology)

Cute!

by Arthur B Raleigh on Mrs. Lauren, you are loved (Urban Archaeology)

Lisa Sorg is my favorite columnist of all time

by Anthony Corriveau on Fab found fashion (Urban Archaeology)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation