Unadilla New York. It is the picturesque American town. A place where yesterday’s beauty battles with today’s modernity and the product results in a melting pot of culture with a tinge of new flair. It is a place where pride flutters on flags perched upon the front porches of all its’ residents in the form of red and white stripes with a vast ocean of blue.
Going down the quaint town’s Main Street, the old town feel is evident in the way the houses look. Old colonial style houses are ordinary, while anything built after the 50s looks a bit too modern, maybe even a little out of place.
Main Street is home to the town’s Public Library. A lovely white building with intricate molding that looks more like a Southern plantation house than a library.
A church stands nearly 100 feet down the road from the library, looking over the
people of Unadilla with an unspoken authority. A sign in front poses a question to the townspeople, “God has answers. Are you listening?” Behind the church lies an ancient graveyard, full of the bodies of the townspeople deceased families. It was evident that the town cared about its’ dead. Flowers sat upon the tops of nearly all graves, a little reminder that those gone were not forgotten, but rather unforgettable.
Further down the road you come across the local family run store (it is the kind of place where big business appears to have been ostracized) you will run into a store called the Village Variety. The Village Variety looks like the kind of store that has never not been a part of Unadilla life. It is a store with roots that go deep into the foundation of the town. The store is a place for residents to purchase all of their needs whether it be a few groceries, or maybe a shovel and a pitch fork.
As you continue your stroll down Main Street you realize that the residents of Unadilla are not shy about their political beliefs. Politically motivated signs stick out of front lawns like bland decorations as they plead to someone for an end to drilling for oil, or ask the residents to support Republican Candidate Westinghouse. A small park sits on the Main stretch with young children’s shrill laughter floating through the air as you pass. The park offers a memorial for past Revolutionary War Generals John Sullivan and James Quinto. Aside this memorial sits a plaque in the ground commemorating the burying of a bicentennial time capsule in 1976; only 13 years until the contents hidden are unearthed for the first time in 50 years. Boy Scout flags for Unadilla Troop number 1 adorn every other telephone pole.
And then came the horse trailers. The first one seen makes one think of open pastures and a young girl riding her pony out into an endless field, but then you see another. And then one more. And then you see 10. 20. 30 trailers. It’s a Friday. Friday is normally many people’s favorite day of the week; it is the beginning of the weekend. It is a time when 40-hour work week ends and family time begins. But Unadilla is a town of stark contradictions.
It is in America’s most quaint towns that the darkest secrets are harbored. These towns are where the American dream meets an American nightmare and where life meets death. Unadilla is where hope meets to dance with despair during a gloomy ballad.
On the corner of Main Street and Mill Street, there sits a Kwik Fill gas station and a Red Apple convenience store. If you make this turn, you will begin walking down a road much different than the towns Main Street. Broken down buildings litter the side of the road. “For Sale” signs stapled onto houses that have seen better days.
And then you come to a railroad crossing. On both sides of the tracks sit two abandoned buildings that once served as train stations. A place for trains to come and pick up people to bring them to their futures. This train station was once a place where the people of Unadilla may have came to escape or maybe even just move forward with their lives. Now it serves as a crossroads. One side of the track is life, a prospect full of hope and all the pretty things, and the other side is death, a prospect full of darkness and everything that we fear. And as trailer after trailer crossed these tracks, every horse locked in those metal cages began to straddle the line between these two prospects. These horses, from the moment they crossed over these railroad tracks, began to walk a proverbial straight line between the two tracks of the railroad. Straying one way would result in life, and going a bit far in the other direction would result in an unmistakable death.
As you follow the continuous flow of horse trailers further down the road, the sound of horses wailing carried through the air. The idling of trucks roared through the still country air. And then you can hear the sound of an upbeat country song blaring from a radio. A song playing as if the angel of death was a country fan.
And then there came the sign D.R. Chambers: Cattle Wed., Horses Fri.
For some horses, this would be the beginning of the end. A needless end to a life that may have barely been lived. It is in this town, the picturesque town of Unadilla New York where horses come to find out their fate. Unadilla is home to a 76-year-old auction house that specializes in the sale of livestock. At D.R. Chambers, the good meet with the bad, and life and death hang in the balance.
In Unadilla some horses are lucky enough to find their greener pastures, and the rest, well they take a one way trip to Canada for slaughter so that some men can turn a quick buck.
More coming soon.