All photos by Steve Jessmore
Elaine Crane, 82, and husband Ralph Crane, 87, have been volunteering for two decades feeding the hungry in Flint, Michigan. They pick up excess food from an area supermarket that has short shelf life and make an 18-mile journey throughout Flint, delivering it to various charities.
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh those lazy bums can’t help themselves.’ They don’t realize, especially right now, things are getting worse, it looks to me like, anyway. Do you get the idea we enjoy what we do when we can help just a little bit?” Elaine says.
Ralph’s had a stroke and I’ve had just about everything taken out of me that you can have taken out, but it’s not stopping us. If more people would do just a little bit of something, we’d be so much better off.”
I came across this photo and caption and was not prepared for what I saw. I guess what really messed me up was the pained look on her face. The image and what it meant knocked me out of my chair. When I got back up, and looked at the photo again, I wondered how in the hell I was supposed to dismiss this. Like so many other news stories and photographs I come across, 9/11, layoffs, murder, death, natural disasters, national tragedies, it’s easy to turn the page.
But not her. Just look at her.
Here she is, trekking all over the city delivering food to charities that feed hungry people and yet she clearly is in dire need of help herself. She looks like she can barely walk.
And it’s winter. Michigan winter. It’s a freezing, cold, mind-numbing hell. Yet there she is, ignoring her own death like an african lion ignoring a fly. Neither can apparently be bothered with such idle curiosities.
Are these people, like Mr. & Mrs. Crane – who are completely invisible to us – the reason our society can exist? And is it because there are so few people like them we are in the shape we are in today?
“If more people would do just a little bit of something…”
‘A little bit of something?!?’ I thought. I stared at her face again. Twenty years of “little bits of something.” I wonder what it adds up to? It’s incomprehensible, so don’t try. Twenty years.
So many lives they must have touched. How many children have they helped feed? Children who grew up and had a chance to get out of poverty and make something of themselves. Do these people know Mr. and Mrs. Crane even exist?
I stared at the photograph again. I think she’s standing in a doorway, perhaps that very supermarket, waiting to carry food back to that van so she can deliver it where its needed. I can see her now, struggling; ever carry a case of canned food? It weighs as much as she does. I desperately want to run into that photo and help her, tell her she’s done enough already. I want to apologize to her on behalf of our pathetic, worthless society that needs a tired, elderly woman to do its charity work.
But I can’t run in to help her. It’s just a picture… I stare at it one last time.
And right there, this 82 year-old woman has shown me just how absolutely irrelevant the rest of us are.
From Apple, the company that brought you the mouse, today, kills the mouse.
This Convertible Book Jacket from Incase (SKU#CL57512R) looks like the best iPad case so far. Bit thicker, which you’ll need in case in drops, and I love the design so you can tilt it to a few different configurations. Bravo Incase!
Amazing portraits of Mom & Pop owners on the Lower East Side. Please patronize these folks and give them business! We need the Mom & Pop stores. That is what makes New York “New York.”