Drawn to Scale

Uploaded 9 Oct 2010 — 2 favorites
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© Joshua Ball
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More of Joshua Ball’s Photos

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Photo license: © All rights reserved

The broken glass, peeling paint and rusty components of this once proud scale are not unique. Any machine left unattended to the elements will eventually look something like this. However, this particular piece of machinery was made in Toledo by hard-working middle class Americans and because of that, it represents so much more. Much like this Toledo scale, the city of Toledo has been misused, mishandled and left alone to the harsh environment in which it sits idle. When I shot this photo, I couldn’t believe such a strong piece of local history had been abandoned; but all is not lost. When I climbed on top of the machine to get a better shot, something amazing happened. The hand on the face of the scale shot erratically to the right. Stepping off, it shot back to the left where it was originally positioned. Intrigued, I noted the location of the hand and stepped back on the surface. The hand again shot to the right and unbelievably, the weight was relatively accurate. I was in awe. Manufactured in a simpler time, this scale had sat idle for years, maybe even decades, on that small Ohio farm. As soon as it was put to the test, it performed amazingly. While horribly out of calibration and in visual disarray, the machine still worked. A little elbow grease and a few spare parts might even restore it into perfect working condition.

When I first looked upon this lonely machine, my heart sank because of the connection I made to it. It represented everything wrong that has happened to my hometown. It was broken and battered, two adjectives that could easily describe Toledo. In my attempt to use it as art through a photograph, I found that it still breathed life and that immediately gave me hope. While disgusted with its leaders and terrified by its position in the global economy, I still haven’t given up on this struggling city. Like any community, it’s the people that make Toledo what it is; not the political failures or economic turmoil. Toledo has a chance, albeit a small one, to recover from the death of the industrial midwest. One possible future involves a revolution in solar power technologies. Toledo continues to see a small band of pioneering solar companies trying to make this their home. The light bulb over our community is flickering, fighting for its life. Some people stare at that light and wonder if it will ever get brighter while others smile with pessimistic grins, waiting for their chance to say “I told you so.” Regardless of who is looking into that flickering light, one fact remains, it is still burning. It dimly lights our way as we fumble to find the path towards salvation, towards hope. Tired and hungry, Toledo limps on. We are still here……..

4 responses

  • Brenda Burk

    Brenda Burk gave props (9 Oct 2010):

    awesome shot

  • The Rossi Collection

    The Rossi Collection gave props (19 Oct 2010):

    This is an amazing photo Josh. Really sets the mood for this town! I may need a print of this for my grandfather who use to work at Toledo Scales and his job was to balance them with big weights for 5¢ an hour.

  • R L

    R L gave props (9 Sep 2011):

    Love the texture and the affects of time. The sentiment and impact it has on you is clearly felt. Bravo!

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