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In researching for new locations to photograph, Ryan came across information on an old convent school. Now of course I’m picturing old movie scenes of nuns with rulers in hand, children in uniformed clothing sitting up straight in tiny desks lined up in rows, with terrified looks on their faces wondering who would be smacked next with that ruler. So, of course I jump at the thought of photographing a convent! Ryan mapped out where we were headed and as it was past Aberdeen, South Dakota, we chose an extended weekend during Memorial Day a few years ago to make the trek. Just west of Aberdeen, sits a tiny little town called Zell. Across the main road from the community stands with authority a three story abandoned Catholic Convent School. Upon approaching the dirt street that leads up to the Convent our mouths had dropped open and we were both speechless. This place of history was absolutely enormous. Right next to the Convent is the cemetery and at the end of the street is the current church. We both grab our gear and damn near leaped out of the truck before it was put in park and shut off! As I stood in long grass up to my knees photographing the outside of the Convent, I’m approached by an older gentleman who had been at the cemetery laying flowers for past relatives. He spotted my camera and asked who I was with, I stated my husband. He laughed, referring to a publication as there had been media outlets in the past that had been there, “oh”, I said, and explained that we just do this for a hobby of documenting with our cameras unique and abandoned locations before they are gone. I asked him if it was open to go inside, he stated, his cousin owned the property and his home was just across the street, he was going to go check with him. I quickly find Ryan who is at the backside of the Convent photographing a crazy looking contraption that was attached at the second or third floor and coming down to the ground. I ask, “What on earth is that?” Ryan tells me it is a fire shoot; in case of a fire this would’ve allowed the children and nuns to escape. I proceed to tell him about the older gentleman I just met. 20vHISVOICEvJULY/AUGUST 2018

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