HOLLY, MICHIGAN (ANYTOWN, USA)
Left from Fenton on State 87 is HOLLY, 5 m. (980 alt., 2,252 pop.), a small industrial city with some regional fame as a flower center. Flower gardening, encouraged by the Holly Flower Lovers’ Club, is a feature of the civic program.
— Michigan, A Guide To the Wolverine State (WPA, 1941)
The town I grew up in was always quiet. It was always small and it always seemed as if it was about 20 years behind. Fifty miles north of Detroit, it was one of hundreds of other small towns that had auto and factory workers looking to live with their families away from the more traditional suburban spread of identical factory-produced homes and packed strip malls. The homes were old, but well kept. The businesses were small, but frequented by the people who lived there, grew up there and raised their kids there. By all definable standards Holly, Michigan was a thriving small town.
Not unlike the rest of the state of Michigan, Holly has been hit hard by the auto industry crash, as well as the general weak economy of the state. People have lost their homes, businesses have closed. Walking down the main through road that runs north and south within the town, Holly looks like it has literally stood still. Each time I go back to visit, I’m further saddened by the continuing spreading emptiness.
Holly, unfortunately, is not unlike a million other towns in the U.S. It’s actually totally average. Although I’d like to think the town of my childhood and the town I love so dearly is beyond being categorized as average, it really is Anytown, USA.
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EE Berger is a photographer Detroit bred and Brooklyn based. She seeks out emptiness, solitude and peaceful moments and was recently selected as one of Photoboite’s “30 Women Photographers Under 30” for 2013. You can find her on Tumblr at eeberger.tumblr.com, and find her website at eebergerphoto.com.