Home of the Brave
1967: Born in Ridgewood, New Jersey and has a pretty decent childhood but doesn’t get along with his stepmother. He excels at baseball and is on his way to a potential career in the Majors when we injures his elbow in high school. He starts drinking like most teenagers.
1987: Drops out of college and joins the army. He is stationed at Fort Hood and works as a mechanic on Blackhawk helicopters. He receives a general discharge. After leaving the army he goes and works for his father at the family business as foreman at their machine shop in Lodi.
1989: He sees Jackie walking into a bar across the street from his house. He says to his friend, “ Hands off that, she’s mine ”. For Bob it was love at first sight and for Jackie it took a little longer. They’re together for a few years but break up over an argument one day.
1995: Bob gets married and a year later his only son is born. He and his new family live in Haledon, a small town next to Paterson.
2003: Divorced and single again, he continues to work at his family business but his health and his father’s health is deteriorating.: Pancreatitis, most likely brought on from alcoholism, causes Bob to lose a lot of weight. He weighs 117 lbs now. Severe depression sets in and Bob tries to commit suicide for the first time. He backs up a forklift to the door of the locker room and lies down to die as fumes fill the room. He survives the suicide attempt and continues working at the machine shop.
2008: He meets up with Jackie again and can’t afford to live off his income from the machine shop as it’s slowly going under. So he and Jackie move into an abandoned mill in Lodi, near the machine shop.
2009: He and Jackie have another argument and they split up for a second time.
2010: The family machine shop finally closes. Bob tries to commit suicide again during another severe bout of depression. He’s hospitalized and then goes to live at a place called Jericho Road, a homeless shelter for a year. He hates it there because he’s treated like a child and has religion constantly forced on him.
2012: He’s hired by general contractor and fills various roles on the construction sites. He moves into the same boarding house in Paterson where Jackie is living.
2014: His boss is getting older and taking on less work. He can no longer afford Bob and lets him go. Within a few months, during the winter Bob is evicted for not paying his rent. He doesn’t want to go back to a shelter so he goes out to the backyard. In his cold suit, he sleeps in a lawn chair for a few weeks until it starts snowing. He then makes his way to the Allied Textile Printing complex and finds a large ventilation pipe where he makes this home for the winter. This is Bob’s first winter sleeping rough. He’s able to survive by making fires in the pipe and eating at local soup kitchens. 015: He discovers the furnace and along with a friend they clean it out and make it habitable. Bob continues to live in the furnace becoming known as the mayor of the mill. He watches friends come and go and even die from drug overdoses. Days are spent reading and feeding wildlife that live in the mill complex. Jackie is still a major part of his life. He spends afternoons taking care of her and doing odd jobs to earn some money.
2017: After almost a year of struggling with Veteran Affairs, they find Bob some temporary housing at the Kings Inn in Wayne, NJ. The budget for housing is limited and Bob must undergo treatment for alcoholism, general health check ups, and organise a pile of paperwork. Time is running out at the Kings Inn and winter is approaching. Bob is faced with the possibility of returning back to the furnace before permanent housing becomes available. In the meantime, he rides the bus or his bike everyday into Paterson to see Jackie and his friends at the mill.
Todd R Darling
Todd R. Darling grew up in Northern New Jersey. He works predominantly in still photography, but includes video in his work to create multimedia projects. He recently completed the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism program at the International Centre of Photography. In 2014, he began his career as a photojournalist covering the democracy protests in Hong Kong, where he had been living for 10 years establishing a successful multi-national company. His work was published in Time Magazine, Grazia, and numerous online news sites. In 2015, he joined Polaris Images in New York and worked as their photographer in Hong Kong, covering breaking news events and feature stories for international publications. He is currently working on a documentary project about Paterson NJ, near the home he was raised. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Documentary Arts Fellowship for his project on Paterson. The British Journal of Photography awarded Todd with their 2017 Breakthrough Award. Todd is passionate about helping communities under threat by utilizing his skills as a documentary photographer and his ability to communicate and implement ideas effectively to institute change. His extensive international business background and time as Director of an NGO married with his education and experience in visual journalism has honed his skills as a planner, communicator, and determined individual who can take an idea from inspiration to reality.