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Long-term Survivors

Hemley Supply Company Revisited & The Fickle Finger of Fate – Bushwick, Brooklyn

© Ellen Hemley

© Ellen Hemley

Often Vincenzo or I will snap a hand-painted sign and a whole history will reveal itself. Sometimes the past is a bit more elusive and the juxtaposing hints belie the writing on the wall. Last year I posted Vincenzo’s images of the Hemley Supply Company thinking it was a sheet metal supply. Earlier this week I received this e-mail from Debbie Hemley:

Hi Frank,

I came across your book today and was thrilled to find it. What a wonderful collection of images and great thing to document!

My father’s old warehouse for mattresses and bedding supplies, in the Williamsburgh section of Brooklyn had that type of painted ad and none of us had been down there in almost twenty years. We’re all in Massachusetts now. Earlier this year my sister went to the location at 300 Meserole Street and we were thrilled to discover that the painted ad was still there and hadn’t faded! Attaching photos that she took.

Loved too to learn that you’re a long-term survivor of AIDS. I’m a long-term survivor of Leukemia and there’s something so unique and transforming about longterm survivorship–that not everyone quite gets.

All best,
Debbie Hemley

As fate has it, not only did Debbie’s e-mail solve another mystery, but it confirms the transformative nature of survival. Why some of us die after diagnosis and treatment and why some of us endure will still remain a mystery.