My Mortality

Catskills Pharmacy and Apartment

The discovery of an untouched apartment above a long-abandoned pharmacy in New York led me to think about my mortality and how finite my life is.

The discovery of an untouched apartment above a long-abandoned pharmacy in New York led me to think about my mortality and how finite my life is. At age 32, I have been incredibly lucky to have only had minor health ailments considering the risks I have put myself into exploring abandoned buildings for over 16 years.

Last weekend was a whirlwind, from working through an old resort to a discovery of a long-closed pharmacy in the Catskill Mountains. The once-beloved pharmacy, soda fountain, and gift shop, closed since at least 1979, is one of those once-in-a-lifetime discoveries. Long expired medicines, ready for compounding or dispensing, stand listless on shelves. Some were never used, stuffed with cotton.

Owned by Harry Litwin, the pharmacy was last registered by the New York State Board of Pharmacy for the years 1978 and 1979. Litwin, born on March 25, 1904, died in April 1980 at age 76.

Upstairs is one of the most heartbreaking discoveries I have made in years. While rummaging through the clutter, I came across a honeymoon book. It was heartbreaking to know that this couple’s pictures, their tender moments, their life, is summarized in their apartment: an abandonment. No one to care for their former treasures. No one to pick up the belongings.

How do I want to be remembered? That crosses my mind a lot. I don’t have scrapbooks. No honeymoon pictures. Just digital files, some souvenirs and a lot of memories. When I pass, it will be as if I never existed except for in a digital life.

I know that I am pretty small in the big scheme of things, and I suppose the most one can hope for is to make some kind of difference. But what difference have I made? What in the world is better because of me? 1

I will die at some point, and once I am dead and everyone who knew me dies too, it will be as if I never existed. What difference has my life made to anyone? 1

Looking through these photos and the box of once treasured mementos, I wondered who these people were. What did they do for a living? What were their leisurely activities? What difference did they make to society?

I then wanted answers. Who owned this apartment? Are there decedents that perhaps don’t know of this situation?

I don’t have those answers. It’s heartbreaking.

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  1. Paraphrased from Warren Schmidt in the movie About Schmidt, one of my favorite cines.

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5 Comments

  1. Sherman — I’ve come to the Glen Rogers Abandoned site many times, and I had no idea what cost you were incurring. Being from an abandoned place myself I miss my boyhood that included hundreds of friends and acquaintances. Your site has helped me fill in something that I lost when the mine closed. I loved the pictures that you took of the old abandoned buildings. A lot of us old people want to go home before they die. I just go to abandoned and reminisce.Thanks. I wouldn’t have had that but for your efforts. You filled a need.

  2. Don’t worry man. I’m sure you’ll be remembered by some, especially if you keep taking expired pills you randomly found somewhere, lol. I love your pictures. I wish I could go and do some Urban Exploring myself but I have nobody to come with me and it could get dangerous so I just watch from the safety of my computer. I just gave you a 10 bucks tip. It’s not much but I hope it helps you somehow.

    Take care and good luck dude.

    1. Thank you! It is much appreciated. I did look up what I took beforehand so not to scare anyone off too badly. If you are ever in the New York area, I’m always down to meet other people. This hobby isolates us too much.

  3. Sherman, you will be remembered by the people who’s lives you touched, not the picture files you leave or your “stuff”. I am 60 this year, and my dear mother is 92. I think about mortality all the time. Keep doing what you enjoy, be kind to people you meet, be good to yourself. You have already touched many lives with your pictures. If you keep drinking all the coffee I am sending you your hand will no longer be still enough to hold the camera! 😉

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