Hi guys. I'm going to tell you about my little adventure inside the old Stanley Furniture Factory. The plant was the lifeblood of the tiny town for over 30 years, but it closed down in 2002, and all of the jobs were sent to Mexico.
Anyway, I was always fascinated by the place as a child. There was a sign out front that told the numbers of days since the last "incident". It got up to 470 something days before some guy lost a finger in one of the machines. But it was sad to see it close down. When I moved back to the area recently, my stepfather met a guy who ran some sort of humanitarian aid service. He would store all of the boxes and stuff he received in one end of the old factory.
My stepfather asked this guy if we could film a movie in there for his church drama club. So we went into this old factory one week, and filmed this stupid little movie. While I was there, I took the time to explore the ground floor of the place. I found a door that was open still, and a fence that could be moved. At the conclusion of filming, we left some of our stuff in this factory, but I didn't notice.
Flash forward to last week. I'm participating in a photography class
at college, and our assignment is to go out and take some pictures. I convince this other guy (who I'll call Adam, but his real name is David McCantrell) to come along. We get there, and after looking out for the po-pos, we jump the fence and try the door.
It had been nailed shut.
Disheartened, I made to leave, when Adam spots a ladder to the roof. So, we go up the ladder, and get on the roof. Immediately, I spot some old pipes jutting out everywhere, ending in odd places. Great opportunity for a photo. We set our bags down, take the cameras out, and start snapping photos. We planned to take some roof pictures, and then leave.
Until I found the door - a gift from Heaven. About 30 feet from where we entered the roof, there was a small door. I opened it, and to my excitement, found a ladder then descended into the Humanitarian storage area. Adam and I climbed down, and I grabbed a flashlight from an area near the locked cargo bay doors. It was almost pitch black. Remember that. We went to the boiler room, where I found all of this stuff of mine that I had left during the filming of this movie. More pictures are taken. About this time, I discover that an old eye-wash station that still has water connected to it. I take the opportunity to wash my hands of dust and grim. The dust was an inch think in some places. After this, we explore a tiny loft space above the boiler room. It is here that I glanced through a hole in the wall, right across from the storage area. At first, nothing seemed different, until I realized that the room was awash with sunlight! Someone was there.
I told Adam of our predicament. We couldn’t get out of the boiler room, although there were two exits. One was closed with a rusty spring (which undoubtedly would have alarmed the guy in the next room to our presence), the other was into the room where the Humanitarian delivery guy was working. So like any good thieves, we froze for about 20 minutes, not daring to move, except for occasional glances through the hole in the wall. During this time, we hardly ever knew where the guy was. Sometimes, we would see him working in his truck, and other times, we couldn’t see or hear of him.
Finally, I decided we would try to sneak out. The problem was, we couldn’t just leave. We had to find a way to get back on the roof from the ladder in the storage area. Seeing as the guy out there wasn’t leaving anytime soon, I decided to go somewhere we could not be found. After putting anything metallic in my pockets and tying my shoes extra tight, I peeked around the corner, looking for the right moment to hightail it to space behind a 4-foot concrete platform. Eventually, we got our chance, and we dove to the platform. He didn’t see or hear us apparently. I crouched while looking for my next opportunity to move. When it came, we took it. I stood up a little, and dived to the next platform, as did Adam.
Then he dropped his cell phone.
The noise it made was astounding in the cavernous factory room. I was sure we had been caught, and were going to be arrested. I was two seconds from beating the shit our of Adam when I noticed the guy was going about his business, as if nothing had happened. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. And when the guy stepped outside to take a call on his cell phone, I could barely contain my relief. We quickly hightailed it to the rear part of the factory.
Nothing much in the rear of the factory, but there was a set of stairs. So up we went. By now, we resumed talking in our normal voices, but we still moved as silently as possible (which was stupid, because the floors were concrete). There was nothing much on the second floor, just more big empty workspaces and offices spaces. One office had a banner on the wall which said, “A neat workplace is an efficient workplace”. Did I mention that this room was almost knee deep in fallen insulation? I just found that funny.
On the third floor, we found an assembly area, but a bunch of old doors and toilets. The florescent lights were on, however, which had me worried for a second, but as far as I could tell, they kept those on 24/7. Also, a pile of clothing was in one corner, near a fence, but Adam kept saying, “I think that’s a hobo, let’s move”. Upon closer examination, it was revealed to be a pile of dirty coveralls and a blanket of some sort.
The fourth and last floor was the most interesting. Two large holes, half covered by a shed thing, were in the floor. Out of each hole, a line of swinging platforms suspended by a steel chain was hanging, ready to go. I think they may have been used to get furniture to the loading bay on the third floor (which had a hill beside it, thus the loading bay. These platforms were extremely loose, and one nearly fell off of it’s docking when I stood on it. After taking photos of this, I started to descend down another stairwell, to find it was almost completely covered in pigeon shit. Slightly grossed out, I made my way to a door in the far wall. I opened it up, and stepped out onto..
The roof. I had found a way out. And the real kicker was, this door was less the 20 feet from where out camera bags lay, undisturbed. I checked the ground for cops (there were none), and Adam and I quickly climbed down, hopped over a chain between the fence, and got the hell out of there. The humanitarian guy was gone. He never even suspected we were there.