Personal Space

Story William Browning | Photograph Luisa Porter

Photographed by Luisa Porter.

Photographed by Luisa Porter.

Charles Rogers, 63 and brimming with energy, has a two-car garage at his Columbus home that is a wonder to behold. Call it a museum minus archaic stuffiness. It has the feel, in fact, of something authentic and glorious.

Rogers lives on Crowe Road. His garage’s four walls are adorned with hundreds and hundreds of mementos from his walk through life. Hardly an empty space remains.

There are faded newspaper snippets. Photographs from magazines. Sayings, both humorous and touching, on tiny posters. Business cards from places around the world. Cultural items from the past. Advertisements that struck Rogers’ fancy. And so many other pieces of history.

“Just a way to pass time,” Rogers said while looking at the walls.

In a way the garage is an ode to an eclectic life. Whose life? His. But John Donne said, “No man is an island,” so let’s consider.

Rogers is from rural Alabama and grew up picking cotton. On his garage wall hangs a mule collar from his late father’s farm. He joined the Air Force at 19 and retired from it in his early 40s. In his garage there are pictures of military aircraft everywhere. Throughout his life he always loved a good rollercoaster ride and he has pictures of the things everywhere. He is a black man, and many of newspaper clippings he has hung trace our country’s struggle toward racial equality: There is a story about Rosa Parks not far from a story about Barack Obama.

To remember a life’s everything is impossible. It is a game lost to time. Charles Rogers, though, has given himself a fighting chance. Just step into his garage and it all unfolds.