Tag Archives: history

The Writing Is on the Wall

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Our history is written on the walls of our buildings – not prophecy or graffiti, just the remnants of signs that came before.Most of us don’t know where our eggs or poultry come from. Most of us no longer need to purchase feed or stable our horses in town. Prohibition’s repeal took place many years ago, but these reminders of our past still exist, but only when we notice.

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A Few More Non Resolutions – making something with your hands, finding shards of your past

baskets-blur2webThe Gullah women of South Carolina have perfected the art of sweetgrass basket-making, a traditional craft first developed in Africa. The tradition thrives today in the hands of women who weave these baskets using the same methods and materials. Along a highway appropriately named Sweetgrass Highway, their baskets are for sale along with their stories. I bought a middle – sized one with an edge called elephant ears or roller coaster. It has bands of pine needles to add colors, is signed by the artist and smells wonderful.These baskets on display in the afternoon sun made me think about how much I miss it when I’m not making things and how wonderful it would be to pass on this kind of tradition. Note to self -get busy!

shardjarblur2-webA jar of found pieces in the window caught my eye. I loved that the shop owners cared enough about the remains under their corner of Charleston to display them. It’s these fragments of those who passed before us, and even from our earlier life that makes us who we are. As a magpie, I’m always collecting little pieces that catch my eye. Shells, rocks,charms, wrappers, letters, metal, all find their way into my hands and collections. I think this year is a good time to gather them together and display them to honor those fragments of memory. Using an old glass jar would be a great beginning and I certainly have many of those. I know there are shard lamps, plaques, and vases, but I think they’d be happier without glue or cement holding them static.Any suggestions?

 


Unsuspected Stories

Silver metal oxidizing and colorful is a texture that draws me near. Collecting textures from abandoned or decaying buildings, a hobby  like stamps or birdwatching ,enables me to recycle and create. Adding memory by introducing items owned by past tenants introduces story and personality. Making the acquaintance of the buildings’ owners happens rarely although sometimes I’ve been lucky. Today’s image just allows you to imagine their lives and create a history for them.


The Thrill of the Unknown : Fort Pickens, Florida

A stairway. You can’t see what waits at the top .You know for sure what stands at the bottom.Taking that small first step may not require any major physical effort , but getting to the top and making the discovery  may change you in ways you never thought possible. Sometimes the smallest steps lead us in directions we never expected.That’s where the courage resides.


Finding Rodney, Mississippi and Its Ghosts

After viewing photos of the remains of Rodney, Mississippi on line , I had to go see for myself. Directions on several blogs made it sound so easy to find and just a couple of hours from Memphis. Of course,my friend and I decided a road trip was in order. After stopping at numerous gas stations, hanging out windows to accost passersby and driving down gravel roads,and a nick in the windshield later, we found it.It is near Alcorn State University.Of course we’re not sure we could ever locate it again. It may be like the town in Finian’s Rainbow that only appears every twenty years.

The town of Rodney formed back in 1814 when Mississippi was a territory. A river town, it just missed becoming the capital of the territory when the mighty Mississippi moved. In the 1850’s it was home to more than 1,000 residents, the chief port of two steamboats,several newspapers, two banks , and an opera house. By 1860, Rodney was home for 4,000 residents.Then the river changed course.It went from 300 yards away to three miles.I had no idea a river could just up and change position in a short time.

The sun was blazing and the streets deserted when we arrived. Collapsed buildings and those in slightly better shape lined the street. Our first stop , the brick Presbyterian church which dates to the early 1830’s, looked almost untouched. The cannonball imbedded in the facade above a window gave evidence of its age , but its stories were in the cemetery that lay at the top of the hill behind it. Damaged by time and vandals, the old metal fencing looked like rusted lace. The stones of prominent families sagged along with those whose names have faded.

Back down on the main street , the remains of the opera house and perhaps a town hall are mounds of debris. There is a general store , Alston Grocery, another building on the opposite corner which might have been a stable, and another church.There is a clapboard Baptist church.

As we wandered and shooting photos,  we met a man who used to come to Rodney with his dad back in the forties. He tried to remember and explain what it had been like at that time. Further on, there was a couple who had family members buried at the cemetery.Families from surrounding areas had buried their loved ones in Rodney because it was higher ground, literally. It seemed to be a day for reminiscences so we listened and felt more connected .

The photos presented are infrared with an intentional blur. . They seem to fit the mood of the day ,  a dreamy  otherworld feeling.You could almost hear the footsteps, carriage wheels , and voices as a thriving community busied itself in daily life.

There are a few residents and hunting camps nearby, so ghost town isn’t fitting in terms of population yet it perfectly captures the mood.


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