A Small Flood

 

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I have no idea who this is…

“Someone dies and a little trickle of indestructible keepsakes appears, to swell the flood. This steady influx is not counterbalanced by any comparable outgo.” – E.B. White

I am still fighting this flood. The trickle began when my mother-in-law died and I became keeper of the family photos and what little history there was. Before I could make much of a dent in sorting and such, my mother died. That is when the keepsakes really began to swell the flood. If I had not been there to rescue some, my brothers may have put them all downstream. Now I am still dog-paddling through photos, documents, letters, and the occasional surprise. There has been a lot of outgo, though. Some has been passed on to family members and some has hit the trashcan. Yet still I have items in three different closets that often just overwhelms me.

I thought I’d have it all sorted before this summer ended. It is a daunting task at times. When I come across the fourth copy of a genealogy chart, I have to be sure it is actually a replica and not a different one before it gets tossed. When there are numerous copies of the same photo, I have to decide who else might want a copy and contact them before I toss it. It seems never ending. And for what?

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My great-uncle Sim. Maybe related to Jed Clampett?

I hope to pass it all down to my next of kin one day. I want them to get it in an orderly arrangement so they don’t have to think about it and won’t have to make all these decisions. I want it to just flow right down to be perused at their leisure. To give them a sense of family history. A sense of belonging. For that’s what it’s done for me, though it hasn’t been easy. Fresh grief doesn’t make it any easier, either.

 

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Bell Camp: Day One

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Day one consisted of cemetery/house hopping.

Our first stop was the Oconee Hill Cemetery. It’s a lovely, historic cemetery and the setting for a book called The Song of Daniel by Philip Lee Williams. It is a huge place and I had no clue how to find my relatives except for a photo I had of some steps with my great-grandparents’ names on them. I had the kids and Chuck on the lookout for Baileys and not only did they find some, but also some Eberharts, Seagraves, Bells plus a few other names that the kids thought were funny. It was the photo that saved the day – we found the steps and then nearby the graves we were searching for. I was so excited!

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I had not been to the cemetery since 2000 for Aunt Marie’s funeral. Our little Juliette Marie is named after her as am I and my cousin Susan and my daughter, Leah. Juliette is also named for her mom, Claire Marie, her Noni and two great-grandmothers on her Mom’s side. We are all MARIE STRONG!!

 

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I found the resting places of my grandmother and great-grandparents, also. We found a random Sorrells headstone, which is how my husband and I are connected, but that’s another story for another day.

 

The next stop was the Friendship Baptist Cemetery in Danielsville. This is where Dad’s parents, grandparents, and other relatives are buried. I remember going here a few times as a kid when Mom and Dad would bring flowers and clean up the area a little bit. I also found the graves of Uncle (Give me some sugar) Eugued and Aunt Mabel Nash. Huff is a another family name and there were Huffs buried there, including my great-grandmother Annie Tallulah Huff Graham.

 

There’s a great story about one relative named Peter Hoff/Huff. Way back in the day, Peter Huff was a bootlegger who went by the name of Pint Peter since he supplied the pints for discreet drinkers in the area. When the government came in to put in a post office, they asked the people what to name the area. They said Pint Peter, but a misunderstanding resulted in it becoming Point Peter. Using gps, we were able to find the location, but the area is now referred to as the Glade. However, we did find a road sign, which led down a dirt road to a quarry.

 

We headed back to Athens for lunch at The Varsity.

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After lunch we located three old family houses in Athens. The first was on Sylvia Circle where we lived when I was about two. Again, it was a photo that led us to the correct house. The next was Grandma’s place on Vine Circle. It looked very much like I remembered it.  The last was a house where my great-grandmother Lucy lived in the 1940s. I found the address on a letter that was in a box of letters Mom had saved. I also have a picture of Lucy sitting on the steps of that very house which was built in the 1920s. I wanted so badly to go up and knock on the door, but I settled for taking a picture from the car window.

 

That night we once again walked to Mellow Mushroom for supper. Hey, if it ain’t broke…

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Artist at work in Mellow Mushroom

Day one of Bell camp was full of family history and a walk down memory lane for me.

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Scooter and playground break

 

 

 

Rome and the USA

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Caravaggio 1600 “Saint Augustine”

 

I am so ignorant of history, but in reading The City of God by St. Augustine, the comparison of the Untied States to Rome sometimes just jumps out at me. For instance:

“At that time, it was their (Rome) greatest ambition to die bravely or live free; but when liberty was obtained, so great a desire of glory took possession of them, that liberty alone was not enough unless domination also should be sought”

and this:

“I do not think that is was by arms that our ancestors made the republic (Rome) great from being small…But it was other things than those that made them great, and we have none of them: industry at home, just government without, a mind free in deliberation, addicted neither to crime nor lust. Instead of these, we have luxury and avarice, …; we laud riches, we follow laziness; there is no difference made between the good and the bad. And no wonder, when every individual consults only for his own good, when you are the slaves of pleasure at home, and in public affairs, of money and favor, no wonder that an onslaught is made upon the unprotected republic.” Cato, as quoted by St. Augustine

more from Cato:

“… the only time at which there existed a just and modern administration was after the banishment of the kings…afterwards the fathers oppressed the people as slaves, flogged them as the kings had done, drove them from their land…”

Kinda puts a different spin on “Make America Great Again” doesn’t it?

Dust Bowl Thoughts

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Oklahoma, April 1936. Iconic photo taken by Arthur Rothstein.

 

I recently finished Woody Guthrie: A Life by Joe Klein. It sparked my interest in that time period, especially since that is when my grandfather deserted his family on the side of the road in Florida.

The prompt for PAD Day 10 was to write a deal poem. Mine is based on my recent readings.

The Hand Was Dealt

Displaced, depressed
Wandering the windswept plain
On dust bowl shattered dreams

Homeless, hungry
Pushed on by black blizzards
Forlorn figures on the road

Farms gone, families scattered
Despondent souls eroding
Through dust bowl shattered dreams

 

 

Adventures in Subbing #6

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I was subbing in a history class last year during PAD. On  Two-for Tuesday, we could write either a sonnet or an “anti-form” poem (for those who don’t like formulaic poetry). So, I looked around the classroom that day for inspiration. Here’s my sonnet:

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Join or die, a choice beyond compare

The mind and heart do battle all the day

It’s felt in lives of young ones everywhere

How do you choose? How do you find your way?

 

Go confidently; follow after dreams

In the direction of the sun or moon

Your dreams may float or shine like gold sunbeams

Or bounce along like notes on sweetest tune

 

With perseverance run the race ahead

Respect, integrity will take you far

Diversity can be the vital thread

In everything you do be who you are

 

They say the price of victory is high

But so are the rewards; reach for the sky

 

Borrowed portions:

Join or Die – Benjamin Franklin

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams – Henry David Thoreau

Perseverance, Respect, Integrity and Diversity in everything that we(you) do = PRIDE – school mission statement

They say the price of victory is high. But, so are the rewards – Paul (Bear) Bryant

 

(edited/reposted)

Unseen

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I have always admitted that I just can’t grasp the simple concept of beautiful music coming out of a vinyl record, much less a cassette tape or a cd or via the internet. It boggles my mind how the music can be played over and over. It is fascinating to think of all the sounds passing across the air 24/7. Werner and Marie-Laure, in All the Light We Cannot See, thought along the same lines.

Werner like to crouch in his dormer and imagine radio waves like mile-long harp strings, bending and vibrating over Zollverein, flying through forests, through cities, through walls.

Marie-Laure imagines their electromagnetic waves traveling into and out of Michel’s machine, bending around them, just as Etienne used to describe, except now a thousand times more crisscross the air than when he lived – maybe a million times more. Torrents of text conversations, tides of cell conversations, of television programs, of email, vast networks of fiber and wire interlaced above and beneath the city, passing through buildings, arcing between transmitters in Metro tunnels, between antennas atop building, from lampposts with cellular transmitters in them, commercials for Carrefour and Evian and prebaked toaster pastries flashing into space and back to earth again, I’m going to be late and Maybe we should get reservations? and Pick up avocados and What did he say? and ten thousand I miss yous, fifty thousands I love yous, hate mail and appointment reminders…

Recently I was telling my husband that I think sometimes about how we are walking around every day – in and out of all kinds of wifi waves and radio and TV and I don’t understand it at all. Right now I might be walking through a jazz song or an I Love Lucy rerun or somebody’s email. Ever think about that?

When I was pregnant with my last child, I had to lay in bed on occasion to rest on my left side. I could swear I’d hear jumbled voices – like the muffled voices of newscasters. Yet, when I sat up they disappeared. I wondered if I was picking up sound waves via my silver fillings. I’m sure it was just the air swishing through the vents, but it drove me mad. Yet, it also sparked my imagination. Years later, I developed an interest in stories involving time/space travel. Some of my favorites are Michael Crichton’s Timeline and Madeleine L’Engel’s A Wrinkle in Time and the movie Frequency. This fascination spills over to old buildings. I love to imagine what went on in buildings that have been around a long time. When my son was renovating the kitchen of a 1940’s home, he knocked out a wall and discovered some items that had been hiding inside. Among his findings were silver serving spoons and some toy cars circa the late 50s/early 60s. I imagine some little kids dropping them inside the wall when it was opened for some sort of repair.

Though Werner and Marie-Laure are fictional characters, I know that at least the author, Anthony Doerr, thought about things the way I do sometimes. That’s comforting to know; I’m not alone in the allure of invisible sounds or in the enchantment of historical buildings.

Thoughts Stirred by The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. (Juliet to Dawsey)

This book was the second one I’ve read recently that was set during and just after World War II. So, now my goal is to read two others I have at home already that are set in the same era.

Last month I read All the Light We Cannot See. So, when I was reading along in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and  Annie Barrows (TGL&PPS), it was happily surprising to find Saint Malo mentioned. This was a large part of ATLWCS. The next book, which I’ll begin tonight or tomorrow is Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. This novel begins in Paris in 1940.

Even though these are fiction, they resonate with history and have drawn me in and left me feeling I have so much more to learn about events surrounding the second world war. Truly, I have even more to learn about all of history. The more I read the less educated I feel.  But, hopefully, the more educated I’m becoming.