A Musical Monday #MondayBlogs #music

Two powerful voices.  Two powerhouses of music.  Two singers I’ve enjoyed (and still enjoy) for the greater part of my life.  I give you … Aretha Franklin and Tony Bennett.

Your regular programming may or may not return next week.  In the meantime, enjoy :)

And what’s an odd blog post without a gratuitous photo of a cat (thank you, Kevin Brennan, for setting that straight for me).

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This is a photo of Junior, our gray DSH, texted to me after his dental surgery last Monday.  The boy is still recovering.  Two teeth were extracted and everything was well until Saturday when an infection started to set in.  Now we have 10 days of antibiotics to go through with ole iron-jaw Junior.  Fun times.

To Be Continued …

Hello, dear Reader, and you may wonder what the heck the title of my post can possibly mean.  Well, I have a confession explanation.  I don’t have a post to post today.  I’ve spent the weekend working on a course that I’m taking with my friend and fellow blogger, Luanne.  It’s an online creative nonfiction course, only 4 weeks long but chocked full of readings.  It’s focused on the “flash essay,” a nonfiction work of 500-750 words.  Yes, I know.  A few months ago it was poetry and now I’m trying another genre.  Am I procrastinating?  Damn right I am but at least I’m learning something in the process.

I’m also thinking about changing my blogging schedule to Wednesdays or maybe Fridays.  I have less time during the work week to spend on my blog and other social media.  So stay tuned if you will and I’ll sort things out eventually.

In the meantime, here’s a gratuitous cat photo, that of Wendy, our rescue from … well, Wendy’s.  This is her favorite spot on our back porch.  We recently purchased new patio furniture but knew we would have to keep this old chair for Wendy.

Wendy stretching her legs.

Wendy stretching her legs.

See y’all next week :)

Living in the Moment: A Mini-Grand Canyon #MondayBlogs #nature

Good morning, Dear Reader.  Well, it’s  morning here and it’s probably morning somewhere else, so “Good morning” even if it’s afternoon or evening or the witching hour where you are now reading this.  I hate to split hairs, especially my own.

Several weeks ago my husband and I made a pilgrimage to Montgomery, Alabama, my husband’s “tierra” as he occasionally called it.  The city where his mom went to high school.  Where his grandmother might have known Zelda Fitzgerald, known well enough to nod “Good morning” if they happened to pass on the street.  But they came from different social classes and, besides, his grandmother did not “approve” of Zelda so they would not have been friends.  I digress.

On the way home from our mini-excursion, we stopped by a mini-Grand Canyon near Lumpkin, Georgia, about two hours drive from our home.  We’ve lived here in this region of the South for 25 years and yet we had never visited this child-size gorge.  We’d heard about it, had friends who drove up here to take day hikes through the gorge, but we remained fairly oblivious of this little nugget of nature so close to us.

It’s called Providence Canyon and without further adieu, here are some photos for your viewing pleasure.

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Yes, that’s the back of my husband. That’s probably about as much of him as you all will ever see. He’s not shy. He’s just anti-social media.

 

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The Visitor’s Center was closed so we just followed signs down to the floor of the canyon. I wasn’t really dressed for a hike. At least my shoes weren’t hiking boots and we had only one bottle of water between us. And it was hot!

 

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We were perplexed by all the trees and foliage that obscured the bluffs. Frankly, we started to wonder why our friends had made such a fuss over Providence Canyon.

 

It wasn't until we were leaving the park and saw some picnic tables down a wide expanse of lawn.  At the far side of the lawn, we were greeted with these views.

It wasn’t until we were leaving the park and saw some picnic tables down a wide expanse of lawn. At the far side of the lawn, we were greeted with these views.

 

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Granted, Providence is not as impressive as the Grand Canyon, but my husband saw stargazing opportunities here.

Naturally the best spot for stargazing would have been further out on the bluff, past the fence and danger sign. No way will I let him do that.

 

The Grass Sweeper God by Doug Howery Virtual Book Tour

The Grass Sweeper Virtual Book Tour Banner

Interview with the Author, Doug Howery
(Courtesy of Susan Barton, My Book Tour/eBook Review Gal)

Your mother committed suicide in 1982. How did this affect the story? How did this affect you?

My mother’s suicide is the catalyst for the plot of the story.  In 1982 my mother killed herself after learning that my brother & I were gay.  She did this final act on a Friday after learning that we were gay on a Wednesday.  She left a suicidal note in which she referred to my brother and I as “Gutter rats that could rot in hell.”  This act developed into the obligatory scene and plot for the story line.  I followed the mother’s character through the narrator’s voice, through the character’s pov, through her child’s pov and then through the child’s pov after growing into a young adult.  I showed the mother’s tragic life because of her choices in life whereas the child, then adult, had no choice in  the mother’s final act, had no choice in his sexual identity.  But the mother had choices and she chose to betray her two sons in the end.  The child had tried to protect his mother from herself his entire life and her final act was a form of the cruelest form of betrayal. Two major plots parallel and intertwine through the story: Social change on a national level vs. two rural boys who suffer the cruelty of the time due to their sexual identity. Can two rural characters who brought about national social change (Stonewall Gay Riots of 1969) save their sons’, their kin from the same place and people that had outcast them?

Your first book The Grass Sweeper God was inspired by your life & the real-life Stonewall Gay Riots of 1969. What attracted you to it as a story?

The story is about social change. That’s a big theme to take on. I spent years just trying to figure out the plot; how to intertwine a historical event such as the Stonewall riots around two rural boys who grow larger-than-life to take on societal prejudice, hatred, & bigotry. No story had been told about how rural gay life fit into the scheme of life & gay history…what it meant to grow up in a harsh environment both physically and emotionally…

Growing up gay in the coalfields of Southwest, VA, during the ‘60s & ‘70s, I felt unattached. When I say “unattached,” I mean that I didn’t feel like I was a part of the real life going on around me. It was like being a voyeur into others’ life. This is fodder for the gristmill for a writer. I was very introspective. Young people dated, fell in love, etc. & I knew I could not love because the love I felt was wrong. That is how I was made to feel by society & family at that time period. I perceived myself as “normal” but I knew I couldn’t walk the school halls holding a young boy’s hand. Society sends young people mixed messages to this day. Much has changed, but as the old adage goes; “The more things change the more they stay the same.” The Stonewall Riots created a sea change for that time period just as gay marriage is changing societal views.

A main character in your book, Smiley Hanlon is transgendered. While growing up you had a classmate that wore a woman’s blouse to school & was beat & bullied. How did this affect you? How did this inspire you to write this character’s story?

I was never mean to this person. But my silence made me complicit. I learned that lesson later in life & felt that I was a coward for not taking up for him. That really bothered me on into adulthood. I soon realized that there is power in words. Words are indeed mightier than the sword. So, I penned the story around those that are different, those that have no voice, those that are bullied and made to feel less than, to feel as though they have no identity; that their lives are not valid. I set out to write a story to bring peoples’ lives out of the margins & into the mainstream, out of the dark and into the light.

The descriptions of landscape in the book are striking as a dark and evocative poetry in prose form. How important was the initial setting of Solitude, VA to your book? Did you approach it as a character in itself?

Landscape, descriptions of animals, descriptions of a rural setting that most do not get to experience these days is an effective way to evoke psychology without having to get in the character’s head. For instance, when I describe the moon as, “The fragile pearl moon,” when I describe the moon as, “The dead herring moon,” I’m in that particular character’s head & the reader senses something provocative is about to happen. Makes for great suspense. Describing how a poor farmer toils to make his drinking water safe for his family puts the rural setting into perspective by showing the reader what it means to be poor, to work the land just to survive. And this is the same poor farmer who shows a gay boy how a real father can love his son. This is a type of “duplicity.” Just because one is poor doesn’t mean that one can’t be a responsible, loving and caring parent.

An Amazon author reviewer is quoted as comparing your prose to Steinbeck & describing the transgender character, Smiley: “Yet, this ‘excrement’ feels that there must be better in this world, it is something he feels against all the world is saying, something that comes from the soul, so, ‘For some reason, he imagined an angel’s harp singing in his ear, then remembered a drum roll like the devil talking.’ This duplicity, this contrast between what Smiley’s reality is and what it could be, runs through the whole book. The Grass Sweeper God reminds me of the best passages from Steinbeck, where the stark reality (here also taken up by the rural environment of the first chapters, the attention to animals, what they look, sound and smell like) in a place aptly called ‘Solitude’ (I think the reference to Soledad is clear), and the theme of ‘being different’ is brought into the contemporary world with the same mix of harsh realism on one side and touches of symbolism on the other…”  What does it mean to you to be compared to a Pulitzer Prize author like Steinbeck?

Of course it is flattering to say the least. But more importantly, for a reader to understand the character’s motives and day-to-day reality gives me a sense of accomplishment. As an author, there is no better feeling than to accomplish character’ empathy and, or even sympathy. It is difficult for most of us to walk a mile in others’ shoes. To accomplish this feat through prose is great!

 The Grass Sweeper God by Doug Howery
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Date: October 23, 2014
ISBN-10: 1499783493
ASIN: B00JMVE036
SYNOPSIS:
Being different in America has never been easy; being born different and in the wrong body in Solitude, Virginia in the 1950’s, is brutal. Smiley Hanlon lives day to day trapped in a Coal Miners town, buffeted by the Appalachian’s and generations of hate and mistrust. Any hint of being different, or being a ‘Freak’ is enough to ostracize you, pigeon hole you and make you a target for bullying – or worse. Backed by his best friend and protector, Lee Moore, Smiley made it through the days…until the night everything shattered. Chosen as the lead in a new town production called Dorothy of Oz Coal Camp, it seemed to be the beginning to acceptance and maybe even happiness, but the world is cruel and mankind even crueler. The triumph of the play decayed into a Coal Miners version of “Carrie” culminating in a tragic and horrific moment that would change both Smiley and Lee, forever.
Doug  Howery Author PhotoABOUT THE AUTHOR:
DOUG HOWERY has been writing both fiction and essays since 1990. His essays and familial stories have appeared in The Blue Ridge Lambda Press.In many of his stories, as in “The Grass Sweeper God,” Mr. Howery’s true lode, his font of
inspiration is in the passion and suffering he has experienced.Suspense author, Maggie Grace, with the North Carolina Writers’ Network writes about her cohort Mr. Howery:
“What I like is the riskiness, the cutting edge of the narrative voice we hear. The moments when he lapses into descriptions of the moon, of the horse, etc. are true poetry that offers some relief from the coarseness of the story, and he places them well. He has an ear for the rhythm of the story, a natural sense of when to end–hangs fire with a new way of looking at someone or something, turning the entire chapter on its ear. I like the way he makes it impossible for the reader to stop reading at the end of the chapter.” Mr. Howery lives in Virginia with his partner of 31 years where he is at work on his next novel.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon

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CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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Website

MEDIA KIT PREPARED BY:

Susan Barton, My Book Tour/eBook Review Gal

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Asking for Forgiveness: A Memoir #memoir #MondayBlogs

Yesterday would have been my father’s 96th birthday.

I think he's rather handsome.

I think he’s rather handsome.

He died in his sleep in November 1992.  The kind of death anyone would want.  At least at the end, someone (God?) cut him some slack.  You see, he hadn’t had an easy life.  Born in poverty.  Never finished high school.  Classified 4-F.  And he couldn’t hold a job.  That, in a weird sort of way, was my good fortune, or so one of my sisters told me once a long time ago.

You see, I’m the youngest of four.  My sisters are 13 and 11 years older than me, my brother 3 years older.  The middle sister remembers our father as working during most of her childhood, not there to take her to matinees like he did for me.  Not there to draw pictures for her on demand like he did for me.  But she forgot that those were the earliest years of my childhood.  By the time I was around 10, he was starting to spend less time at home and more time at Utica State Hospital, formerly known as the New York State Lunatic Asylum.

Not a fun place to visit your father.

Not a fun place to visit your father.

I do agree with my sister that I had some fun times with my dad.  He and I both took perverse pleasure in Grade-B horror films.  You know, the ones produced by Hammer Film and that usually only showed during theater matinees or at 2 pm on the TV.  And, yes, I have a memory of finding him on our neighbor’s porch (because we didn’t have a porch), sitting out the hot summer afternoon, sweat glistening on his dark hairy arms.  But when I handed him a piece of paper and pencil and demanded, “Draw me a man,” he compiled.  Even gave the man a corncob pipe to smoke.

I think my parents were happy once.  Before it all got too much.

Happy Days

Happy Days

 

My mother told me that Dad had had his first nervous breakdown when he was only 17 and she didn’t know about it until later.  But, she went on, she would have married him anyway.  He was 23 when they married.  She was 19.  Perhaps as far as anyone knew, he was okay.  They had met at a dance.  My mother was one of seven sisters and five brothers growing up on a farm run by a father who was “not progressive.” (My mom’s words, not mine.)  She might have felt a desperate need to leave.  These are all fragments of memory.  And they are all I have.

My father loved to play the piano, although I don’t remember him having much of a repertoire.  I gave my mother a recital once.  She was in the kitchen washing dishes while I banged away happily. I can imagine her standing at the kitchen sink, praying for mercy.  I don’t remember when exactly, but it seemed that soon after, the piano disappeared.

I loved banging on this piano.

I loved banging on this piano.

By the time I was a teenager, my dad was sometimes living at home, sometimes not.  By then I had witnessed two of his nervous breakdowns.  Once when I was about 9 or 10 and I heard, rather than saw, him fall apart over the Vietnam War and the loss of “our boys” and heard, rather than saw, my mother rubbing circles on his back, trying to soothe him.  The second time when I was about 14 and he had just come home from the Village Tavern.  He collapsed on the cot in the dining room, crying and banging on the wall, his back to me.  I couldn’t make out what he was crying about.  Something about not being able to take it, I think.  I called my sister and stayed until she showed up.  I was terrified the whole time.  I was never afraid that he would hurt me.  He had never laid a hand on me, and somehow I knew he never would.  I was afraid of his pain, the utter anguish that poured through his tears.

I can’t tell you what was wrong with him.  No one seems to really know.  My mom and my middle sister have said that he was diagnosed as schizophrenic.  But he didn’t hurt anyone.  He wasn’t suicidal as far as I could tell.  He just cried a lot and blamed himself for things that he couldn’t control.  Like the Vietnam War.  He had it in his head that the war started when he quit the creamery and so there was a connection.  He felt responsible.  I once accused him of thinking he must be God.  When he laughed, slightly chagrined, I thought maybe he was really okay.

He had a fixation on Oral Roberts, a man I came to loathe for the spell he cast over my dad.  He sent money to Oral Roberts and in return got a small plastic plaque that read “Something good is going to happen to you.”  Nothing good happened to or for my dad.  And he blamed himself because, you know, if Oral Roberts said “something good was going to happen to you” and nothing did, you had only yourself to blame.

We went on that way until I was 18 and my mother no longer received Social Security checks for me.  And then she wanted to remarry.  She felt she could finally go ahead and start living her own life.  Whatever had been between her and my dad was no longer there.  It just wasn’t sustainable through all the pain and struggle.  By this time, my dad was well enough to live “independently,” but not at home.  He lived in a “halfway house,” with other men who had had it rough, so to speak. I don’t think, I don’t remember if I ever visited him there.

So my mom and dad divorced, my mom remarried, and my dad start visiting my middle sister when he could.  And then I moved to California.  He became very ill at one point.  Blood clot in his abdomen and we all thought that was it for him.  And no one thought that was fair.  My mother said, “He doesn’t deserve that.”  He had never hurt anybody so why should he suffer?

But he recovered and my sister was able to move him to a facility where he could get round-the-clock care.  It was essentially a hospital.  It smelled like a hospital.  He had a hospital room to live in.  Nurses abounded.  But it was also a five-minute drive from where my sister worked.  On one visit home, I was treated to this.

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I think the piano was the one thing, the one constant in my father’s life that gave him pleasure.  You couldn’t count on people, especially your youngest daughter who avoided you whenever possible and rarely brought friends home when you were there.  Then again, that middle daughter more than compensated.

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On a visit from California. I don’t think I was ready to see him like this.

I am grateful that for the most part he seemed happy during his last few years.  He was whittled down by God knows what kind of medications he was on and off, by the shock treatments he received in Utica.  He had Parkinson’s as if having mental health problems wasn’t enough.  Yet, his needs and desires were few.  Give him a piano and he’d bang away, play the same song over and over, but be happy.  Smile at him and he’d smile back.  Send him cards with kittens on them and he’d carried them around in the little bag attached to his wheelchair.

He didn’t ask for much, and I gave him very little in return. I spent most of my youth and early adulthood fearing that I would turn out like him.  I cry easily.  Especially when I was a teenager, I did a fair amount of acting out.  If my family had known half of what I did, they might have sent me to Utica too.  It’s taken me a long time to understand that my father’s mental illness was not genetic, that it was more environmental than anything else. Maybe.

My father wasn’t always sick.  I just have few memories of when he wasn’t.

This post is my way (pitiful though it is) of asking my dad for forgiveness.  I wasn’t a good daughter.  I let my sister and my mother do all the heavy lifting.  I want to go back to that night, so many years ago, when I was staying up late because I wanted to watch some stupid horror movie.  I heard Dad come down the stairs and I sighed.  I didn’t want him there, with me.  I wanted to be alone.  But he came into the living room, “What ya watching,” and sat down.  As the movie grew in suspense and we both jumped when a door was suddenly pulled open, we laughed and looked at each other.  I think I said something like, “I’m glad you’re here.”  Code for “this movie is too scary to watch alone.”  He laughed again and we went back to watching the movie.

 

 

 

Lifted Out of Despair #MondayBlogs #LoveWins

Last week I was in a very dark place.  Then in these last two days  (6/25/2015 and 6/26/2015, to be specific), the US Supreme Court decided in favor of marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act.  I couldn’t stop my head from spinning or my feet from dancing.  Add to that, Alabama and other states took down the Confederate flag (see http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/confederate-flag-us/story?id=31997573).  [Sadly, as of this writing, South Carolina is still dragging its heels.]

And so I feel I can really truly enjoy the remainder of this month, as today is my birthday and I want to celebrate.

Me at one year old. Early signs of exhibitionism are evident.

I’m still keeping a low social media profile so I can focus more on my writing outside my blog as well as continue to play catch-up with other things.

Have a wonderful day, dear Reader.  Have a wonderful week!  Before  you go, enjoy a semi-gratuitous cat video.

 

 

Death, Despair, and Disgust

As you might guess from the title, dear Reader, this isn’t going to be a “happy” post.  I’ve thought long and hard about whether to write a post at all.  I thought about updating my last Monday post, the one on Montgomery, expressing the horror I now feel at the juxtaposition of the United Daughters of the Confederacy memorial of Jefferson Davis’s inauguration across the street from the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.  In my post, I had suggested that it was well and good Alabama acknowledge its history as a proponent of slavery, rather than pretend it never happened.

Then there was the massacre last week at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  Nine dead.  And why, dear Reader, why?  Simply because they were black.  That’s all.  A racist needs no other reason to kill, to terrorize.

And now when I think of that UDC marker across from the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, and I think of the churchgoers who have to pass by that marker, I get sick to my stomach.  How naive I feel, how stupid.

I still haven’t organized my emotions well enough to carry on like, well, like … whatever.  Friday I had several mini-meltdowns until finally, safe and alone at home, I wailed.  I felt such despair.  I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all the massacres that have occurred on American soil by American citizens in my lifetime.

And later I felt disgust as I heard presidential candidates dance around the fact that the massacre was an act of domestic terrorism.  Just because it was nine people and not 168 makes it no less an act of terrorism.  Just because it was a church and not a federal building makes it no less an act of terrorism.  And just because it was a young white man doesn’t mean we assume he was mentally ill, that if only we could keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill …

What happened that night at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church was a racially motivated act of terrorism, nothing less.  And there’s nothing more I can say.

I have closed comments on this post.  I don’t want you, dear Reader, to feel you have to respond.  I know many of you, like myself, are inclined to leave a comment with most if not all the posts we read.  I want to lift that burden from you in this particular instance.

I also feel rather humorless right now.  I don’t want to put on a happy face for its own sake.  So I’m going to slip under the radar for a while, at least until the crying stops.

 

Cover Reveal: Singularity by Helena Hann-Basquiat and friends!

Singularity 6 x 9 coverThe time has come.

The time is now.

Singularity is the new novel from Helena Hann-Basquiat, with Sara Litchfield, Sandy Ramsey, Lizzi Rogers and Hannah Sears.

Singularity is the sequel to last year’s JESSICA — a metafictional look into Jessica’s possible pasts.

Singularity is coming August 1, 2015

Singularity is its own novel, and can be enjoyed all on its own, but if you haven’t read JESSICA, GO HERE to read the first chapter or GO HERE to purchase a copy in paperback or e-book.

 

 

Sweet Home Alabama #MondayBlogs

Well, Alabama ain’t my home and Lynyrd Skynyrd ain’t my favorite band (except for Free Bird and that in large part because it was the favorite song of a cousin I looked up to).  But Alabama is my husband’s mother’s home state.  The city of Montgomery in particular.  A place he last visited more than 50 years ago when he went as a little boy with his mother and sister to visit his Mamaw (look it up).  Recently we took a trip to Montgomery to see if it had changed since my husband’s last and only visit.

You laugh.

But this is the Real South I’m talking about.  Sometimes some things don’t change.

We were only in Montgomery for one full day, which we spent driving and walking around, seeing what might spur my husband’s imagination memory.

For example, Chris’s World Famous Hot Dogs.

My husband had his first chili dog there when he still wearing knickers.  Like I said, about 50+ years ago.  And the place is still there.  They still serve chili dogs although my husband complained it wasn’t quite the same as he remembered.

The Capitol building was a high point as was the walk up to it, on Dexter Avenue. The flowers in this photo were not in bloom during our visit, but it was still a sunny day with blue skies and fluffy clouds.

"Alabama Capitol Building" by Carol M. Highsmith - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID highsm.07064.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.العربية | čeština | Deutsch | English | español | فارسی | suomi | français | magyar | italiano | македонски | മലയാളം | Nederlands | polski | português | русский | slovenčina | slovenščina | Türkçe | українська | 中文 | 中文(简体)‎ | 中文(繁體)‎ | +/−. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Alabama Capitol Building” by Carol M. HighsmithThis image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID highsm.07064. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

My husband had a vivid memory of seeing a gold star embedded in one of the steps to the Capitol.  Something to do with Jefferson Davis, he recalled but being just a child, he was fascinated by the star, not the history.  Where exactly on the Capitol steps would it be, he didn’t know.

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Inscription: “Placed by Sophie Bibb Chapter Daughters of the Confederacy on the spot where Jefferson Davis stood when inaugurated President of the C.S.A. Feb. 18, 1861.”

Finding the star wasn’t difficult at all once I looked it up on my iPad.  And the view from that spot was rather pleasant, although my photography skills are rather lacking.

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The view from the Capitol building, down Dexter Avenue. Montgomery, Alabama. May 2015.

Only two blocks before the Capitol building was a modest church. It’s stature smaller than many of the other many churches in Montgomery (and I do mean to use the word ‘many’ twice).  We might have just walked by Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, the church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was pastor for several years.  Services are still held at the church and a small museum is on the bottom floor.  I’m not a church-going believer, but this is one church in which I would be happy to seek shelter.

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Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, founded in 1877, and first known as the Second Colored Baptist Church. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., served as pastor from 1954-1960.

But in an interesting juxtaposition, on the corner opposite the church, a tombstone-look marker reminded us of Montgomery’s long journey forward.

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Yes, in 1942, some people still pined for the good ole days of the nascent Confederacy, when they could sip mint juleps in the shade of their verandas while their slaves toiled to their deaths under the searing Southern sun.  If they couldn’t go back in time, they would surely make sure that people knew of their desire.

The juxtaposition didn’t end there.  Directly across Dexter Avenue was another marker, a newer one that filled me with hope.

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And the strangely moving sight of shoe prints, all kinds, all sizes, stretching from the Civil Rights marker above, across Dexter Avenue, to the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

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One image I didn’t capture but still sticks in my mind as clear as the moment I saw it:  In the ladies’ room at the Planetarium (yes, Montgomery has a planetarium and a very nice one, too), the soap dispenser had an interesting insignia.  The insignia described Alabama as both “The Cradle of the Confederacy” and “The Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.”  It looked something like this, but on a soap dispenser.

This seal represents the South to me, not just Alabama.  On the one hand, history and one’s part in it should not be forgotten.  “Cradle of the Confederacy.”  The marker, commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, directly across from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.  These are reminders of Alabama’s history and the role it played in the Confederacy and the Civil War.

Wrongs must be righted. “Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.” Shoe prints stretching across Dexter Avenue, representing the March from Selma to Montgomery.  The marker commemorating that march.  These demonstrate that Alabama is moving forward in history, not forgetting its history but (hopefully) refusing to repeat it.

Or am I giving Alabama too much credit?  Perhaps Alabama still pines for those days long gone, those days before we knew what what we were capable of doing to each other.  Perhaps some think there’s still a chance the Confederacy can be reborn and, for them, “Cradle of the Confederacy” is a source of pride.

What do you think, Dear Reader?  Are these odd juxtapositions of historical importance?  Or is there some poetry here, like a song suggesting, “it’s complicated.”

 

Top Ten Thing Not to do at a Wedding

1WriteWay:

Go to weddings much, Dear Reader? Well, tis the season and as those invitations start pouring in, consider these 10 warning tips from John Howell.

Originally posted on Fiction Favorites:

Since June is wedding month, I can’t let it pass without making some comments on what we should all avoid if we are in a wedding, invited to a wedding or are getting married. I hope you enjoy it.

a wedding images

Top Ten Things Not to do at a Wedding (no matter who you are)

10 If you are a wedding guest, do not be tempted to pick up and shake a few of the wedding presents to see if there are sets of china or appliances inside. If you do, at best those observing you will know you bought a cheap gift or none at all. At worst, you will be asked to step away from the gifts by a large man with the word SECURITY above his left pocket. He also happens to be the brother of one of the celebrants, and you are now busted since he assumes you…

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